These agents kill bacteria on hard surfaces and hands. But they don’t always kill viruses, and there are a few reasons for this.
1. Contact time
Disinfectants have to stay on surfaces for several minutes to completely kill viruses. This is called contact time or dwell time. If the surface doesn’t stay wet with disinfectant for long enough, the wipes can’t do their job. Plus, it’s important to clean surfaces with a cleaning solution before disinfecting.
Antibacterial hand wipes however usually only need a quick swipe or two. The antibacterial solution is strong enough to reduce bacteria to a safe level. And it doesn’t have to sit on hands or skin for minutes at a time.
But, antibacterial wipes designed for hard surfaces may have to sit for about 30 seconds. Before wiping surfaces with antibacterial wipes, clean them first with soap and water. Or use some kind of cleaning solution. Read the antibacterial wipe pack for instructions on how to use them properly.
Antibacterial wipes use different ingredients compared to disinfecting wipes. Antibacterial wipes usually have to be safe enough to use on the skin. So naturally, they’ll have less harsh ingredients.
Disinfectants have to kill all viruses, bacteria, and fungi. So they’re going to have way more ingredients — and they’re going to be harsher. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers disinfectants as pesticides. This is why there are strict regulations around what’s a sanitizer and what’s a disinfectant. And it’s why disinfecting wipes aren’t for:
- Food processing plants, or food prep
- Hand wipes
- Baby wipes
Wear gloves when using disinfecting wipes, or wash hands immediately after use. This protects the skin from chemicals found in heavy duty wipes. Such wipes are with hospital grade disinfectant or other harsh ingredients.
Learn more about the difference between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting in our newest article.