- Windex Original Glass Cleaner is not a disinfectant and it will not kill germs.
- But there are some Windex products that do kill germs, like Windex Disinfectant Multi-Surface Cleaner.
- To keep glass germ-free, use a disinfectant first and then wipe it down with Windex Original Glass Cleaner.
- This article was medically reviewed by Tania Elliott, MD, who specializes in infectious diseases related to allergies and immunology for internal medicine at NYU Langone Health.
- This story is part of Insider’s guide on How to Kill Germs.
In the 2002 hit movie “My Big Fat Greek Wedding,” the humble household cleaning product, Windex, was heralded for its ability to fix just about any bodily ailment. Acne, bug bites, cuts – you name it.
Sadly, Windex Original Glass Cleaner doesn’t actually kill germs on glass, skin, or anywhere else. But here’s some advice on when to use Windex and how else you can disinfect glass surfaces.
Does glass cleaner kill germs?
Germs are pesky. Some can live on household surfaces a lot longer than you might realize. For example, the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on glass for several days.
Glass cleaners like Windex “do not have the same chemical makeup of a disinfecting product” according to Mariea Snell, DNP, APRN, assistant director of the Online Doctor of Nursing Practice program at Maryville University. So you can’t pick up any bottle of glass cleaner and expect to knock out germs.
If you just want to erase fingerprints on your French doors, you can stick with the Original Windex. But if your aim is to polish and disinfect, then you will need to read labels carefully.
Charles Bailey, MD, medical director for infection prevention at St. Joseph Hospital in Orange County, California, suggests consulting the Environmental Protection Agency’s list of products that are registered as a disinfectant.
Basically, you’ll want to choose products that contain disinfecting ingredients like:
- L-Lactic acid
- Quaternary ammonium
- Sodium hypochlorite
Windex Original Glass Cleaner does not contain these ingredients, but Windex disinfectant cleaner does contain L-Lactic acid. So just make sure you are careful about which one you choose when disinfecting glass surfaces.
How to sanitize glass surfaces
If you’re set on using a Windex product, you might opt for one like Windex Disinfectant Multi-Surface Cleaner, which contains ingredients designed to kill bacteria on surfaces like countertops, stovetops, tile, vinyl, and yes, glass.
But Windex Disinfectant Multi Surface Cleaner, as well as most other disinfectants, aren’t made to keep your glass free of streaks. Here’s how to get your glass surfaces germ-free and smudge-free, according to Snell.
- Wipe off any obvious dirt first
- Spray the area with the disinfecting solution and let it sit for ten minutes
- Wipe the disinfectant from the surface with a clean cloth or paper towel.
- Use Windex at the end to keep your glass streak-free
And remember: Don’t imitate the father in “My Big Fat Greek Wedding.” Don’t spray Windex or any cleaning product on yourself, especially not on an open sore or wound. As the EPA’s website notes, “These products are for use on surfaces, not humans.”