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How to Choose the Best Disinfectant Wipe for the Best Results - Contact Time & Surface Coverage

When it comes to choosing a disinfectant, not all disinfectants are created equal. There are many different factors to consider to help improve the effectiveness of the product. It all depends on what your unique needs are and your infection prevention goals.

The key areas we will focus on for helping to choose the best disinfectant for your cleaning and disinfection program are:

  • Contact time

  • Surface Coverage & Wetability (ability to stay wet on a surface)

  • Safety

  • Cleaning efficacy

  • Compatibility

  • Environmental Impact

  • Ease of Use

Today we are going to be focusing on the 2 most important as it relates to disinfection compliance - making sure your disinfectant does what it needs to do - kill germs.

What is contact time?

Contact time (or dwell time as it is sometimes referred to) is the time it takes for the disinfectant to work - or kill what it says it is going to kill.

When you read the label (which most of us don't when we use products - especially cleaners) the label will tell you that you need a certain amount of wet contact time (the time a surface MUST remain wet with the disinfectant in order to kill what it needs to kill).

Let's say your disinfectant wipe has a 5 or 10 minute contact time (which many do) the disinfectant will likely need to reapplied 2-3 times (sometimes more) in order to achieve the time it states on the label.


Most disinfectants dry within 2-3 minutes, and if they contain alcohol they will dry even faster (we have seen wipes that contain alcohol dry in as little as 30 seconds).

Understanding contact time will help you create the best protocols for how to use the disinfectant products you purchase. If wipes have a 5 minute contact time, protocols should reflect the need to wipe the surface twice (allowing the solution to sit for 2-3 minutes after the first application and then reapplying to get another 2-3 minutes of contact time).

We have worked with many facilities and customers to help build custom protocols to ensure that the product being used is effective and following the label requirements.

Remember - it has to be wet to disinfect!

No contact time = No disinfection.

This video highlights how dry times vary from wipe to wipe.

There are also other factors that can impact contact time when using a wipe. Surface coverage and wetability have a direct impact on how long your disinfectant wipe will remain wet on a surface.

What is surface coverage?

The surface coverage of a wipe is the amount of an area you can effectively disinfect with a single wipe. The smaller the wipe, the less surface area you will be able to clean and disinfect with it. Think of a small wipe that is about the size of your hand - that wipe will likely saturate and wipe a surface of about 2' x 2'. Where as a large wipe that is 2-3x larger will be effective on a surface that is 2-3x bigger.

The important thing to look for when using wipes is the wetness of the surface when wiping. When you first start wiping a surface, the surface will be visibly wet and will gradually decrease in wetness as you wipe more surfaces. When you start to notice that the surface is no longer adequately wet it is time to get a new wipe.

One factor that contributes to surface coverage is how a solution is released from the wipe.

A disinfectant wipe holds a certain amount of disinfectant solution that is released on a surface.

Why is this important?

Some wipes will release all the solution immediately when you start wiping - this means most of the wet contact will only be in the first few swipes of the wipe.

Some wipes have a metered release which means that they release a more consistent amount of solution on the surface as it is used, whereas others release most of the solution when you first apply it to the surface.

With metered release you are able to release solution more evenly across a larger amount of surface with a consistent amount of solution. This helps to achieve even coverage and contact time from where you first started verses where you end.

So how do we improve our disinfection efficacy as it relates to surface coverage?

First, pay attention. If you start to notice the wipe is not adequately wetting the surface anymore - it's time for a new wipe. If you fail to change the wipe, only the wet area will likely achieve contact time - which means only the wet area will be disinfected.

Second, speak with your supplier and ask questions - does the wipe you are using have a metered release? Does the wipe contain wetting agents that help it stay wet longer? How much coverage is one wipe likely to have? What is the contact time?

Have questions? We can help. Reach out to our amazing team and we can help you assess your current program and products.


Why we chose Accel Intervention and Accel Prevention Disinfectant Wipes.

We pride ourselves on providing high quality and effective products to all our customers and partners - from healthcare to small businesses.

Working in hospitals and with our trusted healthcare partners we KNOW firsthand how an ineffective product can put people at risk. That is why all our products are carefully selected and we work with the manufactures to ensure that they not only are the best performing products, but they provide proof that the products do what they say they are going to do.

We also strive to support Canadian partners as much as possible. For us, the disinfectant manufacturer we choose was a no brainer - Virox Technologies Inc. Virox is a Canadian company (Oakville, Ontario) that developed, manufactures, and supports Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide disinfectants. They are sold globally and Accel Disinfectants were used in the fight against SARS back in 2002 by Canadian hospitals across the country.

Accel Intervention wipes have a 1 minute contact time and Accel Prevention Wipes have a 3 minutes contact time and both have been approved as hard-surface disinfectants on the Government of Canada's List of disinfectants with evidence for use against COVID-19.

"While most disinfectants will work against coronavirus, the following list of hard-surface disinfectants are supported by evidence following drug review, demonstrating that they are likely to be effective and may be used against SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19." - Government of Canada website

Want more information on our Accel disinfectants? Visit our website or contact us to order.

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