Understanding the Importance of a Disinfectant Label

Choosing the right disinfectant to use and applying it properly is a critical step in the cleaning process. Important information regarding dwell times and kill claims can be found on the products label. These label instructions will provide your staff with explicit information on how to properly use the product. But what is a kill claim and dwell time? Helping your staff understand these important key terms will go a long way in assisting them to do their jobs well and ensure proper application of a disinfectant.

Understanding Dwell Times

dwell-time-1A dwell time is the contact time the disinfectant is required to remain on the affected surface to effectively kill bacteria and germs. Each disinfectant will have a manufacturer’s suggested dwell time; these times may vary and must be followed closely for the product to perform effectively.

According to CleanLink,  cleaning professionals are less likely to follow the instructed dwell time, especially if they are pressed for time. So, although the stress of janitorial work can be overwhelming, following the requirements of the disinfectant is a crucial part of the cleaning process. If the disinfectant isn’t left on the surface for the suggested contact time, the bacteria on the affected surface is less likely to be killed, leaving customers and employees susceptible to infections and illnesses.

Additionally, disinfectants should only be used when needed. Occupational Health and Safety explain they’re discovering that many pathogens are now becoming immune to some disinfectants, as a result of overuse and improper use.  To ensure the safety of your cleaning team, your patrons, the environment, and the efficacy of the product, be sure that your team is using these products only when needed and as recommended.

Understanding Kill Claims

Kill claims are a list of microscopic organisms (bacterias, viruses and fungi) that each
disinfectant is effective at eliminating. These bacterialists are provided on the label of every disinfectant on the market.  Additionally, every true disinfectant has an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration number or a Drug Identification Number (DIN).  This number indicates that a disinfectant has been proven effective, with a minimal risk to the user.

Every disinfectant is different and the labels are there to indicate which microscopic organism they can kill. For example, disinfectants can kill TB (tuberculosis) bacterium, H1N1 Influenza A virus, MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), and other pathogens. However, the disinfectant that kills MRSA may not work against the TB bacterium. Although this may not always be the case, it demonstrates the importance of selecting the disinfectant that is effective against the particular pathogen you want to kill.

Improperly used disinfectants are ineffective, so it’s important to ensure your staff understand the label instructions before applying the product to any affected surface.  This will ensure that the job is completed in a safe and effective manner.

For detailed information about our recommended disinfectants, check out our High Performance Program.  Our Swish Product Specialists are available to help you decide which products will work best for your needs. Please contact them at 1-855-GOSWISH (467-9474) in Canada or 1-800-639-7226 in the US, or use your online account at www.swishclean.com. Products may vary depending on location.

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Understanding the Differences Between Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting

Petri dish with bacteria coloniesIn today’s society, there are an immense number of microorganisms, bacteria and viruses in a person’s immediate surroundings. And, it’s not unusual to think that performing daily cleaning routines will limit the number of bacteria within the workplace. However, this may not always be the case.

Sometimes, it’s as simple as using the wrong mixture of products or misunderstanding the different cleaning methods and applications.

So why is any of this important? Knowing the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting methods is essential to properly kill the microorganisms, bacteria, viruses, and fungi lingering on surfaces within a workplace.

Cleaning Methods

  1. Cleaning: Cleaning is the removal of dirt, germs and allergens from surfaces. By cleaning affected surfaces with a combination of soap (or detergent) and water, you will remove visible debris, dirt, and dust, but you will not kill germs.
  2. Sanitizing: Sanitizing on the other hand, will help reduce the number of microorganisms present on a surface. It is better than cleaning alone but it will do nothing about viruses and fungus.
  3. Disinfecting: Above all, disinfectants are used to kill microscopic organisms on surfaces. Each type of disinfectant will kill different types of microorganisms, and these kill claims are listed on the label.

Cleaning Applications

It’s important to remember that each cleaning method serves its purpose and you are not required to disinfect every surface, every time you clean it. Disinfecting surfaces that do not require it will contribute to the resistance of microorganisms. The following examples will help demonstrate when each cleaning method is most effective:

  1. Cleaning: Cleaning is most effective when you are removing visible imperfections from surfaces that have a lower risk of pathogen transfer. Examples of a low-risk surfaces would be your floors, or windows. According to an article from CleanLink, cleaning is favorable to your health because it removes the allergens and microorganisms from the surfaces in your indoor environment.
  2. Sanitizing: Sanitizing is meant to reduce the occurrences of microorganisms. According to CleanLink, sanitizers should be applied to food contact surfaces. This method is better to use when in combination with cleaning as it helps reduce the amount of growths that can occur on your surfaces.
  3. Disinfecting: Disinfecting is more suited for killing the microscopic organisms on frequently touch surfaces such as desks, phones and doorknobs. Be sure to read the content on disinfectant labels, as it will have a list of kill claims and dwell time.  A kill claim is a list of microscopic organisms that each disinfectant is capable of “killing,” and dwell time is amount of time the disinfectant needs to sit on a surface before being wiped off.  Each disinfectant is different so be sure to understand the label before you use it. Stay tuned for an upcoming blog with more information on kill claims and dwell times.

Designing a routine that effectively works together, such as cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting will drastically reduce the number of microorganisms, viruses, and fungi present on surfaces. This in turn, will lower the amount of illnesses your staff or customers come in contact with, creating a healthier, cleaner environment for everyone.

For more information on how to build an effective cleaning program, contact our Swish Cleaning and Chemical experts today at 1-855-GOSWISH (467-9474) in Canada or 1-800-639-7226 in the US, or visit www.swishclean.com.  Products may vary depending on location.


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Hand Hygiene Tips for Back to School

Hand Hygiene KCSchool season is quickly approaching, and as children return to the classroom, parents and teachers can’t help but worry about the surfaces they are constantly interacting with.  According to an infographic from Kimberly-Clark Professional, surfaces that teachers and students touch have 10 times more bacteria per square inch than in any other profession. With so many people coming together in the school setting, it’s easy to see how classrooms can become ‘hot spots’ for germs and bacteria.  Continue reading

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Top Tips for Sun Safety


For most people, summer is considered their favourite season of the year. For others, such as those who work outdoors all day, the summer can be a cause for discomfort. Why? – You might ask. Well, most outdoor workers are exposed to the elements of the sun for a significant amount of time each day.  As Deb Group explains, ultraviolet (UV) rays are invisible rays that come from the sun and when they reach the earth’s surface they are strong enough to damage the skin. Thus, leaving outdoor workers at risk most. Continue reading

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How to Pick an Effective Bio-Enzymatic Cleaner

ES200_FULLYou may be asking, ‘What is a Bio-Enzymatic Cleaner?’ If so, you’re not the first. Let’s take a closer look at what these products are and how they perform. BIO Cleaners are formulated specifically to dispose of soils safely, economically and rapidly. They contain the necessary quality and quantity of specific non-pathogenic enzyme systems, both aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, and microbial nutrients. BIO Cleaners work quickly and efficiently to digest chemical and organic waste with no odor or noxious gas. Continue reading

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Reduce Your Floor Cleaning Cost by Thousands

Karcher Outside SweeperDid you know that it costs $600-$700 to remove 1 pound of dirt once it’s entered your facility? That’s a substantial amount of money and it might surprise you how quickly it can add up. As ISSA explains, 24 pounds of dirt can be tracked into a facility by only 1,000 people coming through an entrance in a 20-day work month. That quickly adds up to more than $14,400 to remove! Now, imagine if there was a way to reduce the amount of dirt entering your facility… Continue reading

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Improving Air Quality for Health and Wellness

Business People in HallwaysAir quality is important to everyone’s health and wellness. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ranks indoor air pollution among the top 5 environmental risks to public health.  Causes include residual odours, bacteria or viruses, allergens and volatile organic compounds, especially in the hot, humid, summer months. Each of these factors can impact the air quality that your company’s patrons and employees breathe. Continue reading

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