How to use disinfectants effectively in 6 steps

Surface disinfection is – with good hand hygiene – one of the cornerstones of infection prevention. Keeping a surface clean and free from pathogens helps to break the chain of infection. But as with any cleaning process, it is important to plan and have all of the necessary tools, equipment, and chemicals required before starting. 

Here are 6 specific recommendations for use of disinfectants.

1. Only use Certified products

Each country has a strict process to test, approve and register disinfectants. Using a disinfectant approved by the Government ensure the product meets specific criteria for effective performance in its designated settings and applications. For Cyprus, in order for a product to be sold in the Cyprus market it has to be accompanied with the Biocide permit from the Ministry of Agriculture which shows that the product is biocide, and can kill various microorganisms. This, however, does not mean that the product is effective against all types of infections, such as bacteria, viruses and fungi. To check against what infections a product is effective, it is necessary to have further lab tests. For example, disinfectants that meet the requirements of the European EN 14476 standard are effective against enveloped viruses like SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

2. Consider One-Step Cleaner Disinfectants

With traditional two-step disinfection, staff must always clean the surface before they can use a disinfectant. Modern formulations now allow surfaces to be cleaned and disinfected in a single pass. These combined cleaner disinfectants are known as One-Step Products. They are tested in the presence of organic soil to ensure that they will perform as expected. However, this is valid in surfaces with light-to-moderate soiling surface. Surfaces with heavy soiling must still be pre-cleaned before using any disinfectant.

3. Follow Label Directions

All disinfectants must be used in line with the manufacturer’s guidelines and the directions on their labelling. These directions include approved application methods, the correct contact time, and correct dilution of concentrated products. Failing to follow these instructions is against the law in many countries.

4. Dilute Correctly

All concentrate products must be diluted correctly in order to achieve effective disinfection. Using the wrong dilution can make the disinfectant ineffective and increase health and safety risks associated with using it. The correct dilution, must always be indicated on the product data sheet.

5. Ensure Correct Contact Time

To ensure the action of the product against infections, it is important to specify how long the product must remain wet on the surface (known as the contact time) to ensure that disinfection is effective. If the surface dries sooner than the contact time there is no guarantee that the product has killed the pathogens claimed on the label. The method of application of the product on the surface (with simple or electrostatic sprayer, with microfiber or paper, etc.) is very important on this point.

6. Follow Health and Safety Considerations

The product label and SDS (safety data sheet) always include relevant health and safety information on how to use the disinfectant. Staff should always read the label and the SDS before using the product and follow all the instructions. If any PPE (Personal protective Equipment) is required, this will be explained on the SDS and possibly the product label. When PPE is required, staff must use the appropriate items to comply with regulations and avoid the risk of personal injury.

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