April 7, 2020

Michigan Poison Center issues reminder about disinfection products

The Michigan Poison Center at the Wayne State University School of Medicine urges everyone to use only those disinfection products intended for household use. Because many of these products are in short supply, some have been substituting products not meant for use in the home. The center continues to receive calls regarding the misuse of automotive products, household and industrial cleaning products and disinfectants, and other household and industrial products. Misusing these products is dangerous and can be life-threatening.

Never drink or apply the following products to skin or any part of the body:

  • Antifreeze
  • Chafing fuel
  • Household or industrial cleaning products and disinfectants
  • Lighter fluid
  • Paint thinner
  • Solvents
  • Windshield washer fluid

Misusing these products can cause serious burns to the eyes, skin, mouth, throat and stomach. Alcohols in these products are not known to fight COVID-19 and are poisonous, leading to hospitalization if ingested. Hand-washing with soap and water remains the best hand hygiene. If this option is not available, use of hand sanitizer may be substituted. Alcohols in hand sanitizer are either ethanol or rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) at 70% alcohol per volume, which can be used to sanitize skin. Do not drink rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer.

Standard laundry soaps are adequate to disinfect clothing and non-medical fabric masks. Wash on the hottest tolerable temperature for the fabric and dry on high. Do not wash clothing, masks and gloves with automotive products, paint thinner, solvents, fuels, household or industrial cleaning products and disinfectants. Disposable gloves should be used once and then immediately disposed of in the trash. Do not clean and reuse disposable gloves. Wipe down hampers with disinfectant and wash laundry bags.

If disinfectant solutions are not available, 70% alcohol or a diluted bleach solution can be used. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends five tablespoons (one-third cup) household regular bleach (5%) diluted into a gallon of water or four teaspoons bleach in a quart of water. Note that this may discolor or harm certain surfaces and fabrics. Call the Michigan Poison Center if you have questions about the safe use of household and industrial products.

The Michigan Poison Center can be reached all day, every day by calling 1-800-222-1222.


Phil Van Hulle, Wayne State University School of Medicine
Phone: 586-206-8130
Email: pvanhulle@med.wayne.edu

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