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more about disinfectants news insights
more about disinfectants news insights

More About Disinfectants

If we have learned one thing from the pandemic, it is the importance of disinfectants.

Disinfectants eliminate germs and bacteria on surfaces. However, this is only accomplished if they are used properly.

At Total Maintenance Services, we believe information is power, especially when it comes to preventing the spread of the coronavirus.  Here are two essential terms building owners and managers should know about disinfectants, starting with what they are and what they are not.

A disinfectant is a cleaning agent that kills all pathogens on a surface based on the product’s “kill claims.”  

A sanitizer is not a disinfectant. A sanitizer reduces the number of pathogens on a surface to levels considered safe. 

With this clarified, here are some more important things we need to know about the use of disinfectants:

Clean First

For a disinfectant to work effectively, the surface must be cleaned first. Cleaning removes soils.  Removing those soils allows the disinfectant to eliminate pathogens on surfaces more effectively.

Kill Claims

We mentioned kill claims above. Disinfectants eliminate specific types of germs, viruses, and bacteria on surfaces. These pathogens are listed on the product’s label.

Disinfectant Types

There are three types of disinfectants sold in the U.S: general/broad range, limited, and hospital grade.

A “general” or “broad range” disinfectant eliminates a wide variety of pathogens. This is the most common type of disinfectant used.

A “limited disinfectant” eliminates a specific type of pathogen/microorganism on a surface. For instance, if a food service outlet is trying to eliminate norovirus microorganisms, it will select a limited disinfectant that is primarily engineered to eliminate norovirus.

Medical facilities use hospital-grade disinfectants. These disinfectants eliminate nosocomial (healthcare-acquired) pathogens.

Kill or Eliminate?

Traditionally, we say that disinfectants “kill” pathogens on a surface. However, many disinfectants also prevent pathogens from reproducing. If they cannot reproduce, they cannot survive. Further, it is common to say that disinfectants are used to “eliminate” pathogens on a surface.


In response to the coronavirus, the EPA created a new term called the N-List. The N-List is a listing of disinfectants tested and proven to eliminate the pathogens that cause this disease.

Dwell Time

Disinfectants take time to work effectively. In most cases, they must “set” or dwell on a surface from three to ten minutes to eliminate pathogens on that surface. The product label will tell you the amount of time required.

Remain Wet

The disinfectant must remain wet while it is dwelling on a surface. If the disinfectant dries, then the surface must be cleaned and the disinfect reapplied.


Every proven effective disinfectant sold in the U.S. is EPA registered. Further, the product has demonstrated to effectively eliminate the pathogens listed on the product’s label.

We should note there are no “green” disinfectants in the U.S. The EPA categorizes disinfectants as pesticides. However, if used per manufacturer’s instructions, the EPA considers them safe to use and safe for building users.

Quat Binding

During the disinfecting process, the cloth absorbs the ingredients.  When this happens, the efficacy (effectiveness) of the disinfectant can diminish. To prevent this, the cleaning professional must have several cleaning cloths available when disinfecting surfaces. The cleaning professional should change cloths frequently.

One more thing we must know is that disinfectants can vary in several ways.  Because of the wide variation in formulas and applications, building owners and managers should be aware that these products must always be used per the manufacturer’s instructions.  This is essential for them to work most effectively.

Contact us to discuss your cleaning needs by calling 732-901-5337—or by clicking on our logo below. We will take care of it. 


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