Honestly, I’m still learning about some cleaning products. I made an approximately 10% Lysol 90% water solution, dipped a small paper towel into it, and wiped all exterior sides (no interior) of a microwave (redipping up to 5 times as needed). I now realize I shouldn’t have wiped areas with vents. After about 10min I washed all sides with water. I’ve been rewashing with water the sides each day since. I read perhaps Lysol is inert when dry. What should I do additionally to try to make it safe to use? How long should I wait before using it?

  • each day since ... when ? just a simple wipe with damp towel should be enough.
    – Max
    May 18, 2020 at 20:12
  • Thanks, it originally occurred two days ago. I appreciate the advice. May 19, 2020 at 3:14
  • As a general comment about this, not one to @max, since this issue was voted down, in this time of covid-19 I think it is reasonable to ask about cleaning methods even if it turns out the method used was not an issue. Thank you again to the people who have provided helpful info. May 20, 2020 at 0:46

2 Answers 2


To further @Tetsujin's answer.

The Lysol product you have specified as Lysol Clean & Fresh Multi-Surface Cleaner is made of a number of active ingredients. The primary decontaminating component is Alkyl (50% C14, 40% C12, 10% C16) dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride. This is a member of what are known as Quaternary Ammonium Compounds or Quaternary Ammonium Cations (QACs). These are all very effective disinfectants against most bacterial pathogens and a wide range of viruses (including SARS-CoV-2 the cause of COVID-19 - see the list and concentrations here). There are a bunch of other things in there too, but most of it is ingredients that allow the QACs to work better, this includes the alcohols (surfactant), EDTA and Tetraborate (mineral sequestering - for hard water, which can inhibit QACs), or ways to make it smell nicer or look pretty.

QACs are generally irritants - they make your skin red and itchy, but they can also cause more severe damage on more sensitive tissues such as lungs, eyes and intestines if inhaled or swallowed. Generally these compounds are safe to use on hard surfaces like your microwave, but not on porous surfaces because the porous surfaces can absorb the disinfectant. Note that they are pretty common as bacteriostatics in contact storage solutions, eye-washes and nasal sprays (see Dermal section) - so the risks are relatively low.

Use of QACs on hard surfaces is fine - just wipe with water a couple of times after use will dilute it enough that it is no longer a problem for most people.

The vents on your microwave are not considered porous - porous surfaces are things with small holes that will absorb the ingredients and not allow them to be washed off easily. Examples of porous surfaces are unsealed wooden surfaces (e.g. chopping boards), sponges (you can use these for cleaning with though - just don't eat off them) and unglazed pottery/crockery. If you have used a QAC cleaner on these sorts of things, you should throw them out or re-purpose them so that you are not eating off them

Long story short - wipe with water a couple of times and you will be fine.

  • This is really helpful detailed information, thanks a bunch! I appreciate the advice and will be sure to put it to use. I particularly appreciate the info on what is porous or not. May 19, 2020 at 3:16
  • To further point out, it is not unusual at all that many restaurants one eats at use "quats" to sanitize their dishes and cooking tools. The question is much ado about nothing.
    – Rob
    May 19, 2020 at 10:25

Lysol is a trade name, covering a whole family of quite different products. You will need to be more specific.

In short, though… you rinse it with more water until it's gone. If it got inside places it shouldn't, then your choice is to attempt a DIY take-apart [really not recommended] or give it to a professional… or ignore it & eventually it the smell will go away, hopefully.

  • Thanks for the feedback! Specifically, the product I used is Lysol Clean & Fresh Multi-Surface Cleaner [1]. You mentioned giving it to a professional, what type of professional could I give it to? [1] amazon.com/gp/product/B000FCIMUI May 18, 2020 at 17:05
  • OK… so what are you actually concerned about? The smell? [Lysol doesn't exist much outside the US so I've never smelled that exact product]. I don't actually understand chemically what ingredients are, but if it's like many other similar products it's not harmful to humans in low concentrations… which is why you can wipe your worktops with it.
    – Tetsujin
    May 18, 2020 at 17:08
  • I am concerned that I didn't correctly follow the instructions on it and I used it on porous surfaces (should only use on non-porous), potentially ones that could have dripped inside the microwave. The instructions state that it should not come in contact with skin, let alone be eaten, even when diluted. What I would most like to know is how much time should go by for it to be non-hazardous if in accidental contact with food because it might have dripped into the microwave, and if there are ways to help clean it off. Thanks again for your responses. May 18, 2020 at 17:17
  • 1
    You don't need to take it to a professional, you just cleaned it. It's normal to wipe the outside of vents, just use the microwave as usual.
    – GdD
    May 18, 2020 at 18:37
  • 1
    If you are worried about stuff dripping on food, cover the food. Covering the food also reduces the need for cleaning the inside of the microwave.
    – Spagirl
    May 18, 2020 at 19:54

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