What chemical product should I use to disinfect surfaces that may get in contact with the food? (wooden table where I knead bread/pasta and etc)

With this COVID-19 frenzy it's impossible to find alcohol (what I usually use for cleaning) so my wife bough a bunch of Clorox desinfecting wipes. I was wondering if it's safe to use it

  • 2
    Are you wanting to clean to avoid COVID-19 specifically, or are you asking about general cleaning using an alternative to your normal product due to shortages? It seems answers are making different assumptions. (I'm guessing you want the latter, but no harm in clarifying it.)
    – Kat
    Mar 24, 2020 at 2:29
  • 2
    Note that bleach is not a cleaner, it’s a disinfectant. If you want to clean things, you need a soap.
    – Rob
    Mar 25, 2020 at 0:46
  • Thank you all for the contributions. I'm looking for a safe way to manipulate food in these surfaces. So before I dump my dough into my table to kead it, how should I clean it? Water and soap are enough, or it's a good idea to use alcohol or bleach after that.
    – Croves
    Mar 25, 2020 at 16:25
  • 2
    Croves — you should clean first (with a soap or detergent) and then disinfect, especially if there was raw meat involved or if you're concerned about contamination from a virus. If you're just cleaning a cutting board after chopping carrots, cleaning is probably enough.
    – myklbykl
    Mar 25, 2020 at 16:28
  • Does this answer your question? Does soap kill germs?
    – Erica
    Mar 26, 2020 at 11:41

5 Answers 5


This is honestly a HUGE topic, with literally reams of government guidelines on what's effective for surface disinfection. For example:

So partly this depends on how sanitized you want things to be. For my part, I just clean my counters with a mixture of Simple Green (a concentrated organic soap) and water. If you're really concerned, you could do a second washing with a weak bleach solution (wear gloves!).


To disinfect use 1/3 cup bleach per gallon of water.


To clean, use a detergent or soap. You should clean first, then disinfect.

  • Bleach is not a cleaner! It's a disinfectant only.
    – Rob
    Mar 25, 2020 at 0:48
  • Rob — since the OP was looking for a replacement for alcohol, I believe they are looking for a disinfectant, and my answer is correct.
    – myklbykl
    Mar 25, 2020 at 3:25
  • Read the title, "How to properly clean surfaces". Alcohol is not a cleaner, either.
    – Rob
    Mar 25, 2020 at 11:17
  • If you read the actual content of the question he was looking for an alternative to alcohol. If you're worried about semantics you could simply correct the title of the question as I just did. He is clearly worried about killing a virus as he specifically mentions COVID-19 and alcohol.
    – myklbykl
    Mar 25, 2020 at 16:08

Like most viruses it's easily damaged, soapy water is enough. It has a protective lipid layer so anything that damages that helps. Alcohols and anything alkaline are your best bet.


  • 2
    a hot soapy water bucket with a damp towel should not make a mess.
    – Max
    Mar 23, 2020 at 22:58
  • 3
    There are these amazing new tools called "sponges".
    – FuzzyChef
    Mar 23, 2020 at 23:45
  • 1
    @FuzzyChef That are liable to become breeding grounds for germs in their own right.
    – nick012000
    Mar 24, 2020 at 4:20
  • 1
    @nick012000 - just the same as anything else.. cloths or towels, if you don't clean them. Sponges aren't magically more dirty than any other medium.
    – Tetsujin
    Mar 24, 2020 at 10:55
  • 2
    fwiw, in my area, health departments forbid sponges in restaurant kitchens.
    – Rob
    Mar 25, 2020 at 11:18

There is a school of thought that says these antibacterial sanitisers tend to be effective only against the little bugs that are virtually harmless but, by their numbers, manage to keep the big bad guys from multiplying. I’m not a scientist so I don’t know and I imagine the chemical companies certainly would not agree! I find white vinegar with some drops of lavender and peppermint oil in a spray bottle does the job well - and these are the basic ingredients of most eco-friendly cleaners. You can buy 4x5 litres of it on the web for about £14 and you can use it for cleaning glass, killing weeds as well as cleaning surfaces so it’s a pretty good bargain. I’ve used it for about 6 years and it does a good job. Btw you can use whatever essential oils you like though some, like lavender and lemon etc, are reputedly more anti bacterial. Apparently the Romans used lavender oil to clean their hands etc hence the word Lavatory meaning originally -place where you clean yourself-. Lavar in Spanish means to wash - from the same root as lavender.


When in my kitchen cooking, cleaning, washing dishes, I always have a clean dish pan of hot soapy water that I’ve added a few sprays (3-5) of cleaner with bleach (Clorox clean up) Before I start cooking, surfaces are wiped. I use separate cutting boards n knives for meats n veggies. Countertop wiped in between. I use both a dish cloth and sponge, cloth gets laundered, sponge get put in the dishwasher at the end of the day. If I haven’t cooked with meats, the cloth and sponge can be left out to dry overnight and used again the next day. The key is letting it dry out as bacteria multiply in moisture. Also don’t be afraid to change the water frequently in the dish pan especially if you’re going to wash dishes by hand. I always immerse my dishes And a fresh pan of hot soapy water with bleach after I’ve rinsed them off. Cleaning water should always be clear, hot, and soapy. I’m 60 years old and no one has died yet from eating from my kitchen. It’s not rocket science, just good common sense! Hope this helps, sent with love ❤️

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