How to Choose the Right Disinfectant

Many people think that disinfectant solutions are all the same, but there are various formula makeups that are effective on different pathogens. Some solutions are more effective against viruses, such as cold or flu, while some are effective against bacteria typically found around food preparation areas. It’s extremely important to be sure what you need and review the large and small print on the label, as well as available safety data sheets.


Have you wondered what the phrase "kills 99.9% of germs" actually means? It's on many disinfectants and is a bit misleading. There is typically an asterisk next to this claim to refer you to look deeper into the germs the product actually kills. This claim does not mean the product kills 99.9% of all germs in existence. It actually means it kills 99.9% of the germs the solution lists in the kill claims area of the label if used properly, so it's important to not assume any disinfectant will work for your application need.


What to Consider When Choosing a Disinfectant

To make an informed decision on which disinfectant is right for your needs, make sure to fully read its label and review the following factors. (You should also be sure that a disinfectant is actually what you need. Read our article about the difference between cleaners, sanitizers, and disinfectants to learn more.)


Kill Claims – What germs are you wanting to eliminate? Make sure you’re choosing a disinfectant that kills the pathogens that are of concern at your facility. If you’re trying to reduce the spread of cold and flu, go with a product that contains a range of claims against viruses. A health care facility may need a variety of solutions to combat the different pathogens patients could be exposed to, while a veterinarian will want to choose products that have specific claims against animal viruses, such as canine parvovirus.


Kill Times – Kill time is the specific length of time a disinfectant needs to stay wet on a surface to completely kill bacteria and viruses. They often range from 30 seconds to 10 minutes or more. Kill times are an extremely important aspect to compare during disinfectant research since they vary from product to product.


Related: Disinfectant Use and Claims Guide for Our Most Popular Disinfectants


Safety – Will personal protection equipment be required during use? Those using the disinfectant need to follow the safety data of the product and be aware of the toxicity and flammability ratings.


Application Area - Consider which types of surfaces you’ll be using the product on as well since this could lessen the effectiveness of a product. Also, some disinfectants are not recommended for use on types of surfaces and could cause damage.


Ease of Use – How many steps are needed to prepare the product for use? Disinfectants come in various forms such as concentrated, ready to use, aerosol and wipes, all with different kill claims. Some liquid disinfectants clean and disinfect in one step, while others may require multiple steps. Ultimately you’ll want to consider the convenience you require and your budget.


Making the Right Choice

No single disinfectant solution will work for every application. Make sure you’re fully reading product labels to not only choose the right product, but also assure it’s applied properly. We’re here to help guide you and make the best recommendation for your needs.



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