Should You Be Disinfecting Your Groceries?

It's best to be cautious.

What was once a weekly or bi-weekly chore of going to the grocery store and checking off items on your shopping list has become akin to entering a war zone, donning a mask, disposable gloves, and standing six-feet apart from fellow shoppers. When you can’t find something online and have to brave the store, what’s the best thing to do to protect yourself and those you love from this invisible enemy? As COVID-19 spreads across the world, so do questions revolving around this novel respiratory disease. Here’s how much the coronavirus is costing the world (so far).

Is it safe to shop in a grocery store?

The days of walking freely into a grocery store with not a care in the world have long since passed. Instead, cashiers and grocery store employees are lauded as heroes, on the front lines of defense. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends staying home and avoiding crowds to avoid potential increased transmission. Other experts agree and side with ordering food online. “I’ve heard there are wait times, but if you can use that option it would definitely be better than going out,” Dr. Joshua Petrie, an assistant research professor of epidemiology at the University of Michigan’s School of Public Health, tells TIME. Sanitizing your shopping cart, avoid touching your face, and bringing disposable gloves at checkout are just a few ways you can avoid germs while grocery shopping, according to experts and Consumer Reports.

If you’re older or have an underlying health condition, it might be best to avoid the grocery store altogether. “For older people and those with underlying health conditions—the group that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends staying home—I would highly recommend using a grocery delivery service,” Jim Rogers, the director of food safety and research testing at Consumer Reports, says. Here are 5 ways to save more when buying in bulk.

How safe are your groceries?

Sometimes, ordering online may not cut it and you have to brave the grocery store. There’s no evidence that shows the transmission of the novel coronavirus on food or food packaging, according to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). “[W]e do not believe there is a need to conduct environmental testing in food settings for the virus that causes COVID-19 for the purpose of food safety,” the FDA continues on its website. Instead, the FDA recommends “cleaning and sanitizing the surfaces is a better use of resources than testing to see if the virus is present.” These are the 4 household products that kill coronavirus, according to Consumer Reports.

How do you clean your groceries?

There’s no harm in being a bit more cautious, right? You can use disinfectant wipes on glass or cans, clean all the surfaces you have touched, and always wash your hands. Washing your hands is so important, in fact, that you can prevent 15 diseases just by washing your hands.


  • TIME: “How Can You Safely Grocery Shop in the Time of Coronavirus? Here’s What Experts Suggest”
  • FDA: “Food Safety and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)”
  • CDC: “How to Protect Yourself and Others”
  • Jim Rogers, the director of food safety and research testing at Consumer Reports

Madeline Wahl
Madeline Wahl is a Digital Associate Editor/Writer at Previously, she worked for HuffPost and Golf Channel. Her writing has appeared on HuffPost, Red Magazine, McSweeney's, Pink Pangea, The Mighty, and Yahoo Lifestyle, among others. More of her work can be found on her website: