Surface Disinfectants 101

“Killer at Large!”, “Are You at Risk?” Headlines and product advertising promote germ warfare. Antibacterial agents are everywhere including dish soap and hand cream. Are we any safer at home or in healthcare settings with all this attention on disinfection? Now more than ever dental care providers need reliable information about the selection and effective use of disinfectants for surfaces and equipment without all the hype.

Follow the CDC (Federal Centers for Disease Control) guidelines to select and use disinfectants:

• Use an EPA registered product with a label claim to kill tuberculosis. This germ is not transmitted on surfaces but is hard to kill and is used as a “benchmark” to identify antimicrobial power. This claim is especially important where blood and saliva spatter are likely to be present. Also, CDC guidelines tell us “If the disinfectant is labeled to kill TB it will also kill less resistant pathogens such as Hepatitis B and C within that same time period.” Some products labeled as “hospital disinfectants” are low level quaternaries lacking TB kill. They are not recommended for use when blood soils are present. ProSpray™ liquid ready to use disinfectant/cleaner and ProSpray™ wipes presaturated disinfectant wipes are both EPA registered, intermediate level disinfectants with lab testing confirming reliable TB kill.

• Cleaning matters. Many of the most dangerous organisms such as MRSA are carried in organic and blood soils. Cleaning alone removes a substantial number of organisms. Always use the two step process. Thoroughly clean surfaces first and discard wipes or paper towels. Reapply disinfectant using fresh wipes or paper towels for the recommended contact time. Not all disinfectants offer effective cleaning. Products high in alcohol will cause blood and other protein soil to stick tightly to surfaces, preventing removal. Selecting a product that can clean and disinfect is more economical and effective. ProSpray liquid ready to use disinfectant/cleaner and ProSpray wipes are a water based formula with surfactants to provide excellent cleaning and are free of alcohol actives.

• Compliance is essential. The fastest and most powerful disinfectant is useless if it is irritating and unpleasant to use, or produces damage to surfaces and equipment. Disinfectants with an acceptable odor, which are safer to use by healthcare workers, and have minimal effect on equipment and surfaces will lead to better compliance by staff. ProSpray liquid ready to use disinfectant/cleaner and ProSpray wipes are so safe they are now approved by the EPA for use with bare hands in the absence of biohazard soils. Their water based formula is effective, yet safe for repeated use on metals, vinyl upholstery and soft plastic tubing.

• Read labels and know the active agents in your disinfectant. Disinfectant choice is a trade-off: high alcohol and bleach products offer short contact time but are irritating or destructive to people and equipment. Water based products are better cleaners and kind to people and equipment but do require more contact time. ProSpray liquid ready to use disinfectant/cleaner and ProSpray wipes offer the best combination of reliable effective disinfectant action with the least long term effect on people and equipment.