Industrial Consumer

NOTE: All of the Oxivir products below are EPA registered for use against COVID-19. See CDC Guidance.
Disinfectants are widely misused and overused, but most common products can cause asthma. Cleaning with just plain soap, all purpose cleaners, and/or microfiber cloth can reduce 99% or more of bacteria from surfaces. Otherwise, try disinfectants below which have lactic acid, caprylic acid, citric acid, or hydrogen peroxide as active ingredients. Thymol is also a good choice for consumer use. Check our new safer cleaning during COVID-19 page. 



  • Disinfectants with hydrogen peroxide, citric, lactic or caprylic acid, or thymol

    In order for a disinfectant manufacturer to legally make claims that their product  kills germs, the product must be registered by the EPA. Always look for an EPA-registration number on the bottle.

    If product is a concentrate, make sure a dilution system is available.  

    When to Use

      Avoid long-term skin contact with disinfectants containing thymol. Use gloves when using any disinfectants. Thymol is generally recommended only for consumer use, since there are more viable alternatives for institutional users.

    City Approved Vendor(s)
    Other Vendor(s)
    Product/Service Type
    Consumer, Industrial



Info on this product category: Disinfectants

Why Go Green

Green disinfectants on this site: 

  • Can be just as effective at killing germs - see the US EPA label for details
  • Have safer ingredients. Most common disinfectants contain chemicals that cause asthma.
  • Reduce waste, by emphasizing recycled and/or recyclable packaging.
  • Are sold as concentrates whenever possible, which means that shipping weight is 1/64 – 1/256 that of ready to use products - dramatically reducing fuel requirements for shipping.
  • Use dilution systems to prevent exposure to concentrated products.


  1. Use disinfectants sparingly.
  2. Disinfectants are good for surfaces that are touched frequently, like doorknobs and keyboards.
  3. A surface is not disinfected if the disinfectant is wiped away too soon. Disinfectants must sit/dwell on a surface for the number of minutes listed on the bottle. 
  4. Confused about ingredients? If the ingredient has the words "ammonium chloride" somewhere in a long chemical name, it is probably a quaternary ammonium compound, or "quat." These are to be avoided.
  5. Looking for products certified by an ecolabel organization (such as Green Seal)?  You probably won't find any.  Federal regulations prohibit ecolabels on pesticides, and disinfectants are considered pesticides.

Criteria for Disinfectants

Criteria for Suggested products:

Products must be EPA registered as disinfectants or hard surface sanitizers, and contain only the following active ingredients: Hydrogen peroxide, citric acid, lactic acid, or caprylic acid.  Thymol is also acceptable for consumer use. Products must not contain quaternary ammonium compounds or alkylphenol ethoxylates. Concentrated products must be adapted for use in a closed-loop dilution system. 

Last updated

Last updated: 
March 12, 2014


In 2014, SF Environment and the Green Purchasing Institute completed an alternatives analysis to identify the safest disinfectants. The report examined:

  • Worker health hazards
  • Environmental impacts
  • Effectiveness for various disease organisms
  • Length of time needed to kill germs
  • Compatibility with surfaces

Conclusion: Use hydrogen peroxide, lactic acid, citric acid, or caprylic acid-based disinfectants when feasible. They show the highest potential for reducing risks to workers and the environment. Some worked very well in pilot tests at the San Francisco Unified School District. For concentrated products, a closed loop dilution system is preferred. Thymol is also an option for consumer use.

Guide for City Staff

City Custodians:

  1. Are required to buy these cleaners (if needed):
  2. Post the City department green cleaning checklist/poster.
  3. Post tips (for microfibers, disinfecting, dusting, polishing, floor care, kitchens, restrooms) and watch custodial green cleaning training videos in English, Cantonese, and Spanish made by SF Environment. 
  4. Disinfectants are only important for surfaces like doorknobs.
  5. Switch to microfiber mops and cloths, which can prevent injuries because there's no need for heavy mop buckets.
  6. Install closed-loop dilution systems (if possible) to prevent employee exposure to hazardous concentrates.

Non-custodial City Staff:

Recycling Instructions

It's illegal to put cleaners (and other chemicals, electronics, lighting, metal, paints) in the landfill. So do one of the following:

  • Use what you already have. 
  • Give them to someone who needs them.
  • Legally and safely dispose them. Post this recycling poster above each waste bin. Then get a pick up.

Guide for Small Businesses & Homes

  • Try microfiber mops and cloths, which can get rid of 99% of bacteria with plain water.
  • Make your own cleaners from common materials like baking soda, castille soap, or lemon juice.
  • See consumer products on GoodGuide.
  • Use disinfectants sparingly. The most important surfaces are doorknobs.
  • Choose ready-to-use, peroxide- or citric acid-based disinfectants.  Avoid disinfectants that list hypochlorites or quaternary ammonium compounds as ingredients (e.g., ammonium chloride).
  • Small businesses can save money by switching to industrial/institutional cleaners.  Ready-to-use products are 15 times more expensive than concentrates.
  • Custodial companies that are SF Green Businesses should watch custodial green cleaning training videos in English, Cantonese, and Spanish and consider posting Custodial Green Cleaning Tips (available in Spanish and Chinese) by SF Environment.
  • Legally and safely dispose of cleaners (and other chemicals, electronics, lighting, metal, paints) in the San Francisco Bay Area or rest of the U.S

Guide for Large Organizations