Cleaning and Disinfecting
Over the past year there has been a heightened standard for professional cleaning and disinfecting across every industry. A surface that “looks” clean is no longer enough to prevent the risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 as well as other germ causing pathogens found in public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools, and homes.
Proper cleaning and disinfecting are an important part of reducing our risk of exposure to COVID-19 and the variety of other pathogens we encounter daily.
Professional Disinfecting FAQ
How long is the contact time?
The label on the disinfectant will advise the contact time (“remain wet”) which will be determined by the pathogen being destroyed.
What are the different levels of disinfectants?
The EPA registers three different types of disinfectants: Limited, General and Hospital.
All three disinfectants destroy or irreversibly inactivate certain microorganisms on hard, inanimate surfaces and objects. You can determine a “limited, general” or “hospital disinfectant by the organisms listed on the label.
- Limited must be supported by efficacy testing against either Salmonella cholerasuis or Staphylococcus aureus. Limited disinfectants are found mostly in household use products.
- General or Broad Spectrum must be supported by efficacy testing against both Salmonella cholerasuis and Staphylococcus aureus. General disinfectants are used in commercial areas.
- Hospital must be supported by AOAC Use Dilution or AOAC Germicidal Spray efficacy testing against Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella cholerasuis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Pseudomonas aeruginosa hides behind biofilm and is difficult to eliminate. Killing this bacterium is required for “Hospital Disinfectant”.
What are the three methods of decontamination?
Three basic methods of decontamination are physical removal, chemical deactivation, and biological deactivation of the agent.
What does Dfe Mean?
The Design for the Environment (DfE) label helps consumers and purchasers find antimicrobial products, like disinfectants and sanitizers, that have been reviewed by EPA and found to meet both the pesticide registration requirements and the standard for DfE-certified products. These products contain ingredients that have been reviewed for both human health and environmental fate. Learn more about the DfE label for antimicrobial pesticide products, including information on how to obtain this certification for your products.
If you see the DfE logo on an EPA-authorized antimicrobial pesticide label, you can be assured that the product:
- is in the least-hazardous classes (i.e., III and IV) of EPA’s acute toxicity category hierarchy;
- is unlikely to have carcinogenic or endocrine disruptor properties;
- is unlikely to cause developmental, reproductive, mutagenic, or neurotoxicity issues;
- EPA has reviewed and accepted mixtures, including inert ingredients;
- does not require the use of Agency-mandated personal protective equipment;
- has no unresolved or unreasonable adverse effects reported;
- has no unresolved efficacy failures (associated with the Antimicrobial Testing Program or otherwise);
- has no unresolved compliance or enforcement actions associated with it; and
- has the identical formulation as the one identified in the DfE application approved by EPA.
EPA does not consider the logo to be an endorsement. Similar to saying a pesticide is “EPA registered” because EPA has found it meets the registration standard, the DfE logo indicates that the product has been reviewed and meets the Safer Choice Standard.
How do you answer a client’s question of “what is product’s the kill time”?
Someone that is asking this question is looking for a quick answer to a complex question. The correct answer is “IT DEPENDS” It depends on the contaminate you are trying to eliminate whether biological of chemical.
With regards to pathogenic organisms, the EPA requires a registered disinfectant to be effective within 10 minutes. That is the maximum time allowed. For every claim a manufacturer wants to make that is less than the 10-minute maximum, they must have an independent EPA certified lab perform test with their disinfectants on different the different organisms at different time frames, a process that can be very costly. That is why a majority of disinfectant manufacturers only state efficacy when the contact time is 10 minutes.
What is a Hospital Disinfectant?
As part of the EPA registration process, disinfectant products are put through rigorous testing to prove their efficacy and measure toxicity. The EPA registers three types of disinfectants: Limited, General and Hospital. All three disinfectants destroy or irreversibly inactivate certain microorganisms on hard, inanimate surfaces and objects. You can determine a “limited,”
Limited must be supported by efficacy testing against either Salmonella cholerasuis or Staphylococcus aureus. Limited disinfectants are found mostly in household use.
General must be supported by efficacy testing against both salmonella cholerasuis and Staphylococcus aureus. General disinfectants are used in commercial areas.
Hospital must be supported by AOAC use Dilution or AOAC Germicidal Spray efficacy testing against Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella cholerasuis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. The bacteria Pseudomonas aeruginosa hides behind biofilm and is difficult to eliminate. Killing this bacterium is required for “Hospital Disinfectant”.
Can I clean and disinfect at the same time?
In some cases, you can clean and disinfect at the same time, but this depends on how dirty the surfaces you are cleaning/disinfecting are—the dirtier the surface the less effective the disinfectant. Disinfectants need to contact the area to disinfect and cannot do this effectively with a barrier of dirt or grime in the way. Once the dirt has been wiped away the disinfectant can get to work. Under lightly soiled conditions, you can clean and disinfect in the same step with just Vital Oxide. (NOTE: EPA requires all disinfectants carry the following label direction: “For heavily soiled areas, a pre-cleaning step is required.”)
Why should I care about hard water tolerance? Are end-use disinfectant and sanitizer formulations hard water tolerant?
Water hardness ions are calcium (Ca +2) and Magnesium (Mg +2). These are cations and as such can diminish quaternary efficacy by competing with the positively charged quat for attachment to the negative sites on the microorganism’s cell surface. This is commonly referred to as the “competing ion effect.”
The current maximum hard water tolerance claim for hospital disinfectants (dilutable concentrates) is 400 ppm (as CaCo3). Food contact sanitizers (dilutable concentrates) must list a hard water tolerance limit on their label. Typical sanitizer water hardness tolerance can be between 500-1000 ppm. The state of Wisconsin requires a minimum of 500 ppm hard water tolerance for food contact surface sanitizers.
Why should I care about contact time?
The shorter the contact time, the shorter the time needed to perform the disinfectant process. The maximum contact time for a disinfectant is 10 minutes. Some disinfectants offer a shorter contact time. This allows for labor savings. The required contact time for food-contact surface sanitizers is 1 minute. For non-food contact sanitizers, contact time is less than or equal to 5 minutes.
What is ‘broad spectrum “efficacy”’?
The EPA’s definition of a “broad spectrum” disinfectant is one that has public health claims for all three of the major classes of organisms.
•Bacteria – effective against gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria
•Fungi – effective against at least one pathogenic fungi (usually Trichophyton mentagrophytes)
•Viruses – effective against pathogenic viruses (at least one enveloped virus such as Influenza A and one non-enveloped virus such as Adenovirus).
Sanitizers are not considered broad spectrum by EPA’s definition since they are only meant to
What is the difference between ‘disinfectants’ and ‘sanitizers’? What is a ‘sterilant’? Does XXXXX carry all of these products?
A sanitizer reduces bacteria on environmental surfaces to a level that is considered safe by public health organizations. A food contact surface sanitizer reduces bacterial contamination by 99.999%. A non-food contact surface sanitizer reduces bacterial contamination by 99.9%.
A disinfectant kills all bacteria on environmental surfaces.
A sterilant kills all bacteria and spores on environmental surfaces. Quaternaries are not sterilants since they are not effective against spores.
What is the difference between ‘limited disinfectant,’ ‘general disinfectant,’ and ‘hospital disinfectant’?
You can determine a “limited,” “general,” or “hospital” disinfectant by the microorganisms listed on the label.
Limited – must be supported by efficacy testing against either Salmonella cholerasuis or Staphylococcus aureus
General – must be supported by efficacy testing against both Salmonella cholerasuis and Staphylococcus aureus
Hospital – must be supported by AOAC Use Dilution or AOAC Germicidal Spray efficacy testing against Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella cholerasuis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa
•A “Limited” disinfectant must have the statement “Limited Disinfectant” displayed on the front panel of the label.
•A “Hospital” disinfectant will usually state that the product is a “Hospital Disinfectant” or “Meets the requirements for a Hospital Disinfectant.” These statements are not required for a hospital disinfectant.
What does ‘one step disinfectant’ mean? Are XXXXX end-use disinfectant formulations ‘one step’?
To clean and disinfectant in one operation.
NOTE: EPA requires that all disinfectants carry the following label direction: “For heavily soiled areas, a pre-cleaning step is required.”
What is a ‘neutral disinfectant’? Should I be using a ‘neutral disinfectant’? Are all ‘neutral disinfectants’ the same?
The term neutral refers to the pH of the disinfectant. A neutral disinfectant could have a pH as low as a 6 and as high as 8.5. Whether or not a customer should be using a neutral disinfectant is dependent on end use application. Neutral disinfectants are less likely to dull high gloss floor finishes with repeated use. Typically, medical care facilities prefer neutral disinfectant cleaners. Not all neutral disinfectants are the same. The use dilution, active ingredient(s) and/or surfactant (cleaning agents) could be different.
What is a ‘third sink’ sanitizer?
Sanitization processes in public eating establishments and small food processing areas require three steps. The first step is the detergent wash, the second step is a potable water rinse and the third step is immersion in the sanitizing solution. This process is usually performed in a three compartmental sink. In order to sanitize cleaned and rinsed food contact equipment (i.e. a glass, plate, small grinder, utensils), it must remain in the sanitizing solution for 1 minute and allowed to air dry.
What is the difference between a ‘food contact sanitizer’ and a ‘non-food contact sanitizer?
A food contact sanitizer – At a minimum, reduces the level of Staphylococcus aureus and Escherichia coli by 99.999% on a food contact surface within one minute. All ingredients must be cleared under 40 CFR 180.940 (tolerance exemption for actives and inerts for use in antimicrobial formulations [food contact surface sanitizing solutions]). A potable water rinse is not allowed after sanitization of a food contact surface.
a) For public eating establishments and dairy processing, 200 ppm b) For food processing establishments, 400 ppm
What is the difference between a ‘public health’ claim and a ‘non-public health’ claim?
A public health claim is control of a microorganism which is pathogenic to humans (e.g. S. typhi). Identifying a human pathogenic organism constitutes a public health claim. Staphylococcus aureus is an example of a pathogenic organism.
A non-public health claim is the control of a non-human pathogen. For example, an animal pathogen such as canine parvovirus, an aesthetic claim such as swimming pool algaecide, control against bacteria that causes spoilage, deterioration or fouling of materials such as paint or industrial fluids.
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