Demystifying Disinfectant Contact Time

Categories: Articles & Healthcare September 21, 2017
Truth About Contact Time

PDI Healthcare’s Director of Laboratory Sciences & Services, James Clayton, wrote an article on disinfectant contact times for Healthcare Purchasing News online.

Demystifying disinfectant contact time

Healthcare Purchasing News (

Author: James Clayton


Effective environmental disinfection in the healthcare setting is imperative to maintaining a low bioburden and helping prevent the spread of healthcare-associated infections. Recent studies have shown that environmental contamination plays an important role in the transmission of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Carbapenem-resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CRE), Clostridium difficile and Norovirus. For proven disinfection of the environmental surfaces in healthcare settings, users turn to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered disinfectants.

All disinfectants are not created equal

While healthcare professionals rely on the extensive information provided by EPA-regulated disinfectant products, individual product labels can vary greatly. In the United States and Canada alone, you’ll find a plethora of registered disinfectant products for sale, with several notable distinctions. Among the six most common chemistries used for hospital disinfectants, users will find extensive differences in contact times, label language, efficacy, concentrations and personal protection needed for proper usage.

Of these variances, contact time is a common area of confusion for healthcare staff. It is normal to see varying contact times for different micro-organisms with the same use directions. At the same time, products from the same manufacturer may carry different language and instructions for use. Not surprisingly, it can be difficult to decipher the specific language and use directions on one product versus another. As a result of this confusion, proper compliance deteriorates.

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