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Video by BCPP Director of Science Sharima Rasanayagam, Ph.D.

In this time of uncertainty, and as BCPP’s Director of Science, I wanted to find a way for us to virtually connect. What better way than a video from my bedroom talking safer cleaning products! At BCPP, we’re always asking questions and using science to answer them. We’ve gathered up the most asked questions from our social media community around COVID-19 cleaning, and I’m here to answer those directly for you.

I hope you take a few minutes to learn something new, share with a friend, and help support BCPP’s work to prevent breast cancer. Thank you and stay well!

Check out my video Clean Safer & Toxic Free with BCPP video: 

Video Transcript

Cleaning Safer and Toxic Free during COVID-19 with BCPP’s Director of Science Sharima Rasanayagam 

[00:00:01] My name is Sharima Rasanayagam. I’m the Director of Science at Breast Cancer Prevention Partners and we thought we’d get online today to talk with you a little bit about safe cleaning products. So first of all, I want to say that we hope that you and your family are all safe and well during this worrying time. We at BCPP are all working from home and observing social isolation. We’re juggling, looking after our families, homeschooling our kids and keeping in touch with loved ones virtually while still trying to make time for our mental as well as physical health.

[00:00:34] And I know all of you are doing the same.

[00:00:36] So while we’re all working from home, we at BCPP are still working to protect all of us from exposures linked to breast cancer and other health outcomes. And so, one of the things we’ve been asked a lot about is safer cleaning during this time. So we thought we’d do this quick video and answer some questions. And then if we don’t cover things that you have questions about, please quote, put them in the comments below and we’ll try and answer them.

[00:01:05] So first question, what can we do to protect our health today?

[00:01:11] So in this time of COVID-19, it’s really important to follow the CDC and your local health departments advice on staying safe. So, we all need to be washing our hands as often as we can. And well, with soap and water, we all need to observe the social distancing rules that our community has when we’re outside our home. And we also need especially to protect vulnerable people, including the elderly and especially those with compromised immune systems.

[00:01:42] And that includes people going through treatment for cancer and after their treatment.

[00:01:50] Another important question we get asked a lot is, is anti-bacterial soap better than normal? So for regular hand-washing? Well, actually washing hands with regular soap and water has been found to be at least as effective, if not more so than using some of the antibacterial soaps. And there are fewer antibacterial hand soaps on the market these days. But those that are there sometimes contain triclosan and triclocarbon. And these are chemicals with hormone disrupting effects. So it’s best just to use regular soap and sing your favorite 20 seconds on while you clean your hands.

[00:02:29] So one of the reasons there are fewer antibacterial hand soaps on the market is the work that BCPP and our partners have done to hold companies and the government to account for allowing cancer causing and hormone disrupting chemicals in our products. And so, it’s been a really great success that we’ve been able to get rid of some of these chemicals from our environment and our products. So please consider donating at BPP to org if you’re able to, to help us continue our work to protect everyone. So, another question we get is what cleaning products should I use right now?

[00:03:06] So, similar to handwashing, simple cleaning products can be used around the home. A good hard scrub with soap or an all-purpose cleaner can remove many germs and keep the use of disinfectants to where they are really needed. So try to use cleaners that lists all of their ingredients on the label, including fragrance ingredients.

[00:03:28] So you can check the chemicals with health concerns and to find out what those chemicals are. You can check our red list of chemicals to avoid, which is on our web site Or you can use smartphone apps like Think Dirty and Healthy Living to scan product bar codes. Or you can look for the EPA safe choice label on products which identifies products have been found to be safer, the human health and the environment.

[00:03:56] What about disinfecting? So there are some areas in your house that should be disinfected, especially when you or your loved ones are vulnerable to the disease so frequently touch surfaces should be disinfected. If somebody in the house is ill or suspected of being ill and then surfaces touched by unwashed hands after returning from elsewhere, so doorknobs, things like that that you might touch before you wash your hands. And for this disinfecting, you should try and use safer disinfectant.

[00:04:29] So active ingredients which are listed below in the comments such as citric acid, hydrogen peroxide, l-lactic acid and ethanol or alcohol, all have been found by the EPA to be safer for health and the environment. And you should try and use products that have those active ingredients. You should use microfiber cloths to clean. But if that’s not possible, you can use just normal towels and sponges. But make sure you clean those between each surface with your disinfecting.

Now, I know some people only have access to bleach-based disinfectants right now and bleach is a pretty toxic chemical. But if you only have that available, make sure you use gloves. Make sure you have eye protection and that you ventilate the area well as you clean and full of dilution guidelines on the product. And also especially with bleach, but with any disinfectant. Try not to mix it or don’t mix different chemicals with different active ingredients because sometimes they can be reactions between these chemicals that cause health effects.

And so thank you for your time. I hope this has been helpful. Please feel free to post any questions in the comments below. And if you’re able consider a donation to BCPP at our website or through the link below to help us keep going. Protecting our health and environment from exposures linked to breast cancer. So again, thank you and stay well and take care of yourselves.


Find out:

  • What can I do every day to protect my health?
  • What can I do to stay safe during COVID?
  • How can we protect the vulnerable?
  • Is antibacterial soap better than regular soap?
  • What cleaning products should I use?
  • What about disinfectants?

Science is the backbone of all our work at BCPP

We review new evidence linking chemical and other exposures to breast cancer, test ingredients in consumer products, publish reports, create exclusive science expert videos, and share all of our knowledge with you! Help us continue this vital work.

See the CDC’s website for updates on COVID-19

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