Can you clean your dishes with "bleach" wipes?
July 5, 2018 6:25 AM   Subscribe

I was listening to a podcast where experienced overlanders share how they live on the road. One of the guests, when asked about how he cleans dishes, said that he uses lysol wipes to get everything clean, to conserve water. Is that a thing? Is it safe?
posted by aeighty to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
That sounds pretty weird. Looking at the Lysol product page for wipes, I don't see anything a sensible person would use on their dishes. Some of them would probably taint any food served on the dishes. A couple say they can be used to clean chopping boards etc.

I mean, the antibacterial ingredients won't kill you, and it's likely that most of the stuff in them will evaporate/degrade in sunlight/whatever, but assuming they contain one or more of the common bactericides (triclosan etc.), they're just adding one more chance of the natural selection of really bad bacteria that we can't protect against. If any of their wipes just contain simple bleach and water, then that would be less problematic. I can remember my mother occasionally putting a bit of bleach in the washing-up water, mostly to remove stains from mugs.
posted by pipeski at 6:50 AM on July 5, 2018 [3 favorites]

Multiple studies have shown that it's easy to improperly use them in such a way that you end up just moving germs around rather than killing them. Each wipe is only good for about one square meter of surface and the cleaned object has to stay wet until it naturally dries. It might take multiple applications to keep it wet enough to reach the recommended length of wet time.

They're definitely used by people in RVs and camping. Properly done, it's fairly fine, but not as good as a proper cleaning. They're sometimes the best option for traveling and having limited options for water but a poor idea for home use.
posted by Candleman at 6:59 AM on July 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

I have spent time living in a van, traveling, and I think it's gross. Spray bottle of water & dish soap, get it clean, squirt bottle of water to rinse.
posted by theora55 at 7:13 AM on July 5, 2018 [6 favorites]

There are many safe disposable wiping cloths made specifically for cleaning dishes on the go or in an office. Perhaps that's what they meant and used "Lysol wipes" as a sort of generic term? I wouldn't use actual Lysol wipes on a surface I was putting in my mouth.
posted by LKWorking at 7:22 AM on July 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

The active ingredient in Lysol wipes is usually benzalkonium chloride, which is in all sorts of things including topical disinfectants, mouthwash, and contact lens solution. They're not very effective on grease and the fragrances probably aren't great to consume, but I think it'd be fine for wiping up after a sandwich sort of cleaning combined with intermittent real dish washing. If he's having BBQ, there's probably actual dish soap and water involved.

If the dishes were never getting actually washed, I'd be more concerned because in order to actually disinfect anything, you're supposed to use the wipes to saturate the surface and keep it wet for FOUR MINUTES. I don't think that's physically possible to do without blanketing the entire surface in a layer of wipes.
posted by yeahlikethat at 7:50 AM on July 5, 2018 [2 favorites]

Lysol does make wipes that are made for food contact surfaces.
posted by ftm at 7:58 AM on July 5, 2018 [4 favorites]

In addition to the points that have already been made, I seriously doubt that it saves water, once you account for the amount of water required to manufacture wipes. Industrial processes tend to be super water-intensive.
posted by likedoomsday at 8:00 AM on July 5, 2018 [5 favorites]

In addition to the points that have already been made, I seriously doubt that it saves water, once you account for the amount of water required to manufacture wipes. Industrial processes tend to be super water-intensive.

I don't think it's about conserving water in an ecological sense, but because they are on the road and don't have access to a reliable, regular, or 'unlimited' source of water. They might be getting their water from a tank on an RV or otherwise be limited by space, weight, or accessibility.
posted by QuakerMel at 8:17 AM on July 5, 2018 [11 favorites]

Yes, this is a thing I do. The dogs get a first pass at the dishes, and then I follow up with wet wipe of some sort and then quick rinse. It's not super clean, but good enough for the sort term.

The problem is that 5 gallons of water weighs 40lbs, and with two adults and two dogs in the desert that might last one day. If you want to be camped remotely and do some hiking or sightseeing for 5 days, that's 200+ lbs of water. On a truck with a payload of ~1200 lbs including passengers (350), fuel (300), and gear .... You need to do what you can to conserve water.

This is also true while backpacking. Many soaps are not to be used outdoors and even so called "camp soaps" are ill-advised in some areas. Wet wipes allow you to pack it in and pack it out and really minimize your impact while still getting things clean enough.

And really - you'd use lysol or some other soap on your kitchen counter and then think nothing of fixing a sandwich on that same counter 2 hours later.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 8:39 AM on July 5, 2018 [7 favorites]

Hey I just went camping with Lysol cleaning wipes! I wanted to clean some meat-cutting things so I read the container carefully and it says that if used on food prep surfaces, the cleaning needs to be followed by a potable water rinse. So I did that.
posted by bq at 8:46 AM on July 5, 2018

I would suspect that a wipe like this would make an effective surface disinfectant. However, it will have a hard time cutting through the biofilm that will eventually build up on your dishes, especially anything that has been cooked in. That biofilm will host nasty stuff the wipe won't be able to kill. I think it's going to be ok in the short term but you will need to do a real clean with soap and scrub, regularly. And get something made for food surfaces, you don't want to eat nasty chemicals that don't evaporate.
posted by Foam Pants at 11:53 PM on July 5, 2018

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