Contact time matters!

By Sani Marc | 2021-12-14

Time to make contact with germs!

A proper cleaning, sanitation and disinfection protocol requires a variety of products and it’s important to know how to use them correctly. Whether you’re cleaning, sanitizing or disinfecting, contact time is essential to getting the most out of the product you choose. Learn about the different products and formulations and how to use contact time to maximize their effectiveness.  

What’s the difference between a cleaner, a sanitizer, and a disinfectant? 

  • Cleaners physically remove soil, inorganic and organic material but do not eliminate germs. 
  • Sanitizers reduce the bacteria on surfaces to a safe level, but they do not kill all harmful micro-organisms. 
  • disinfectant kills pathogens or renders them inactive but may not be effective on hard to kill micro-organisms, so be sure to read the label. 

There are also dual-purpose products. These are labelled cleaner-disinfectants, or sanitizer-disinfectants. Whether you choose a single or dual-purpose product, the contact time indicated on the label must be respected for the product to be effective.  

What is contact time and why does it matter? 

Contact time is simply the amount of time a product has to remain wet on a surface in order to do its job. Respecting the contact time is essential for ensuring the maximum efficacy of the product. Not respecting the contact time could result in germs not being killed, which could lead to people getting sick. 

How does the type of product affect contact time? 

Especially when using something like a sanitizer-disinfectant, the sanitizer could be effective with just one minute of contact time, while the disinfectant could require up to 10 minutes to combat bacteria and viruses, so it’s important to match the contact time to the organisms you are trying to kill.  

Does the type of pathogen affect contact time? 

Yes, it does. Different pathogens can require different contact times. For example, a disinfectant can kill bacteria like E. coli in as little as 1 minute while C. difficile spores require 5 minutes of contact time.   

What is the best way to ensure adequate contact time? 

The first step in providing adequate contact time is to read the product label. It may mention contact time or use the term “dwell time”. This is because, in addition to keeping an eye on the clock, the surface you’re disinfecting must stay visibly wet with the product for the entire recommended contact time. If the surface you are disinfecting dries before the wet time is up, you will need to reapply the product to ensure you get the maximum effectiveness. 

Need advice on selecting products for your cleaning, sanitation and disinfection protocol? Talk to a Sani Marc expert! 

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