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Are disinfectants harmful to children? Can children apply disinfectants?

Children should not apply disinfectants, including disinfectant cleaning wipes. All disinfectant labels include the statement “Keep Out of Reach of Children,” as children are considered a sensitive population. Disinfectants are powerful tools for controlling the spread of disease, and they can harm children's health if used or stored incorrectly.

Always follow the label directions. A part of EPA’s responsibility is to ensure that if you follow the label directions, no unreasonable adverse effects on human health, including the health of children, will occur.

Any person applying disinfectants in children's environments should follow best practices for safe and effective disinfection. EPA-registered disinfectants are for use on surfaces, not humans. Never apply disinfectants to skin or directly to food. Do not mix products unless the label specifically tells you to.

For information on safe and effective disinfection, see our infographic.

For information on adverse outcomes of disinfectants for children, see the CDC's article on calls to poison control centers.

For information on high-risk practices related to disinfectants, see the CDC's article on knowledge and practices related to household cleaning and disinfection.

Information in this FAQ does not apply to any products used on people. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates hand sanitizers, antiseptic washes, and antibacterial soaps for use on people.

Return to Frequent Questions about Disinfectants and Coronavirus (COVID-19).