12 Things You Need to Know About Disinfectants

There has been a great deal of misinformation when it comes to disinfectants, but if you review the following 12 points summarized very well by Frank Hoard, Director of Facility Supply Channel—Independent Suppliers Group, you should have no confusion on the truth about the material and what you need to know in order to get the best results.

  1. USAGE & CONSUMPTION  - Under NO CIRCUMSTANCES should any disinfectant be injected into or ingested by humans. Disinfectants are ONLY made to be used on hard surfaces.READ THE LABEL – All disinfectants have labels and instructions for use, and it is the personal responsibility of anyone using any chemical to properly read the label prior to use.
  2. SAFETY DATA SHEET (SDS) – It should be good practice for end users to read Safety Data Sheets which will give them additional information about how to use the product and what to do in case there is an accident.
  3. DIRECTIONS – after reading a disinfectant’s label, it is important to follow those instructions closely for the product to work correctly. The label and the SDS information will always be the definitive word on a particular product, and will override what someone is told or reads from other sources about that particular product or about general disinfecting.
  4. HAZARDS – Disinfectants should always be used while wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Hand, breathing, and eye protection should always be worn while using a disinfectant.
  5. MULTIPLE CHEMICALS SHOULD NEVER BE MIXED TOGETHER. Mixing disinfectants with a chemical to make it more pleasing to the sense of smell will only deactivate the killing agencies of the disinfectant.
  6. BLEACH is an extremely volatile disinfecting chemical. Few people read the product label on how to properly dilute bleach. Additionally, bleach continually gets weaker as time passes.
  7. EXPIRATION DATES - All disinfectants have an expiration date. Most Disinfectants have a two-year shelf life.
  8. CLEANING IS ESSENTIAL – Before disinfecting any hard surface, it must be clear of any visual debris.
  9. WET & DWELL TIME – Not all disinfectants are equal. Disinfectants vary in their efficacy when applied to surfaces. Wet and dwell times refer to when the product sits on a surface wet or a when it “dwells” on a surface to kill particular germs, bacteria, & viruses. The time that it takes to kill a particular microorganism will vary among disinfectants. In fact, the “Kill Time” of any single disinfectant can vary, depending on the type of microorganism you’re looking to target.
  10. MOLD – Disinfectants are not designed to kill mold. Only those products with mold-killing claims are to be considered during to perform that task.
  11. PROPERLY LABEL – If you are using a diluted disinfectant or pouring the mixture into a secondary vessel (i.e. spray bottle), you must properly label that secondary vessel. The manufacturer of a disinfectant should be able to provide physical or electronic forms of secondary labels for end users to apply to secondary vessels. Additionally, OSHA will recognize an attached SDS to a secondary label as proper labeling, because it has all the information that OSHA requires on a product’s label. An end user can trifold & apply the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) to a secondary vessel with clear tape. Permanent marker is NOT an acceptable way of labeling a secondary vessel for any chemical. For more info on that refer to https://www.osha.gov/Publications/OSHA3636.pdf
  12. EPA REGULATES DISINFECTANTS – Because disinfectants kill microorganism, they are rated as pesticides, thus the jurisdiction, rules, and control of disinfectants falls under the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA has stringent rules for how disinfectants should be presented, and it has set up a specific page for products that are effective against SARS-CoV-2, better known as COVID-19, or the Novel Coronavirus. https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2