label says to pre-clean heavily soiled surfaces before applying a disinfectant.
Is there a reason for this?
Yes. Since a disinfectant
doesn't know the difference between greasy soil and bacteria, it is
best to pre-clean heavy soil first. This way there is more active disinfectant
(quat) to attack germs instead of attacking dirt.
How do quaternary disinfectants actually work?
Quat-based disinfectants carry
a positive charge. Bacteria, viruses and fungi carry a negative charge.
When a bacteria-laden surface is sprayed or mopped with a disinfectant,
the charge distribution of the bacteria cell changes from negative to
positive. This results in the disruption of the bacteria cell wall and
eventual death to the microbe.
My floor is protected with an acrylic floor finish.
Can I clean it with a quat-based disinfectant?
Yes. We only recommend using
neutral pH disinfectants to clean finished floors. Use Essential's Neutral
Germicidal Cleaner (#702).
Your disinfectant labels state to "apply solution
with a mop, cloth or hand-pump trigger sprayer as to wet all surfaces
thoroughly. Allow to remain wet for 10 minutes..." Why is the 10-minute
contact time necessary?
In short, quats need time
to work. The process explained above (under bullet point two) takes
time to occur. The cell walls do not break down immediately - thus necessitating
the 10-minute contact time.
Some manufacturers and distributors claim that
trigger spray bottles containing ready-to-use disinfectant solution
should be changed daily. Is there any truth to this claim?
No. A raw material manufacturer
of quaternary ammonium compound disinfectants performed testing on the
ready-to-use version of a 10% disinfectant to determine the time frame
wherein the product would remain effective. The original testing was
performed in August of 1994 and passed all efficacy testing requirements.
The testing was then repeated in May of 1996. The product again proved
to be efficacious a year and nine months later. Therefore, it is concluded
that the shelf-life of quaternary ammonium compound disinfectants in
their ready-to-use form is at least one year. Note, however, that there
are many variables to consider concerning shelf-life. These include
hardness of water, contamination of the concentrate or ready-to-use
product and the integrity (composition and seal) of the container.
What is the difference between disinfecting and
Disinfection is the removal
or destruction of pathogens from inanimate objects. Non-pathogenic environmental
organisms (coliforms) may not be completely eliminated through disinfection.
Sanitization is the cleansing of inanimate objects to reduce the microbial
count to a safe level.
I want to make sure my disinfectant performs as it should. What factors
affect how well a disinfectant works?
There are six main
factors listed below with a short description of each:
- this is dilution rate. Proper dilution is very important. Read label
for complete dilution directions.
Time - for quats, this is very important and is discussed
more thoroughly above. For other disinfectants, such as bleach, contact
time is not very critical.
- certain disinfectants work best under acidic conditions (bleach)
and others work best under alkaline conditions (quats).
- certain disinfectants work best in cold water (bleach). Most, like
quats, work best in warm water.
Load - quats and other disinfectants do not know the difference
between soil and bacteria. That is why heavy soil should be removed
before disinfecting. See explanation above for more details.
Type - not all disinfectants work on all types of organisms.
When in doubt, read the product label for a complete list.
How can I calculate active parts per million (PPM) of the disinfectant
To calculate active PPM, you'll
need three things - the active ingredient list from the disinfectant
label, dilution rate of the product and a calculator. Below is an example
of how this would be done using Neutral Germicidal Cleaner (#702):
Add together active ingredient percentages from the label:
5.07% + 3.38% = 8.45% total active ingredients.
Multiply by 10,000:
8.45 X 10,000 = 84,500
Divide the result of Step 2 by the dilution rate (128
in the case of 702):
84,500 ÷ 128 = 660 PPM.
time-to-time I hear references to "quat generations". Can
you tell me what they are?
There are four generations
(some say there are five) that are commonly used for formulating sanitizers
and disinfectants. They include:
Name (on product label)
Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chloride
Dimethyl Benzyl / Alkyl Dimethyl Ethylbenzyl Ammonium Chlorides
Dimethyl Ammonium Chloride
Dimethyl / Alkyl Dimethyl Benzyl Ammonium Chlorides
generation does not necessarily mean improved disinfection efficacy,
although they often perform better under heavier organic soil loads
and high water hardness. They all still control or kill bacteria and
What are the physical properties of disinfectants,
including Quats, Chlorine, Iodine and Phenolics?
chart below best illustrates the physical properties of various disinfectants:
Irritant at Use Dilution
|Stability / Shelf Life