In general, the way that people are using cleaners and sanitizers in their home to prevent COVID-19 is wrong. Disinfectants and hand sanitizers are being wiped from grocery store shelves to the point of shortage. Understanding best practices for keeping yourself and your loved ones safe from the virus is important. However, there hasn’t been enough time to obtain data on the effectiveness of cleaning products against COVID-19. Most experts agree that cleaning products that are effective against viruses should be just as effective against coronavirus. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list of disinfectants presumed to be effective in combating COVID-19. Each one of these disinfectants have been shown to kill viruses that are more difficult to eliminate than than COVID-19.
The key to using these products effectively is to follow the directions on their package. Unfortunately, most of us fail to read the fine print. Take note of the contact or wet time on the label. The wet/contact time is the duration that the disinfectant needs to stay wet on a surface in order to be truly effective. Contact times can range anywhere from 15 seconds to 10 minutes! This means that if the disinfectant dries before the contact time is reached, more product needs to be reapplied in order to stay wet until the contact time has lapsed. If directions are not followed, the disinfectant can be rendered ineffective and the virus can continue living on surfaces.
Even as a tenured healthcare professional, this disinfectant contact time was unknown to me and most people. Most people are under the impression that simply spraying a disinfectant on a household surface was an effective way to get rid of germs, but viruses can continue to thrive regardless of continual cleaning if that contact/wet time is not met.
Contact/Wet Time for Cleaning Products
- Cleaning wipes: between 2-5 minutes
- Cleaning sprays: between 3-10 minutes
Highest Germ Areas in the Home
- Bathroom Sinks
- Kitchen Counters
- Bathroom Faucets
- Common Door Knobs
- Kitchen Drawers
Cleaning with Clorox Wipes
The package claims to kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria. The directions say to clean a given surface with a fresh wipe and let the surface dry. It also says to sanitize the surface must remain visibly wet for 10 seconds. Anything less and it can not ensure proper sanitization.
Cleaning with Pine-Sol
This disinfectant claims to be the #1 dilutable cleaner. It instructs to apply full strength disinfectant with a clean sponge or cloth to the non-porous surface and let stand for 10 minutes before rinsing.
Cleaning with 409
To disinfect, spray until thoroughly wet, let stand for 10 minutes, then wipe. Any surfaces that come in contact with food must be rinsed with potable water.
As you can see, the wet/contact times vary depending on the product you use. Be sure to use EPA approved cleaning agents and read the instructions to make sure you are using them effectively. The label should also include the EPA registration number so you can confirm the product is effective against COVID-19. It’s not always the most expensive products that do the best job at disinfecting.
Another warning to please use caution when using these products. There has been a 20% increase in calls to poison control centers related to cleaning products. Read the label to avoid harm due to skin contact and inhalation injuries from these products.
I hope that this information has helped you learn the difference between cleaning and disinfecting.
Alamo ENT is available to you for in-person and telemedicine appointments. You may request an appointment online at alamoent.com or by calling (210) 545-0404