The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted many people to think about ways to reduce their risk – or their company’s risk - of contracting this disease or spreading it to others. An earlier article on this blog shared that infected individuals expel virus particles when they sneeze, cough, or simply breathe normally. We become infected when we inhale these airborne virus particles.
We can also contract Covid-19 when we touch surfaces contaminated with the virus and then introduce them into our bodies by touching our eyes, nose, and mouth. Thorough cleaning and disinfection of surfaces - in conjunction with frequent hand washing - will reduce our risk of infection via this mode.
Cleaning and disinfection are 2 different things. Cleaning relies on the physical removal of dirt and viruses (and other disease-causing microorganisms) from surfaces. Soap helps loosen the virus particles and the water rinse ultimately removes them from the surface. These principles apply to hand washing as well. In both situations quality matters: thorough washing removes greater numbers of virus particles.
Cleaning reduces the number of germs on a surface but does not totally eliminate them. This is why disinfection, the chemical deactivation of virus particles, is so important. Chemical deactivation of the Covid-19 virus requires the following:
- Using a product on the EPA's "List N". They “meet EPA’s criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19”. Each product has a unique EPA registration number that is normally on the product label. You can find EPA’s List N here: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2
- Verifying that the product has not expired (some have a limited shelf life) and that you are using it per the manufacturer’s instructions. Dilute concentrated solutions when required to do so. These concentrates are often corrosive and can cause severe damage to the eyes and skin. Wear the recommended PPE when handling these products.
- Keeping the surface wet with disinfectant for the required “contact time.” These times vary and depend on the disinfectant in question. Contact times are in the last column in the above link. Times for common disinfection products are listed below:
|Product Name||EPA List N Registry #||Required Contact Time|
|Lysol Spray||777-99||10 min|
|Lysol Wipes||777-114||10 min|
|70% Rubbing Alcohol||1677-249||5 min|
|Chlorox Wipes||5813-79||4 min|
|2% Bleach||11346-6||1 min|
|Chlorox Clean Up Cleaner + Bleach||5813-21||1 min|
NOTE: we have found that it can be difficult to keep surfaces wet for the required contact times. Unfortunately, the disinfectant often evaporates before the contact time is achieved. Be mindful of this issue. In the case of disinfecting wipes, consider wiping a surface, then wiping that same surface a second time before the first application evaporates.
Don’t cut corners and give yourself a false sense of security when it comes to disinfection. Use EPA-approved products in a way that keeps them wet on the surface in question for the required contact time. Your health and your company’s well-being - and reputation - rely on it and other Covid-19 protective measures.
Cashins & Associates, Inc. can help you with your Covid-19 needs, including re-opening your business in accordance with state and local rules and guidelines. Click on the link below to submit an inquiry. We look forward to hearing from you!