How does disinfection work and what is disinfectant use for at home?

Cleaning and disinfecting your home is important to keep germs at bay. But how does disinfection work? And what is disinfectant used for at home? Learn how to use disinfectant around the house in this handy guide.

Updated 6 April 2023


AuthorBy Cleanipedia Team

Reading Time7 minutes

person wearing yellow cleaning gloves using a blue spray bottle to clean surfaces

Keeping your household safe, happy, and healthy is important and knowing how to use disinfectants and how to use them safely is essential to maintaining this balance. Not sure where to start? Not to worry, this ultimate disinfectant guide is here to answer all of your questions, from ‘what is disinfectant spray?’ to how to use disinfectant and more.

Always follow the instructions on household disinfectant labels, test your product on an inconspicuous spot first and ensure you use them safely with proper precautions.

What is disinfectant spray and disinfectant?

Disinfectants are chemical liquids used to destroy bacteria. Examples include:

  • Alcohol

  • Chlorine

  • Hydrogen peroxide

How does disinfection work?

Disinfectants are antimicrobial agents that work by destroying microorganisms living on surfaces. Using disinfectants on surfaces helps to ensure that they are clean and free from bacteria and germs.

What is disinfectant used for

Disinfectants are used to help clean surfaces and destroy bacteria. As you’ll see below, there are many uses for disinfectants in the home.

Does disinfectant kill viruses?

Wondering: does disinfectant kill bacteria and viruses? The answer is: YES! But how does disinfection kill viruses? This largely depends on the type of disinfectant you use, but in general, disinfectants work by destroying the bacterium genome and prevents it from replication.

How to use disinfectant safely

While disinfectants are common household cleaning products, they are chemicals, so it’s always important to follow the below steps to keep safe when using disinfectant:    

  • Always read the label: It is important to always read the label of your product to ensure you’re using it properly.

  • Gloves: It is best to wear rubber gloves when cleaning with disinfectant, particularly if you have sensitive skin, as the chemicals can cause irritation.

  • Storage: Store disinfectants and other cleaning supplies away from direct sunlight and out of reach of little hands and paws.

What do you use disinfectant for?

Now you know the answer to ‘what is disinfectant used for?’ and how to use disinfectant safely, let’s look at how to use disinfectant around the house to keep your home germ-free. You can use disinfectant to help clean and sanitise the whole household – simply follow these simple steps.

How to use disinfectant spray to clean kitchen countertops

Your kitchen countertops should be cleaned daily. Always clean down any surfaces you have used for food preparation immediately, especially if you have been handling raw meat.

  1. 1

    Spray the countertop with a disinfectant designed to tackle

  2. 2

    Use a clean, soft cloth to wipe the surface where you have sprayed.

  3. 3

    Leave to air dry.

This method can also be used to clean your kitchen sink, however, with the sink we recommend using a towel to dry it after cleaning. For more information on how to clean and disinfect a kitchen sink, check out this handy kitchen cleaning guide.

How to use disinfectant spray on chopping boards

Chopping boards come in to contact with a variety of foodstuffs and so it’s important to keep them clean to avoid cross-contamination. Chopping boards should be cleaned after every use, but particularly if they have come into contact with foodstuffs such as raw meat and fish, disinfecting them is important also.

  1. 1

    Use a chlorine-based bleach: When it comes to disinfecting chopping boards, soak the board in a solution of 1 tablespoon of chlorine-based bleach to a gallon of water.

  2. 2

    Allow to soak for half an hour and then rinse thoroughly.

  3. 3

    Allow to air-dry upright.

We have more information about disinfecting chopping boards

Does disinfectant spray work when cleaning the bins?

Yes! Wondering ‘does disinfectant clean bins and sanitise them?’ then the answer is a resounding yes. Simply follow the below steps depending on whether you’re doing a quick daily rinse or a deeper, bi-weekly clean:

  • Daily: Spray a disinfectant over your bin every day, using a soft cloth to wipe the lid and around the top of the bin.

  • Biweekly: Every two weeks ensure you also spray and wipe the interior of the bin with disinfectant.

  • Extra care: Baking soda or a bin deodoriser can also be sprinkled to get rid of the nasty smells which inevitably accumulate.

How to clean kitchen cupboard handles, doors and more

Below we have some simple steps for how to clean kitchen door handles, doors, shelves and more!

  1. 1

    Mix 1 teaspoon of mild washing-up liquid in 1 pint of warm water. Dip a clean, soft cloth into the soapy water and use this to wash down the surfaces of your cupboard from the door to the handle to the shelf.

  2. 2

    Next, spray each area with disinfectant spray. Use a soft cloth to wipe the surface.

  3. 3

    Leave to air-dry. Always ensure your shelves are fully dry before replacing food and other contents on them.

How to disinfect your fridge

Your fridge is where you store the food and drink you are planning to consume, and so it’s unsurprising that it’s important to keep it clean. Follow these steps to disinfect your fridge and keep it safe:

  1. 1

    Remove all food and drink before starting.

  2. 2

    Remove any trays and shelves to make sure you’re cleaning them properly and not missing any hard-to-reach ares.

  3. 3

    Use a multi-purpose cleaner, such as Cif Multi-Purpose, which is safe to use inside fridges.

  4. 4

    Wipe down the fridge with a clean, microfibre cloth to remove any excess cleaner and to dry the fridge.

For more fridge-cleaning tips, check out this fridge cleaning guide.

How to disinfect bathroom surfaces from toilet to sink

Ensure you have a clean space to clean yourself with after the following tips for disinfecting your bathroom.

Always wipe down the surfaces in your bathroom regularly. Pay particular attention to hot spots such as:

  • Toilet bowl

  • Under-sink taps

  • Around the showerhead

  • Toilet roll holder

Bacteria like to breed in damp environments so air your bathroom whenever possible, by cracking open a window.

For a convenient multi-purpose tool to clean and disinfect your bathroom invest in a product like Domestos.

  • Always wear gloves and protective gear when handling bleach.

  • Read the label and follow manufacturer guidelines to use these products safely.

  • For a more natural approach, using vinegar and baking soda to clean including removing soap scum and unblock drains.

Don’t forget to wash bathmats and shower curtains to prevent a build-up of scum, dirt and bacteria.

How to disinfect your living room

As one of the most used rooms in the house, it is important to spray and wipe down most touched areas including the tv remote and door handles. Here are a few easy steps for how to clean doorknobs and handles:

  1. 1

    Use a soft cloth dipped in warm soapy water to wipe the surface of the door handle or knob.

  2. 2

    Use a soft-bristled brush to remove stubborn dirt.

  3. 3

    Use a clean, dry cloth to dry off the handle or knob.

  4. 4

    Spray disinfectant on the handle or knob and use a cloth to wipe the surface.

  5. 5

    Leave to air-dry.

How to disinfect your dining room

Whether you have a kitchen diner or a separate dining room, it is essential you wipe down your table and chairs regularly. We recommend cleaning them before serving up meals, not just after! Always use products suitable for the make-up of your table and chairs. For example:

  • Take special care not to scratch glass table tops.

  • Don’t over saturate wooden tables as this could cause the wood to swell and change shape.

  • Use specialist leather wipes for leather dining chairs.

How to disinfect your bedroom

You want a clean, safe place to sleep at night so take care to clean down your bedroom surfaces regularly. Take care to clean drawer, wardrobe and cupboard handle using antibacterial wipes or spray like Surf disinfectant.

Don’t forget other regularly touched areas such as curtain ties, blind chains and light switches.

Other disinfectant questions

We have covered pretty much all aspects of how to use disinfectant at home and answering the question ‘what is disinfectant used for?’ but now let’s answer other common disinfectant-related questions:

Can you use bathroom disinfectant in the kitchen?

Disinfectants for specific rooms are often designed to tackle specific problems such as food and grease in the kitchen, and dirt and grime in the bathroom. However, you can find lots of effective, multipurpose disinfectant sprays that will do the job no matter where you use them.

What is the best disinfectant to use to clean bathrooms and kitchens?

There are several all-in-one products to clean bathrooms and kitchens, as well as products specifically designed for the bathroom and the kitchen. When looking for the best disinfectant for these rooms, opt for one that is proven to kill bacteria and viruses, including E. coli and influenza, such as Seventh Generation’s antibacterial wipes and sprays.

And that’s it! The ultimate disinfectant guide for keeping your household happy and healthy.

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