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Disinfectants: FAQ for consumers

26 August 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased interest in disinfectant products. This page provides consumers with answers to frequently asked questions in relation to these products.

When you use a disinfectant, you should read the product label and follow the directions, including the method of application as the safety and effectiveness of a disinfectant may change based on how you use it. If the label doesn't include disinfection directions for a certain method of application, the product may not be safe and effective when used in this way.

No. Adding other products including alcohol, bleach or vinegar to an existing disinfectant is unlikely to result in an effective product. Mixing cleaning and disinfection products together can also result in fumes that may be very dangerous to breathe in.

Disinfectants are products that are intended to be used on inanimate surfaces, not humans. They should not be applied on skin or ingested.

If your child ingests a disinfectant product you should call the Poisons Information Centre or contact a medical professional immediately.

If you want to make a complaint about advertising directed to the public, please visit the TGA's web page on how to make an advertising complaint.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) has identified disinfectants as being critical in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Disinfectants with claims against viruses including the COVID-19 virus should be listed on the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG). In order to ensure the disinfectant is effective, the TGA encourages consumers to follow the instructions on the label and take appropriate care with respect to any hazard warnings.

Homemade disinfectants are not formulated specifically to be anti-viral, and improper mixing of solutions could put people's health at risk. Further, mixing chemicals may create new toxic chemicals, and a commercial disinfectant may lose its effectiveness when mixed with other products, including homemade cleaning products.