Disinfecting High-Touch Surfaces & the Mistake Most People Make

High-touch surfaces in homes and need to be cleaned more often than most, and sometimes they need to be disinfected. It’s never a bad idea to disinfect them, but it’s especially important when someone in the household is sick.

Hand disinfecting doorknob with cloth

By disinfecting these surfaces, you can halt the spread of germs and viruses. In this post, you’ll learn the simple steps to this task, and also learn the mistake that most people make!

Identifying High-Touch Surfaces

So what exactly is a high-touch surface? It’s those parts of the house that get touched by multiple people most every day.

Some common examples include doorknobs, light switches, faucets, countertops, and any shared keyboards or mobile devices.

How Often To Disinfect High-Touch Surfaces?

Some sources will tell you it should be done every single day. I think it depends more on how many people are in your home and whether anyone’s been ill.

Although it should be noted that most viruses have a period of about 24-48 hours where the person has no symptoms and doesn’t know they’re sick, but they’re already contagious.

It should at least be done every time you clean. Since it doesn’t take long, you may want to do them every day.


You’ll need the following:

  • Cleaning cloths
  • EPA-approved disinfectant spray or wipes (learn how to make your own disinfectant wipes)
  • Possibly Soap or detergent and water

Preparing the Surface for Disinfecting

Start by cleaning any visible dirt or debris from the surface using a cloth. This step makes the disinfecting more effective.

If necessary, use soap and water to clean the surface thoroughly before proceeding to the next step.

Disinfect the Surface

Note that these steps are the same whether you’re spraying on a disinfectant or using a disinfectant wipes.

  1. Apply an EPA-approved disinfecting solution to the surface according to the product’s instructions.
  2. Allow the solution to sit on the surface for the recommended amount of time. If you’re not sure, 10 minutes should be more than enough for any disinfectant.
  3. Use a clean cloth or paper towel to wipe the surface. This is how you actually remove the germs!
  4. If required, rinse the surface with water and dry thoroughly.

The Mistake Most People Make

It’s very common for people not to realize they need to wipe off the disinfectant to remove the germs. Just applying it should kill them, but wiping them away after it’s killed them is also important in the process.

Cleaning and Disinfecting Electronics

Electronics, such as smartphones, tablets, and keyboards, need special care during the sanitizing and disinfecting process. Follow these guidelines:

  1. Before starting, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions to ensure compatibility with the disinfectant. As a general rule, alcohol wipes are safe on devices.
  2. Power off the device and unplug it if applicable.
  3. Use a cloth or wipe moistened with an appropriate disinfectant to clean the surface of the device.
  4. Pay extra attention to the touchscreens, buttons, and crevices.
  5. Allow the device to air dry completely.
  6. Wipe it with a dry cloth to remove any dead germs.
  7. Turn it back on.

Regular Cleaning and Maintenance

Disinfecting these surfaces should be part of your regular cleaning routine.

  • Establish a cleaning schedule for high-touch surfaces. Add it to any cleaning checklists you use.
  • Encourage proper handwashing in your household.
  • Regularly replace cleaning supplies and disinfectants as needed.

FAQ: Disinfecting High-Touch Surfaces in Homes

1. Why is it important to disinfect high-touch surfaces?

Disinfecting high-touch surfaces is crucial for preventing the spread of germs, bacteria, and viruses, including the common cold, flu, RSV and COVID-19. Regular disinfection helps to reduce the risk of illness transmission.

2. What is the best way to disinfect high-touch surfaces?

Start by cleaning the surface with soap and water, then apply an EPA-approved disinfectant. Follow the instructions on the product label regarding contact time and proper usage.

Alternatively, you can use a solution of diluted bleach or alcohol-based wipes with at least 70% alcohol content. Before using bleach, make sure the surface can tolerate it.

3. Are there any natural alternatives for disinfection?

Depends what you mean by natural. Bleach, 70% Isopropyl Alcohol, or 3% Hydrogen Peroxide are all safe, relatively eco-friendly, low-chemical cleaners that will disinfect surfaces. You just need to make sure they won’t damage the surface you’re cleaning.

The following popular “natural” cleaners are not disinfectants: vinegar, lemon juice, baking soda and essential oils. Vinegar and lemon juice kill a lot of germs, but not like alcohol, bleach or peroxide.

Tea tree oil may be disinfecting according to some studies, but more research is needed and it’s not clear how to make a homemade cleaner from it that will for sure kill all the germs alcohol and other others kill.

4. Should I wear disposable gloves while disinfecting?

The “correct” way to disinfect in hospitals includes wearing disposable gloves so you don’t touch dirty surfaces and then touch them again after cleaning them.

At home, I wear reusable gloves to protect my skin. But to prevent cross-contamination, I’m just careful not to touch cleaned surfaces with my hands until I’m done. Then I wash my hands and the gloves in soap and water, and that’s it.

5. Can I use disinfecting wipes on all surfaces?

Disinfecting wipes are fine for most hard, non-porous surfaces. However, don’t use them on delicate surfaces like leather, unfinished wood, or certain electronics.

Always check the manufacturer’s instructions or test a small patch on a surface before cleaning the whole surface.

6. Is it necessary to ventilate the room after disinfecting?

Ventilating the room after disinfecting is a good practice to allow fresh air to circulate and help remove any residual fumes from the disinfectant. Opening windows and using fans can aid in proper ventilation.

7. Can’t I just use UV light to disinfect high-touch surfaces?

UV light can be effective in disinfecting surfaces, but these devices are not being tested or regulated by any authority right now.

Hospitals use UV lights that are professionally installed by experts in that field. At this point in time, you can’t just buy a device off the internet and have any assurance it’s going to actually do what it says it will.