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Don’t Let Disinfecting Wipes Destroy the Planet—and Your Bottom Line

Disinfecting wipes—they’re seemingly inexpensive, readily available, convenient, disposable, and sometimes smell good. About half of U.S. homes stock the wipes, which are also finding their way into many commercial janitorial supply closets. While small coffee pods make headlines for their landfill-filling follies, consumers may not know that disinfecting wipes are just as bad for the planet. The Daily Mail reported in March 2015 that wipes are the fastest growing cause of pollution on beaches. Rather than disinfect and protect, the wipes contribute to noxious waste and trigger allergic reactions. Green janitorial services provide a better way keep the workplace healthy while saving costs and conserving the planet’s resources.

The Truth about Disinfecting Wipes

In some situations, disinfecting wipes are necessary for protecting human health, such as in hospitals, restaurants, and schools. Contrary to commercial ads, antibacterial wipes aren’t necessary for routine cleaning. Moreover, they are not effective unless you use them properly. Many wipes claim in big, bold text that they kill 99.9 percent of germs. The small print on the same packaging may state that the wipes have this efficacy after 15 seconds, which allows for rapid contamination. Depending on the wipe, a surface might need to stay wet with the wipe’s chemicals for up to 10 minutes.

Other instructions that you might find in the fine print include the following:

  • Wash hands after use
  • Do not use on skin
  • After using a wipe, wash or rinse the respective surfaces
  • Do not flush wipes down the toilet

Keep in mind that many wipes remove germs, rather than kill them. To kill germs, you need wipes that contain antimicrobial pesticides. Hospitals and health care facilities generally stock these types of wipes, which have chemicals that are so strong that workers must use gloves to protect their skin.

More Reasons to Not Purchase Disinfecting Wipes

  • The chemicals in wipes may cause skin irritation. Simply handling the ingredients in the wipes triggers skin rashes in some individuals.
  • The chemicals and fumes in wipes may trigger allergy and asthma symptoms, as well as other health concerns.
  • Many wipes contain plastic fibers that aren’t recyclable. Instead of breaking down, they fill landfills.
  • Despite the instructions, many individuals flush wipes down the toilet, clogging sewer and septic systems. These blockages sometimes result in raw sewage overflowing into homes, businesses, and watersheds.
  • Many wipes end up in freshwater and saltwater habitats. The alcohol, fragrances, preservatives, cleaning chemicals, and moisturizing agents in the wipes harm marine life and their sources of food.
  • Not all germs are bad. If you are a healthy individual, using too many antibacterial products may weaken your defenses against them.
  • Like all living organisms, germs evolve. Using too many antibacterial products may promote the creation of “superbugs,” bacteria that resist antibiotics.
  • Wipes are single-use items that are generally only effective for small surface areas. If you use a wipe on a cutting board, for example, you should not use the same one to clean the counter and sink. It is more effective to use one wipe for each small surface.
  • When you have to re-clean a surface after using an antibacterial wipe for routine cleaning, you are spending twice the money and time to do the same job as one green cleaning product. This is like throwing money in the trash.

A Better Option

For routine cleaning in your commercial building, ditch the wipes and turn to green janitorial services. These solutions include using effective cleansers that are nontoxic and biodegradable to clean surfaces. Professionals wipe surfaces clean using biodegradable disposable towels or clean washable towels, depending on the application. Not only are these solutions more Earth-friendly, they are more budget-friendly and less likely to irritate workers and customers. To learn more about green cleaning for all areas of your business, get in touch with Cleansolution today.