Disinfection Check: Know Your Dwell Times

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If you were to line five disinfecting products next to each other, could you list their dwell times for proper disinfection? As you hunker down at home, you likely have a process in place for disinfecting hard surfaces and “hot spots” such as door knobs, countertops, and electronics. But before you spray or wipe, it’s important to read the label for recommended dwell times. Here’s what you need to know.
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Explaining Dwell Time

Typically listed in minutes, dwell times are how long the chemical needs to sit wet on a hard surface to properly disinfect. This varies between sprays, wipes, and aerosols.

Choosing a Product

When purchasing a product, check if the EPA registration number is included on the Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 list. According to the EPA website, “When purchasing a product, check if its EPA registration number is included on this list. If it is, you have a match and the product can be used against SARS-CoV-2. You can find this number on the product label – just look for the EPA Reg. No. These products may be marketed and sold under different brand names, but if they have the same EPA registration number, they are the same product.”

If you choose to have your house or business cleaned by a local service, make sure to ask if they are using chemicals on the EPA list.

Difference Between Sanitization vs Disinfection

Sanitizing lessens and even kills germs on surfaces to make them safe for contact. Disinfecting requires a stronger solution to go beyond reducing the germs and bacteria, with the goal of destroying them.

Each level of cleaning requires different hard surface dwell times. For example, directions on an aerosol can of Lysol are as follows:

  • To Sanitize: Surfaces must remain wet for 10 seconds and then allow to air dry.
  • To Disinfect: Surfaces must remain wet for 3 minutes then allow to air dry. For Norovirus, surfaces must remain wet for 10 minutes then allow to air dry.

While protecting you and your loved ones against COVID-19, keep disinfecting simple. Read the label, remember the disinfecting dwell time and ensure you’ve sprayed or wiped enough chemical on the hard surface to reach the minimum requirements.

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