The importance of "contact time" will surprise you
February 21, 2019

Are you using disinfectants the right way? Applying a product and wiping it off will kill the dangerous germs, right?

Actually, no. People often use disinfectant cleaners improperly, which can mean they're simply spreading the germs around instead of killing them. This can actually encourage dangerous bacterial growth such as E.Coli, Salmonella, Norovirus and more. Whether you're cleaning up after cutting raw chicken or caring for someone at home who's been sick, effective disinfecting means doing it the right way.

But what does "the right way" mean?

Kill time / Dwell time / Contact time is key

All disinfecting products need to stay wet on the surface for a certain amount of time to kill bacteria and viruses. This is called "kill time", "dwell time" and/or "contact time" on product labels. Kill time varies depending on the product, and often even between products made by the same company.

Remember, disinfectants only work while wet.

If a disinfectant dries quickly, you'll have to reapply it until the kill time is reached, according to EPA regulations (and, often, the product's label). Many of these products also contain alcohol, which can cause the liquid to dry quickly. This can make it difficult to keep the surface wet without re-wiping multiple times, so you're better off using a spray disinfectant cleaner.

Disinfecting wipes are popular for their convenience, but their label directions usually instruct you to leave the cleaning surface visibly wet for 4-10 minutes, in order to fully eliminate dangerous illness-causing bacteria.

How often do you stand and wait to ensure your wiped surfaces stay wet? If it dries before the kill time is met, then you haven't actually disinfected anything. Illness and disease-causing pathogens could still be there.

Don't take chances with your family's health.

As an alternative to wipes, a disinfectant spray cleaner may offer the better option. It can apply more liquid to the surface, and as a result is more likely to leave a surface wet for the required time than a wipe, without the need for reapplication. It also allows you to reach crack and crevice areas that wipes can't penetrate.

Learn about Simple Green disinfectant products here.