Keeping surfaces clean is always important -- but now, during a pandemic, it is more important than ever. Amidst all the chaos, many companies have come out with “new disinfectants” with effectiveness claims that are misleading to the general public. In order to avoid falling victim to inaccurate claims, make sure to always ask for the copy of the product label and read it over carefully before purchasing or using.

Claims about duration of effectiveness continue to be the biggest and most common problem that is surfacing with all of these new products. Many of them claim that their hard surface disinfectants can be used and reused for days and even months on end without reapplication. Additionally, these companies suggest that their products will continue to protect against Covid-19 for that amount of time -- this is completely untrue.

In light of all of these issues, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has recently released new guidelines for these products, classifying them into the following categories:

  • “Residual Disinfectant”

In order for a product to fall into this category, it must demonstrate effectiveness against bacteria and viruses in under ten minutes using standard testing protocol. Then, using an abrasion test to simulate wear under regular use, the product must demonstrate continuous effectiveness for 24 hours.

  • “Supplemental Antimicrobial”

This type of product is a coating that is applied to a surface and tested using residual sanitizing test protocol. It must yield a reduction of bacteria growth over a period of days. However, this type of product is not a final disinfectant -- it is meant to accompany one. Therefore, it will not have any disinfection claims and cannot be used as a disinfectant, as it does not meet the EPA standard for disinfection.

In addition to these, there are many other products that do not meet either of these EPA protocols. That is why it is incredibly important to read the label of any product before purchasing or using it. If, for example, a label says that a hard surface disinfectant is only approved for “reducing odor-causing bacteria, the product is NOT a disinfectant and has no approval to suggest that it is effective against any virus, including Covid-19.

In order to protect yourself and others, it is crucial to stay vigilant regarding disinfectant for your park areas, facility amenities, or any other hard surfaces. Make sure to read all labels, don’t fall for the hype, and stay safe!