Clorox vs. Lysol: Which Disinfecting Wipes Kill More Germs?

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Wiping down surfaces with disinfecting wipes is an easy and convenient way to rid your home of germs. 

There are dozens of disinfecting wipes on the market, but the two most trusted brands are Clorox and Lysol. 

If you’re looking to stock up, but not sure which brand to buy, you’re probably wondering: 

Do Clorox and Lysol wipes kill the coronavirus? 

Clorox and Lysol disinfecting wipes meet the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. According to the EPA, the contact time (or wet time) to effectively disinfect a hard surface is four minutes for Clorox wipes and ten minutes for Lysol wipes. You can view the full list of EPA-approved disinfectants and get much more information on this topic on EPA.gov.

Which disinfecting kill more germs?

Clorox and Lysol disinfecting wipes kill 99.9% of germs, bacteria, and viruses when used as directed. The key phrase to pay attention to is: when used as directed. To kill 99.9% of germs, you need to use enough wipes so that the surface you’re cleaning remains wet for four minutes, or longer if you’re disinfecting the coronavirus.

Most people associate Clorox with bleach; however, both Clorox and Lysol disinfecting wipes are completely free of bleach. Instead, their active ingredient is Alkyl C12-18 Dimethylbenzyl Ammonium Chloride. This ingredient is an antimicrobial ammonium compound responsible for disinfecting and sanitizing surfaces. It’s a common ingredient used in many different Environmental Protection Agency approved cleaning products and solutions.

Besides the germ-killing ingredient that Clorox and Lysol share, their other ingredients differ slightly but serve the same purposes. These minor material differences have no impact on their ability to kill germs.

If killing germs is your main concern, you should focus less on which brand to choose and more on understanding how to properly use them to get the maximum effect.

By the way, if you’re looking to re-stock your cleaning cabinet, both brands are very inexpensive on Amazon and WalMart.com at these links:

Now that you know the basics about Clorox and Lysol disinfecting wipes, let’s get into some more detail.

Use the links below to navigate this article quickly.

How to Properly Use Disinfecting Wipes

One of the main advantages of disinfecting wipes is that they are simple and convenient to use.

Before cleaning with a disinfecting wipe, use a paper towel or sponge to remove any major dirt or debris from the surface you are cleaning.

Once the surface is clear of debris, clean it thoroughly with disinfecting wipes and let it air dry.

To ensure the surface is completely disinfected of germs, use enough wipes so that the surface remains visibly wet for 4 minutes. In the case of the coronavirus, the EPA recommends ensuring the surface is visibly wet for 10 minutes if you’re using Lysol wipes, and 4 if you’re using Clorox wipes.

Giving the product time to work is the key part of the directions that most people gloss over. If you wipe down an entire kitchen counter with one wipe, it’ll probably dry in less than a minute. For small surfaces, one wipe could be enough, but for larger surfaces, you’ll likely need to use more than one.

Clorox Disinfecting Wipes Directions
Clorox Disinfecting Wipes Directions
Lysol Disinfecting Wipes Directions
Lysol Disinfecting Wipes Directions

After you’re done cleaning the surface, throw the disinfecting wipe in the trash. Do not flush wipes down the toilet.

Close the container’s lid to retain moisture.

Do Clorox and Lysol Wipes Kill the Coronavirus? 

Clorox and Lysol wipes meet the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). 

If you view the EPA’s full list of approved disinfectants and search for “Clorox Disinfecting Wipes” and “Lysol® Disinfecting Wipes” (include the ® symbol), you’ll find more information, including how long the surface must remain wet for the wipes to kill the virus effectively. 

In the case of Clorox wipes, the surface must remain wet for four minutes to kill the coronavirus. With Lysol wipes, the surface must remain wet for ten minutes. 

The EPA states that the approved disinfectants, including Clorox and Lysol wipes, haven’t been tested specifically against SARS-CoV-2, but quality for the list because they’ve proven effective against harder-to-kill viruses, or human coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV-2.

What Types of Germs Do Disinfecting Wipes Kill?

Besides the coronavirus, Clorox and Lysol wipes are effective at killing many other types of germs, bacteria, and viruses.

Clorox claims (Clorox.com, go to “FAQ”>”Product Benefits”) to be able to kill the following viruses and bacteria:

  • Viruses: Human Coronavirus, Influenza A2 Virus, and Rhinovirus.
  • Bacteria: Staph, E. coli, MRSA, Salmonella, Strep and Kleb.

Below is a look at the back of the label that outlines the exact viruses and bacteria that Clorox wipes kill.

What Germs Do Clorox Wipes Kill
Back of Clorox Wipes Label

Here’s a closer look:

What Germs Do Clorox Wipes Kill 4
Back of Clorox Wipes Label

Lysol claims (Lysol.com, go to the “Safety Information” section) to be able to kill the following viruses and bacteria.

  • Viruses: Herpes Simplex Virus Type 1, Human Coronavirus, Influenza A Virus, and Respiratory Syncytial Virus.
  • Bacteria: Streptococcus pyogenes (Strep), Staphylococcus aureus (Staph), Escherichia coli O157:H7 (E. coli), and Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).

Lysol also claims that their wipes kill 95% of allergens, including pet dander, dust mites, and pollen.

For information about whether Clorox and Lysol wipes kill a specific virus, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency websites, or contact Clorox and Lysol directly. 

What Surfaces Do Disinfecting Wipes Work On?

One of the most frequently asked questions about disinfecting wipes is around what surfaces you can use them on and what surfaces you should avoid.

Clorox disinfecting wipes

Disinfecting Wipes Are Great for These Surfaces

The good news—you can use disinfection wipes on almost any hard non-porous surface. They great for bathrooms, kitchens, floors, car interiors, doorknobs, light switches, furniture, electronics, and more.

Disinfecting wipes are safe on finished hardwood, stainless steel, acrylic, sealed fiberglass, ceramic, and plastic. They are great for mobile phones and TV remotes that are known to harbor germs and rarely get cleaned.

Do Not Use Disinfecting Wipes on These Surfaces

Although disinfecting wipes don’t contain any extremely harsh chemicals, they contain surfactants that have grease-cutting properties that can damage some soft finishes. Do not use them on unpainted wood and unfinished, waxed or oiled surfaces.

Clorox and Lysol permit the use of their wipes on sealed granite; however, many people argue against that because the citric acid in the wipes could degrade the sealant. In my experience, using soap and water is the best way to clean granite, so I’d save the wipes for other surfaces.

Avoid using disinfecting wipes on dishware, glassware, and any other eating utensils.

They won’t harm glass, mirrors, and TV/computer screens, but they will leave behind streaks. For those surfaces, I recommend using glass specific cleaners like Windex or vinegar-based cleaning sprays.

Do not, under any circumstances, use disinfecting wipes as a personal cleanser on your skin or as a baby wipe.

What Are the Differences Between Clorox and Lysol Disinfecting Wipes?

Clorox and Lysol disinfecting wipes both kill 99.9% of germs and are fundamentally the same; however, they have a couple of differences worth mentioning.

First, they contain different ingredients. Their ingredients serve the same purpose but are not the same.

Secondly, Clorox and Lysol make different types of wipes that have unique features for specific functions. For example, Clorox has extra strength wipes with more fibers to take on significant messes, while Lysol has wipes that contain hydrogen peroxide to penetrate and dissolve soap scum and grime. 

Let’s take a closer look at each of their differences, starting with their ingredients.

Clorox Wipes Ingredients

Clorox wipes are water-based and contain the following ingredients:

  • Hexoxyethanol is used as a solvent to cut grease and gunk.
  • Alkyl (C12-18 and C12-14) Dimethylbenzyl Ammonium Chloride is used as the active antimicrobial ingredient responsible for sanitizing.
  • C12-14 Alcohols Ethoxylated Propoxylated is another grease-cutting agent.
  • Citric Acid is a natural acid used to clean soap scum and mineral deposits from hard water effectively.
  • d-Limonene is used to dissolve stains and add fragrance.
  • Isopropanol Alcohol is a common solvent with antimicrobial properties.
  • Sodium Bicarbonate, also known as Baking Soda, builds alkalinity and removes calcium and other deposits.

Lysol Wipes Ingredients

The ingredients in Lysol disinfecting wipes serve the same purpose as Clorox’s ingredients but are slightly different. In addition to water which acts as a diluent, Lysol wipes contain the following:

  • Ethanol Alcohol acts as a sanitizer and adds fragrance.
  • Alkyl (C14 50%, C12 40%, C16 10%) Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride is the main active ingredient responsible for killing germs.
  • Alkyl Polyglucoside cuts through dirt and bad odors.
  • Propylene Glycol Butyl Ether acts as a solvent.
  • Ethanolamine is an organic chemical compound used to control pH levels.
  • Additional Fragrance to provide a fresh scent.

Product Options

Clorox and Lysol both make standard disinfecting wipes, but they also offer wipes for specific needs. 

Clorox’s standard disinfecting wipes come in three difference fragrances: Fresh Scent, Orange Fusion, and Crisp Lemon. They also make the following wipes designed with unique features and functions to meet a variety of cleaning needs.

(The links take you to Amazon where you can learn more about each product and read dozens of reviews)

Lysol disinfecting wipes come in several different fragrances, including Lemon and Lime Blossom, Ocean Fresh, Early Morning Breeze, Crisp Linen. For the record, my favorite by far is Lemon and Lime Blossom, but the others are very popular as well.

Similar to Clorox, Lysol also makes variations of their standard wipes for specific uses.

How Much Do They Cost?

In general, the price of Clorox and Lysol disinfecting wipes are very similar. They typically range from 4 to 7 cents per wipe, but the exact price depends on where you buy them and the size of the package you purchase.

Like most disposable household cleaning products, as the size of the package increases, the cost per unit decreases. If you have the storage space in your house, you can save by purchasing value packs that include hundreds of wipes. 

If you need disinfecting wipes, Amazon has dozens of different size packages and makes it easy to compare prices between Clorox and Lysol.

Check current prices of Clorox disinfecting wipes on Amazon

Check current prices of Lysol disinfecting wipes on Amazon

Keep in mind the Clorox and Lysol wipes both kill 99.9% of germs, so find the type of wipe and fragrance you like and look for the package with the lowest cost per wipe. 

If you found this article helpful, you should also check out:

11 thoughts on “Clorox vs. Lysol: Which Disinfecting Wipes Kill More Germs?”

    • Hi Debra,

      Both Clorox and Lysol wipes contain water.

      When they dry out, just add a little bit of water to rehydrate.

      As long as you don’t soak the wipes or hold them under running water for more than a couple of seconds, the other ingredients will remain intact, and they should work as expected.

      Good luck!
      Andrew

      Reply
  1. Are lysol and Clorox wipes safe to use one after another or will any of the chemicals react together?

    Reply
    • Hi Brooke – Great question! Clorox and Lysol wipes are completely safe to use one after another. The chemicals will not react.

      Reply
  2. Can you please tell me if Clorox wipes or Lysol wipes are Made in Canada . I think Lysol wipes are made in the USA if I’m reading the container correctly .
    Thank you

    Reply
  3. I have run out of hand sanitizer. Can I use wipes on my hands until I can get to a place to properly wash my hands? As well, can I use wipes to kill the virus on my credit card and my keys? If so, how long do I need to wipe the above-mentioned surfaces, specifically, hands, credit card and keys. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Leslie,

      No, you should not use these wipes on your hands. They are intended for use on hard, non-porous surfaces only. As I mentioned in the article, “Do not, under any circumstances, use disinfecting wipes as a personal cleanser on your skin or as a baby wipe.” This recommendation is based on instructions stated on Clorox.com (go to FAQ > Safety).

      Yes, you can use them on keys and credit cards. Wipe them completely and make sure you use enough wipes so that the surfaces of these objects are wet for at least 4 minutes; one or two wipes should do the trick.

      I hope this helps!
      Andrew

      Reply
  4. Why aren’t Lysol Disinfecting Wipes on the EPA’s Registered Antimicrobial Products for Use Against Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the Cause of COVID-19 list?

    Reply

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