How to Naturally Disinfect Surfaces [Complete Guide]

By Marilee Nelson |

How to Naturally Disinfect Surfaces [Complete Guide]

If you’ve been following us for a while, you know we don’t recommend “sanitizer” or “disinfectant” cleaning products. 

We consider these words red flags on labels as they typically indicate the product contains an EPA-registered pesticide, which is designed to kill and has been shown to encourage the proliferation of superbugs.

Given this new information, the FDA now recommends against consumer use of sanitizers and disinfectants with harmful ingredients. This comes as a shock to many of us since we thought we were doing the right thing by sanitizing often.

Unfortunately, over-sanitizing with disinfectants designed to kill causes clever bacteria and germs to mutate into stronger, more dangerous germs

Plus, did you know that simply spraying and wiping a surface with a chemical disinfectant does not kill all germs?

Unbeknownst to most consumers, these products require “dwell time” of up to 10 minutes, and even then, they can leave behind resistant germs that further strengthen and mutate. Not what you want in a healthy home.

In this article, you’ll learn exactly how to remove germs safely and disinfect your home using only natural and non-toxic products.

Table of Contents: 

  • Why It’s Best to Remove Germs (vs. Killing Them)
  • How to Disinfect Home Surfaces Naturally
  • How to Disinfect Laundry Naturally
  • How to Disinfect Carpet Naturally
  • How to Disinfect Sinks, Showers, Bathtubs, and Toilets Naturally 

Why It's Best to Remove Germs (vs. Killing Them)

To take care of germs safely, it's best to REMOVE them! 

The CDC has done testing that shows conclusively that cleaning with a soap or surfactant based cleaner removes all germs without leaving behind resistant bacteria.

So, for everyday cleaning, a natural soap or cleaner like Branch Basics is all you need to remove (not kill) germs safely and effectively.

How to Disinfect Home Surfaces Naturally 

As you just learned, removing germs using a natural soap-based cleaner is ideal for everyday jobs.

However, in some cases—like if a member of the household is ill, you have a new baby, you’ve been working with raw meat, or you’re concerned about the spread of harmful germs or pathogens—a natural disinfectant is appropriate in addition to the soap-based cleaner.

So, first, use a natural soap-based cleaner, like Branch Basics, to remove the germs. 

Then, follow up with one or a combination of natural disinfectants to sanitize or disinfect.

Here’s how this works.

Branch Basics Method 

You can use Branch Basics All-Purpose or Bathroom on surfaces to safely remove germs before following up with a non-toxic disinfectant (which we’ll discuss next)

Materials Needed


  • Spray Branch Basics directly onto the surface
  • Allow 2-5 minutes “dwell time”
  • Wipe surface clean

As a mild soap-based cleaner, Branch Basics is generally safe to use on all types of stone, tile, wood, laminate, linoleum, or vinyl surfaces.

Hydrogen Peroxide + Vinegar 

When someone is ill in a household, cleaning with soap and water followed by a safer disinfectant, like hydrogen peroxide, on frequently touched surfaces is recommended. 

Hydrogen peroxide is very similar to water (H2o) in its composition, except it has an extra oxygen molecule (H2O2)

This extra oxygen molecule allows it to oxidize and kill germs, making it an excellent disinfectant for surfaces, sinks, tubs, and more.

A 2018 study even showed 3% hydrogen peroxide was more effective at killing germs and viruses than Quat-containing cleaners, like Lysol (Quats are a highly toxic chemical used in disinfectants; we’ll talk more about them coming up).

For tough jobs like disinfecting cutting boards, you can pack a punch by using a combination of distilled white vinegar and 3% hydrogen peroxide (stored in separate bottles) on the surface.

Materials Needed

  • Branch Basics All-Purpose or Bathroom cleaner
  • Split fiber Microfiber
  • Distilled White Vinegar (5% acidity) and/or Hydrogen Peroxide (3% solution–brown bottle)
  • Optional: A spray nozzle for the brown bottle of peroxide. Exposure to light breaks down hydrogen peroxide, so the brown bottle protects it.
  • Optional: A spray bottle for the vinegar (or a spray nozzle for the bottle if it will fit)


  1. Clean the surface or object to remove germs with Branch Basics or another non-toxic cleaner, preferably a microfiber towel.
  2. Spray a few sprays of vinegar or peroxide on the surface and let the one product dwell for 5-10 minutes. Do not use them simultaneously, as this could create harmful fumes.
  3. Wipe thoroughly.
  4. Then spray the other product on the same surface. Let dwell and wipe thoroughly.

Important note: Vinegar and hydrogen peroxide must never be combined by spraying simultaneously on surfaces or storing in the same bottle. This could create toxic fumes.

To avoid this, always use them separately (spray, wipe, then repeat with the other product) and store them in their own bottles.

For more specific cleaning and disinfecting tips, check out: Non-Toxic Kitchen Cleaning Tips with Branch Basics, How to Clean the Oven, and How to Clean Glass Stove Tops.

How to Disinfect Laundry Naturally 

Laundry doesn’t usually need disinfecting if washed using an effective natural soap or detergent on a hot water setting and then dried in the dryer or hot sun.

However, if clothing becomes contaminated due to illness or exposure to pathogens, rest assured you can take care of it using non-toxic laundry soap, hot water, disinfectants, and the natural heat of the dryer and/or sunshine.

Branch Basics Method

To remove germs and soil, use Branch Basics Laundry with Oxygen Boost.

Our Laundry dilution is gentle on fabrics but tough on dirt, stains, and soil. This is all you need for basic laundering.

However, when you need extra disinfecting, whitening, or stain-fighting power, turn to Oxygen Boost as a pre-soaking agent and/or laundry booster.

Oxygen Boost is made with two ingredients:

Learn more in: The Power of Sodium Percarbonate for Cleaning.

White Vinegar 

If you don’t have Oxygen Boost on hand, plain old distilled white vinegar has been shown effective against certain germs, including:

  • E. Coli
  • Salmonella
  • Listeria monocytogenes

Therefore, vinegar can be an excellent choice for disinfecting kitchen towels, aprons, cloths or anything exposed to common food-borne germs.

To use, add half a cup of vinegar to the final rinse for brighter, whiter, softer clothes.

You can also use distilled white vinegar instead of bleach to clean and detoxify your washing machine

To learn more, see: 12 Ways to Use Distilled Vinegar in your home.


Hydrogen peroxide is the leading ingredient in non-toxic bleach alternatives because it whitens and disinfects like bleach without harmful effects.

Plus, there’s no offensive smell.

To use on whites (not colors!), add 1 cup 3% hydrogen peroxide to your wash (in the bleach cup) along with your favorite non-toxic detergent.

You can also use 3% hydrogen peroxide directly on stains on white clothing. It’s great for using on reusable menstrual pads or getting blood out of anything white.

Learn more about why peroxide is an effective, non-toxic disinfectant, cleaner, and bleach alternative in: How To Use Hydrogen Peroxide for Non-Toxic Cleaning, Disinfecting, Laundry, & More.

How to Disinfect Carpet Naturally 

Between dirty shoes, pet stains, and food spills, carpets can quickly become a hotbed of germs and bacteria.

This is why it is so essential to clean your carpets regularly and disinfect as-needed. Here’s how to do it naturally.

Branch Basics Method 

Branch Basics All-Purpose or Concentrate can be used on carpets as a stain remover/germ remover, and carpet cleaning machines.

Always test Branch Basics in a hidden area first for colorfastness and compatibility. 

To remove carpet stains naturally:

  1. Spray All-Purpose directly on the spot and allow to sit for 1-5 minutes. 
  2. Agitate the area with a brush or rag until the stain disappears.

To use Branch Basics in a carpet cleaning machine:

  1. Replace the toxic carpet cleaning detergent with Branch Basics Concentrate in dilution of 1-2 teaspoons of Concentrate per gallon of water.
  2. Follow the the manufacturer’s operation instructions.

Water + Vinegar + Salt 

For treating and disinfecting stains, use a combination of water, vinegar, and salt. The vinegar with the salt act as a natural sanitizers.

Here’s how:

  1. First, blot up as much of the stain as possible using a microfiber cloth.
  2. Next, spray the spot with vinegar and gently remove as much of the stain as possible.
  3. Next, pour a good amount of salt onto the remaining stain and let it dwell for 15 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Vacuum up the salt, and the stain should be gone or significantly faded.
  5. Repeat as needed.
  6. If some stain remains, we recommend going over it with the carpet cleaner with Branch Basics.

Dry Steam Cleaning

Dry Steam is the ultimate disinfectant and can work wonders on carpets and surfaces.

Using a Ladybug Dry Steam Cleaner is an amazing way to disinfect and clean your carpet without harmful chemicals. The Ladybug qualifies as a disinfection device* for the EPA. It disinfects* (through proprietary TANCS® technology) thousands of times better than the standard that chemical disinfectants must meet to qualify as an EPA registered disinfectant. Unlike chemical disinfectants that require dwell times where surfaces must remain visibly wet for minutes in order to kill germs, the Ladybug kills a very broad range of bacteria and viruses like MRSA, C. diff, norovirus, C. parvo, and COVID-19 in seven seconds or less while leaving no residue behind that promotes new microbial growth. It is also proven by scientific studies to eradicate hard-to-kill biofilms in three seconds. Strong chemical disinfectants such as bleach are no match!

But there is a more important advantage. We have known for years that the overuse of chemical sanitizers and disinfectants has created a superbug issue where the germs become resistant both to the cleansers and to antibiotics. Mechanical disinfection with the Ladybug does not create superbugs as there is no chance for a germ to mutate to the point that it can resist the heat!

Note: Advap offers 20% off the Ladybug with this coupon code - BRANCHBASICS

See: Branch Basics Ultimate Guide to Non-Toxic Floor Cleaning for more tips.

Steam Cleaning


  • Rent a steam cleaner and use Branch Basics in it as outlined above.
  • Hire a carpet cleaning company that uses a truck mounted system and ask them to use steam-only (no chemicals).
  • Purchase a steam mop with carpet attachment so you can steam clean your carpets any time.
  • Purchase a steam cleaner to deep clean carpets regularly.

How to Disinfect Sinks, Showers, Bathtubs, and Toilets Naturally 

Sink, showers, and bathtubs can be disinfected naturally the same way as other surfaces. Here’s how.

Branch Basics Method 

Use Branch Basics Bathroom to remove germs from sinks, showers, tubs, and toilets before disinfecting with any of the following methods.

Materials Needed

Process for Sinks, Showers, or Tubs

  1. Spray Branch Basics directly onto the sink, tub, or shower.
    1. Sprinkle on Oxygen Boost if desired for a deep clean, cleaning grout, big jobs, etc.
  2. Allow 2-5 minutes “dwell time”.
  3. Scrub, then wipe clean.
    1. If using Oxygen Boost, rinsing will be required.

Process for Toilets

  1. Spray a few sprays of Branch Basics Bathroom in the toilet bowl, on the seat, and around the base.
  2. If your toilet is soiled or needs extra cleaning power, add a sprinkle of Oxygen Boost on top of the Bathroom spray.
  3. Scrub the toilet bowl and wipe down the seats and base with Branch Basics Bathroom dilution.

*Note: Since warm or hot water is required to activate Oxygen Boosts’ disinfecting properties, in this situation, it is used as a scouring and whitening agent vs. a disinfectant. If disinfecting is desired, move onto the next step.

Peroxide or Vinegar + Peroxide

To disinfect your sink, shower, tub, or toilet follow the same procedure as outlined in the section on disinfecting surfaces naturally, using vinegar and hydrogen peroxide. Reminder that these two products should be used separately and stored in separate bottles.

Note: You may also choose to just use peroxide (which, as previously noted, has been shown more effective at killing germs and viruses than Quat-containing cleaners, like Lysol) depending on the level of disinfecting needed.

For tips on tackling toilets without chemicals, see: 5 Best Natural Toilet Bowl Cleaners.

When to Use Disinfectant Spray vs. Soap & Water

Once you understand the harms of over-sanitizing, it can be challenging to decipher when non-toxic sanitizing or disinfecting may be appropriate.

Here are a few examples of when it is appropriate to use a safer natural disinfectant spray like hydrogen peroxide and/or vinegar:

  • Cutting boards or surfaces that have come into contact with raw meat, fish, or seafood.
  • Non-porous toys—especially those your baby may put in their mouth.
  • Cell phones.
  • Toilet seats—especially after someone has been sick.
  • Surfaces soiled by pets (or children!).
  • Baby’s feeding tray table.
  • Door knobs.
  • TV remotes and controllers—especially when a family member is sick.
  • Sinks that have come into contact with raw meat, fish, or seafood.
  • Computer keyboards—spray microfiber with vinegar and wipe, then wipe with hydrogen peroxide.

It is also appropriate to increase the use of natural disinfectant sprays during cold and flu season or if a family member has a contagious illness. 

Use common sense, avoid taking clean-to-the-extreme, use soap and water to remove germs as your first choice to avoid creating superbugs, and remember not all germs are bad! 

Plenty of research has shown that regular exposure to everyday bacteria and germs actually strengthens your gut microbiome and immune system, which will protect you from a variety of acute and chronic ailments.

Toss the Toxins With Branch Basics

Isn’t it incredible how a seemingly complex topic like how to disinfect your home naturally is actually so easy?

Just remember, remove germs as a general rule for everyday cleaning. If disinfecting is required, remove the germs using Branch Basics or another non-toxic soap-based cleaner, then follow up with one of the non-toxic disinfecting methods outlined here.

That’s all there is to it.

Interested in trying Branch Basics as part of your non-toxic cleaning routine? 

Click here to explore our Starter Kits, which include everything you need to replace every cleaner and laundry product in your home with just one all-natural Concentrate (yay!) + Oxygen Boost.

For more non-toxic cleaning and lifestyle tips, check out our blog, podcast, and Toss The Toxins Online Course.

Marilee Nelson

Marilee Nelson

Marilee Nelson is an Environmental Toxins expert who has spent nearly 30 years advocating for the chemically-sensitive and chronically-ill. She is a Board Certified Nutritionist, Certified Bau-Biologist and Bau-Biology Inspector and specializes in Food As Medicine. She has helped thousands of families and individuals identify, heal and recover from toxic exposures and is on a mission to revolutionize the way American families view their health.