Keep Disinfecting To Be Safe

Keep Disinfecting To Be Safe

07 July 2021

We are all in disinfecting mode trying to keep our environments in a healthy situation.  Did you know if you do not use proper technique or wear the proper PPEs you could be spreading germs instead of removing them? 

According to the USDA: 

Disinfection involves the destruction of microorganisms, but not usually spores, on inanimate surfaces or objects. Disinfection is not sterilization. Sterilization describes a process that destroys or eliminates all forms of microbial life, including spores. Disinfection methods can involve the use of physical (e.g., heat or ultraviolet light) or chemical (e.g., disinfectants) processes to reduce, inactivate, or destroy pathogenic microorganisms.

Many factors can affect the effectiveness of the disinfection process. These include the microorganism being targeted, the organic and inorganic load present, the characteristics of the disinfectant (or disinfectant method) being used, as well as other factors such as temperature, pH, water hardness, relative humidity, and the physical nature of the object or surface being disinfected. For the use of physical disinfection methods, including heat, there are likely to be specific requirements and processes based on the situation and/or the disease agent involved.

A Typical Disinfection Process

1.Select a Disinfectant:

The first step is disinfectant selection. Determine and select a disinfectant registered by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for use against the microorganism(s) of interest and for the object or area that needs to be treated. Product labeling includes detailed information including the ingredients statement, warnings and precautionary statements, and directions for use. Disinfectants must be used according to their approved labels at the indicated dilution, labeled use, application method, contact time, and safety measures.

2.Disinfection Preparation:

Prepare fresh solutions of disinfectants daily, or as specified on the label. Some disinfectants can lose stability shortly after being prepared for use or when stored over long periods. Use of an outdated product may result in ineffective disinfection.

If a product is to be diluted, the label will provide specific mixing directions. Using the proper concentration is important to achieve the best results for each situation. Some products will have different dilutions depending on the intended use of the product (e.g., sanitizing, disinfecting, sterilizing). Disinfectants are tested and proven effective at the specified dilution provided on the label. The dilution listed on the label must be followed exactly unless a FIFRA Section 18 exemption allowing a different dilution (see Regulation of Disinfectants). Additionally, the use of disinfectants at higher concentrations than specified on the label may increase the hazard to personnel and to the environment. Conversely, over-dilution of a product may render the process ineffective to the target microorganism.

Personnel safety during disinfection preparation is essential. Gloves, eye protection and sometimes masks may be needed during this process. Consult the product label for any safety precautions; inform personnel of these safety measures.


Disinfectants must only be used for the item or area specified on the label. Additionally, the required application method and contact time will be provided. Application methods may involve spraying, fogging or misting, wiping, immersing, or mop-on methods. Appropriate safety measures (e.g., personal protective equipment) should be used during all disinfection processes; including the application process.

4.Contact Time:

One of the most important components of the disinfection procedures, regardless of the method chosen, is to allow adequate contact time. This is essential for the process to have the desired impact – destroying microorganisms. In some cases (e.g., when long contact times are required), the disinfectant may need to be reapplied in order to keep the surface “shiny” wet for the full required contact period.


Following the application (and appropriate contact time), items and areas should be thoroughly rinsed. Many chemical disinfectants can be harmful to animals and should be rinsed with potable water.


Whenever possible, surfaces should be allowed to dry completely (if possible overnight). The drying process can also further aid in reducing or eliminating microorganisms through desiccation. Premises that have been cleaned and disinfected should have a period of downtime following disinfection. This involves the area being free of any animals or activity for a period of time to allow it to not only dry completely, but since the application of disinfectant solutions uniformly over large areas (e.g., ceilings, walls, floors) can be very difficult, adequate downtime helps to further reduce or eliminate any remaining microorganisms through desiccation.

Regulation of Disinfectants

Chemical disinfectants in the United States are registered and regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) (40 CFR Parts 150-189). Under FIFRA, chemical disinfectants are considered “antimicrobial pesticides” or “substances or mixtures of substances intended to destroy or suppress the growth of harmful microbiological organisms, and pesticides that protect inanimate objects and surfaces from organisms such as bacteria, viruses, or fungi.”

Prior to product registration and marketing, manufacturers are required to submit product chemistry, efficacy, and toxicity data, along with proposed labeling, for EPA’s review. FIFRA requires that any pesticide be registered or exempted before it may be sold or distributed in the United States. All EPA-registered pesticides must have an EPA registration number.

FIFRA further requires that all label use directions and safety precautions must be followed. The use of a registered disinfectant in a manner inconsistent with its labeling may not only result in an ineffective application, but it may be a “misuse” of the product subject to potential enforcement action. Thus, a chemical disinfectant should be selected not only on the basis of its desirable characteristics, but also on whether it is registered or exempted under FIFRA and whether it can be used in accordance with its label safety precautions and use directions for its intended use(s). Individual States also have regulations that may be stricter than Federal regulations.


Most disinfection methods or disinfectant products have some level of hazard. Most can cause irritation to the eyes, skin, and/or the respiratory tract. Some may cause allergic reactions, such as allergic dermatitis; others may cause burns or other injury. Physical hazards are also possible while conducting C&D procedures. These may include slips, trips or falls from slippery surfaces; heat exposure or burns from hot water, or skin punctures from high pressure sprayers.

The safety of all personnel is paramount when handling, mixing, and applying chemical disinfectants. Training of personnel on the proper mixing, application procedures, and hazards is essential. Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as gloves, masks, or goggles, should be worn during the mixing or application of disinfectants. All chemical disinfectants have a Safety Data Sheets listing the stability, hazards, and personal protection needed for the product, as well as first aid information; all of this safety data is also included on the product label.

Many chemical products may be toxic to animals or environment. Efforts to avoid exposure of animals or runoff into the environment should be taken.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Hazard Communication standard (29 CFR 1910.1200) is designed to ensure that information about hazards and associated protective measures is communicated to workers. Training must be provided if the hazardous chemicals are used. This training must be provided before personnel begin using the product.

ABC Sales & Services cares about you and your Healthy Environment.

Call us today and let us help you disinfect your home or business.

340-774-1073 or visit us online

Make 2021 Your Year Of Disinfecting!!

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