Breaking News
More () »

VERIFY: Generic disinfectants as effective as name brands, if this number is on label

Dr. Chris Ohl affirmed generic disinfectants can be just as sufficient as name brands, as long as they contain EPA registration numbers.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, wipes and disinfectant spray are household workplace staples. But, depending on the brand, they vary considerably in price, and you'll often find the limited-supply name brands marked up for re-sale on third-party sites.

RELATED: Lysol, hand sanitizer may be hard to find until August, experts say


Good Morning Show viewer Pearl Gardner asked Meghann Mollerus to VERIFY, "Disinfectant Lysol spray and Lysol or Clorox wipes -- are they better for use than store brands?"



Wake Forest Baptist Health infectious disease expert, Dr. Chris Ohl, said, "For most purposes, any of the household disinfectants are sufficient, whether they are brand name or generic. Shoppers should look to buy products with an EPA registration number on the label."

He further explained, "If you need to disinfect for a non-fabric surface and don't have an EPA-registered disinfectant, you can use 10% household bleach (1 oz. bleach in 10 oz. water) as an alternative, but it may fade colors if used repeatedly."

RELATED: Can’t find hand sanitizer? Make your own!

Ohl mentioned EPA registration, which is a designation that means scientists have evaluated the ingredients in a product for health hazards. To know whether a disinfectant is EPA-registered, look very closely at the label for a series of numbers separated by hyphens (for example, EPA REG. No. 11525-30-41348). It might be in tiny fine print at the bottom. 

Credit: Meghann Mollerus
The EPA registration number for this Walmart-brand (Great Value) Lysol is at the very bottom of the label.

RELATED: EPA approves 2 Lysol products as effective in killing coronavirus on surfaces

If you don't want to strain your eyes at the store, there is an easier way to tell whether a product is EPA-registered. Use the EPA's pesticide product and label system search page. Type in the registration number or product name and see all of the registered products associated with that brand. Note several products might have the same first seven digits, meaning the EPA considers them equivalent products. 

Quick searches of Lysol and Great Value bring up all of the EPA-registered products for those brands, including wipes and disinfectant sprays. They both also appear on the EPA's list of disinfectant products that can fight COVID-19.


Yes, store-brand disinfectants can be just as effective and safe as their name-brand equivalents. The EPA suggests following the label directions and the contact time, which is the amount of time the surface should be visibly wet with the product, so it can take effect.

Do you have a VERIFY inquiry? Submit a post, selfie video or screen shot of the article in question to Meghann Mollerus via:

Facebook: Meghann Mollerus News

Twitter: @MeghannMollerus

E-mail: Mmollerus@wfmy.com

Before You Leave, Check This Out