Antibacterial wipes seem like the superheroes of cleaning supplies: They’re easy to grab, completely disposable, and promise a clean and disinfected counter — if (and only if!) you use them absolutely correctly. Even though these cleaners are billed as “easy,” they still require your care and attention when you use them. Make a wrong move, and all of their superpowers essentially disappear.
So if you only grab one piece to wipe down your entire kitchen island, you’re doing it wrong: You likely need two or three to really get the job done. Bummer, we know. But Michaelle Exhume, a product analyst in the Cleaning Lab at the Good Housekeeping Institute, says it’s worth the extra wipe or two: “It’s not good practice to use one wipe across multiple surfaces, because this will likely cause cross-contamination.” (Yuck!)
But more than anything, Exhume recommends following the manufacturer’s directions: “If the area wiped does not remain wet for the time directed on the package, you’re only removing dirt and debris on the surface, not disinfecting,” says Exhume.
The bottom line: These trusty wipes are still effective, but each individual one might not go as far as you think. So just make sure you buy ’em in bulk from now on.