National WIC Association

Protecting Pregnant Women and Children From Disinfectant Chemical Exposure

June 25, 2021

The pandemic has created confusion over how and when to use chemical disinfectants in the home, leading to frequent misuse and overuse. Many disinfecting products carry health risks, especially for pregnant women and children.


To protect expectant mothers and their families, the Association of State Public Health Nutritionists (ASPHN) has developed an educational campaign on the safer use of disinfectants. Titled Clean Away COVID, the campaign offers guidance on simple cleaning practices, as well as when, how and which disinfectants to use if someone at home is sick with an infectious disease.


Expectant mothers should avoid using disinfectants altogether, and disinfectants should never be used near or on food items or food preparation areas. If it is necessary to disinfect other high-touch surfaces because family members are sick, pregnant women should only use hydrogen peroxide-based disinfectants. Several additional precautions should also be taken. These include ensuring children and pets are safely in another room, properly ventilating the room by opening a window or turning on an exhaust fan and using protective gloves and a mask. Additionally, disinfectants only kill germs if they remain glistening wet on a surface for a specified period before being wiped off. This period is called the “contact time” and each product has a different one, so labels must be carefully read.


All this information and much more is contained in Clean Away COVID. Available in both English and Spanish, the materials are tailored for WIC participants. State, tribal and local WIC agencies can easily make the full resource available by linking to the


The messages in Clean Away COVID were created with guidance from the Western States Pediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit (PEHSU), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR).


NWA has partnered with ASPHN to support and promote the campaign among the WIC community. As an active participant on the campaign’s advisory team, NWA is proud to share the campaign’s promotional materials with membership as a means to educate and train WIC participants on safe disinfectant use.