CDC says soap, rather than disinfectant, enough to reduce COVID-19 surface spread 'in most situations'

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidance on cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in the home, clarifying that "in most situations" regular household cleaners and soap are fine to use to lower the risk of coronavirus exposure — rather than disinfectant. 

"Disinfection is only recommended in indoor settings, schools, and homes where there has been a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 24 hours," CDC Director Rochelle Walensky said Monday at the White House COVID-19 response briefing.

Walensky said effective, routine cleaning at least once per day with soap or detergent can "substantially reduce virus levels on surfaces." 

In homes where someone is sick, or someone infected with COVID-19 has been in the past 24 hours, the CDC says on its website that "disinfecting will kill any remaining germs on surfaces and reduces the spread of germs."

The CDC director noted evidence showing that surface transmission of the virus is "low." 

"The main way people are infected with COVID-19 is through close, person-to-person contact, typically between people who are physically near each other within about 6 feet," Walensky added.

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FILE - Dr. Rochelle Walensky, head of the Centers for Disease Control, speaks during a news conference at the Queen Theater Dec. 8, 2020 in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic when less was known about the novel coronavirus and how it spreads, sales of disinfectant sprays and wipes soared — often faster than stores could restock. 

In March of 2020, Amazon deleted more than 1 million products that falsely claimed to cure or defend against COVID-19. The e-commerce giant also removed tens of thousands of deals from merchants that the company said tried to price-gouge customers. 

Social media platforms also faced a surge of ads from users attempting to capitalize on the pandemic. Facebook temporarily prohibited ads and commerce listings of hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes to help protect against scams, inflated prices and hoarding.

White House officials repeated pleas for Americans to remain vigilant and continue with public health measures — such as wearing a mask "consistently and correctly" and washing hands — to help stop the spread of the virus as the country’s mass vaccination campaign continues.

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This story was reported from Cincinnati.