ICS Magazine

Do You Know Your Disinfectants?

May 20, 2009

Peterborough, ON, Canada – May 10. 2009 - As a result of the swine flu epidemic, many cleaning professionals and facility managers have recently begun using more disinfectants to help protect the health of building occupants.

However, questions are being asked about disinfectants, including how these products work, if they work, what to look for in a disinfectant, and, probably most frequently asked, what the product labels really mean.

Mark Warner, former Director of Disinfection and Decontamination Certification for Airx Laboratories and now Product Manager for Disinfectants and Sanitizers for Enviro-Solutions, a leading manufacturer of environmentally preferable and related cleaning products, explains some of the items likely posted on a disinfectant’s label and what they mean:
  • Disinfectant efficacy: This claim must be approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA); It lists the pathogens, kill times, and PPM (parts per million) of chemical solution needed to kill specific organisms like Influenza A, HIV, MRSA, etc.
  • PPM: PPM is critical to disinfection efficacy. Disinfectants are considered to be effective if the PPM is above 300-350. Some disinfectants yield almost twice that number, ensuring their effectiveness.
  • Contact time required: This is often referred to as dwell/wet time. Contact (allowing the surface to remain wet) time may vary with different disinfectants so cleaning professionals are advised to carefully follow the label instructions.
  • Cleaning efficacy: An effective disinfectant cleaner will remove most soils from surfaces. On disinfectants, this cleaning effectiveness is rated. A 1:64 disinfectant cleaner, for instance, is more effective at cleaning than a 1:25.
  • Cost in use: How much the disinfectant costs to use is determined by dividing the dilution rate into cost per gallon for the disinfectant. Cleaning professionals should work with their distributors to select disinfectants that are effective, match their required protocols, but keep costs to a minimum.
As swine flu continues to make headlines, cleaning professionals must use due diligence in keeping their customer’s facilities….out of the news.

Choose disinfectants wisely, share reliable information with clients and employees, and continue to ask questions and seek answers.