As a cleaning professional, creating cleaner, healthier environments in your facilities is a top priority. Public spaces can serve as endless breeding grounds for potentially harmful pathogens like MRSA and E. coli. This means cleaning professionals must stay informed and use the most effective methods, materials, and equipment to capture and contain these unwanted and dangerous microbes. In this blog, we will discuss the importance of dwell times (a.k.a. contact times or kill times), and how they are essential to prevent the spread of disease-causing pathogens.
What are Dwell Times?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines dwell time as, “the amount of time that a sanitizer or disinfectant must be in contact with the surface, and remain wet, in order to achieve the product’s advertised kill rate.” Different disinfectants target a wide array of different pathogens. The surfaces these pathogens inhabit also vary greatly. For best results, professional cleaners must know the target pathogens and the corresponding dwell times. Some products may have dwell times of only seconds, while others may require up to 10 minutes or more before they achieve the desired pathogenic control.
Dwell times can range from 10 seconds to 10 minutes.
Finding Dwell Times
If you are using an EPA-registered disinfectant, the product label will contain the dilution and dwell-time information along with other critical safety information. If your disinfectant was created by an EPA-registered device (i.e. electrochemically activated water), dwell-time and efficacy information can usually be found on the manufacturer or dealer website. Confirming that your disinfectant has been rigorously tested for efficacy and safety is very important. (See example here).
Two-Step Cleaning and Dwell Times
For maximum effectiveness, we recommend using the two-step cleaning process to help prevent the spread of disease-causing pathogens. Step one: Clean and remove unwanted soils from surfaces using a cleaning solution with a microfiber. This will help to remove potential microbial harborage areas. Step two: Apply a disinfecting solution to surfaces while adhering to the manufacturer recommendations for dilution, safety, and dwell time. Finally, after waiting for the recommended dwell time, remove the solution with a wet/dry vacuum or microfiber.
Top-to-Bottom Disinfection, and Dwell Times
Top-to-Bottom and dry-to-wet disinfecting used in conjunction with the two-step cleaning process will ensure you are doing all you can to provide a cleaner and healthier environment for your clients. As mentioned above, some products and pathogens require longer dwell times to achieve control. This makes top-to-bottom disinfecting the preferred method for maximum efficacy. For example, when cleaning a restroom, apply the two-step method of cleaning first. Begin by cleaning and removing all unwanted soils from sinks, toilets, urinals, and other microbial hotspots. Then apply your disinfectant solution to the same areas to allow for proper dwell times. Then begin top-to-bottom, dry-to-wet cleaning. While you are using high dusting tools to remove unwanted soils from the ceiling and walls, the disinfectants can achieve their desired dwell times without slowing the cleaner down.
Clean and disinfect top to bottom.
Following these simple processes and carefully adhering to the label recommended dwell times will help to ensure that you are killing, capturing, and containing disease-causing pathogens and preventing the spread of infectious disease. For more helpful tips on commercial cleaning, commercial cleaning products, please visit our website and read more of our blogs here.