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Are Clorox Wipes Not Safe for Use on 'Food Surfaces' for High Chairs, Countertops and Tables?

A video went viral in April 2024 showing a mother talking about the purported dangers of cleaning "food surfaces" with Clorox disinfecting wipes.

Published May 1, 2024

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In late April 2024, U.S. TikTok user Chelsie Gilbert (@chelsiegilbert1) posted a video?she recorded in a Target store. In the clip, she made several claims about the purported dangers of Clorox disinfecting wipes being used to clean "food surfaces." Specifically, she mentioned cleaning high chairs, kitchen countertops and tables.

In Gilbert's video, she said she used to use Clorox disinfecting wipes in the "crisp lemon" and "fresh scent" varieties on her kids' high chairs, until someone told her to read the back of the container's label. Her text caption next to the video specifically mentioned the act of cleaning the removable eating tray included with high chairs.

"I just used to use these Clorox wipes, these and these, on my kids' high chairs,"?Gilbert said in the video. "Like, I would just wipe it off, and so they could eat. And then, someone told me these were not safe on food surfaces. But like, I wanted to believe it myself. I mean, I wanted to see it myself. It is literally like the tiniest. Like, I had to read it like three times to find it. But it's on here. It says, 'Not for use on food surfaces.'"

"So, there you have it. So, if you're like me and you used to use these on your kitchen countertops, or high chairs or your kitchen table, you're not supposed to do that on food surfaces, so good to know."

The video has since been virally shared by other online users, including self-described "conspiracy theorist" @WallStreetApes on X (formerly Twitter).

Snopes looked for Clorox's official instructions and advice about cleaning high chairs, countertops and tables. This information and our email correspondence with Clorox allowed us to check the facts behind Gilbert's claims, mainly looking to see if they lined up with the company's official guidance. We also contacted Gilbert via Messenger but did not receive a response within 24 hours.

Central to our findings was the fact the rear label on Clorox disinfecting wipes does not say they are "not for use on food surfaces." Further, the company provides step-by-step guides regarding how to use its Clorox Free & Clear product line of wipes to clean high chairs, for example. One of the keys with these products is apparently to find out whether you should rinse a surface with water after use. We've gathered a lot of information parents and other readers might find helpful, which is all presented below.

What Do Clorox Wipes' Labels Say?

In Gilbert's video, she held a container of the "fresh scent" (green) version of Clorox disinfecting wipes. She also pointed to the "lemon crisp" (yellow) version on the Target shelf.

The back side of Clorox disinfecting wipes containers display four illustrations as examples of where the product can be used: a kitchen, a bathroom, a school with tables and chairs and an office setting with a desk and chair.

The kitchen illustration (above) shows white, clean sparkles on the stove top, oven surface, backsplash and countertops. This is one of many indications we found that the company intends the wipes to be used on common surfaces in kitchens — including countertops — with consumers following the label's instructions to be sure they're using them as directed.

In our review of these labels, we found one part says what to do after using a Clorox disinfecting wipe and letting the surface dry. It reads, "For surfaces that may come in contact with food, a potable water rinse is required. This product is not intended for use on dishes, glassware or eating utensils." Again, the label does not say the wipes are "not for use on food surfaces," as was claimed in the TikTok video.

By email, a spokesperson for Clorox echoed some of the directions that appear on the product label and clarified about whether a rinse would be needed.

"If it's not a direct food contact surface, there's no need to rinse with potable water after cleaning and disinfecting," the spokesperson said. "So, for example, unless you are meal prepping directly on your countertop or serving food on the table (vs. on a plate), a potable water rinse is not required for these surfaces. However, food contact surfaces (like a hard, nonporous plastic lunch box or high chair tray) should be rinsed with potable water and allowed to air dry after using Clorox Disinfecting Wipes."

Clorox Free & Clear Product Line

Clorox Free & Clear is a product line featuring bottles of a spray cleaner and a mist, as well as a container of special wipes. These wipes are different from the "crisp lemon" and "fresh scent" varieties shown in Gilbert's video. For example, the?product page for Clorox Free & Clear Compostable Cleaning Wipes says they're "safe around kids, pets and food" and are "formulated without dyes, bleach or ammonia."

The wipes and spray cleaner?in the Clorox Free & Clear product line do not disinfect. However, the Clorox Free & Clear Disinfecting Mist does disinfect. The third photo on the official page for the product even features a child in a high chair next to a dog.

Cleaning High Chairs with Clorox Products

The Clorox website features step-by-step guides for cleaning various household items, including?high chairs, kitchen countertops, baby toys?and more. Some of these guides include two sets of instructions: one for cleaning with the liquid version of a large bottle of Clorox disinfecting bleach and another for Clorox Free & Clear products.

The guide for cleaning high chairs begins as follows:

It's easier than you might think to safely clean and sanitize high chair surfaces. While disinfecting bleach is always a great option, our?bleach-free Clorox Free & Clear product line is safe to use around kids, food and pets. And it kills 99.9 percent of bacteria and viruses when used as directed, making it a great disinfecting option for high chairs and other baby items.

This part was specifically talking about the Clorox Free & Clear mist, since, again, the spray cleaner and wipes in the same product line do not disinfect.

The key part of cleaning the high chair relevant to this article appeared to be the fact the Clorox website says no rinsing is required when using the standard Clorox disinfecting liquid or any of the three Clorox Free & Clear products. For the standard Clorox disinfecting liquid, which contains bleach, the guide for cleaning the high chair makes the claim,?"There is no rinsing step when sanitizing food-contact surfaces, including high chairs. Just let the tray and the chair air dry before use."

The Clorox spokesperson said of rinsing after sanitizing (not disinfecting), "Rinsing is not required when using bleach as a?sanitizing?solution on food contact surfaces, but you can add that step if desired."

The Clorox website features a page describing the difference between sanitizing and disinfecting. Another page?also lays out how the company advises customers clean cutting boards, with wipes not being mentioned as an option.

Further Videos from Clorox

Aside from the product labels and online guides, we also found videos on the official Clorox YouTube channel. One video shows a standard Clorox disinfecting wipe — not one in the Free & Clear product line — being used to clean a child's high chair.

Another video on the Clorox YouTube channel shows its standard disinfecting wipes being used for cleaning in various situations in the kitchen, including on countertops.?The fine print at the bottom of the video mentions, "Rinse required for food contact surfaces. Use as directed."

We advise readers to fully read through entire product labels and also online guides before using any of the products mentioned in this article, in order to ensure they are being used as directed.

Sources

"Bleach Sanitizes Baby High Chairs." YouTube, Clorox, 2 Apr. 2020, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5LHFJTnBkQQ.

"How to Clean a Baby Changing Table." Clorox?, https://www.clorox.com/learn/how-to-clean-a-baby-changing-table-clorox-wipes/.

"How to Clean and Sanitize a Cutting Board." Clorox?, https://www.clorox.com/learn/how-to-clean-cutting-board-with-bleach/.

"How to Clean and Sanitize a High Chair." Clorox?, https://www.clorox.com/learn/how-to-clean-high-chair/.

"How to Clean Countertops With or Without Bleach." Clorox?, https://www.clorox.com/learn/countertop-cleaner-how-to-clean-countertops-with-bleach/.

"How to Safely Clean and Disinfect Baby Items with Clorox." YouTube, Clorox, 3 July 2023, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TGf1aZgDVrg.

"Is It Safe to Clean Baby Toys With Disinfectant Wipes?" Clorox?, https://www.clorox.com/learn/is-it-safe-cleaning-baby-toys-with-disinfectant-wipes-sprays/.

"One Wipe for Kitchen Messes – Clorox Disinfecting Wipes." YouTube, Clorox, 4 Dec. 2023, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHqF0nj5pLs.

"The Difference Between Sanitizing and Disinfecting."?Clorox, https://www.clorox.com/learn/difference-between-cleaning-sanitizing-and-disinfecting/.

Jordan Liles is a Senior Reporter who has been with Snopes since 2016.