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Are “faster kill time” disinfectants needed?

Several new disinfectants have come onto the market (including several from Multi-Clean) promoting faster kill times for pathogens.  While this might offer a way for healthcare institutions to improve infection control, it may take the focus off the real problem, which is the frequency and the  process of disinfecting.

A little background:  For years, disinfectants have been tested for efficacy using a standard test method called the AOAC Use Dilution Test.  The test method evaluates the disinfectant in the presence of pathogens with a contact time of 10 minutes.  After the 10 minutes, a pass or fail criteria is applied that determines whether the disinfectant is effective on the particular pathogen.

This pass fail test has been adapted to determine pass fail rates at times less than 10 minutes, hence the new faster kill time products.  To achieve the faster kill times, often it requires the use of higher levels of active ingredients and/or the use of more toxic compounds.  For example, sporicidal disinfectants containing a mixture of acetic acid and hydrogen peroxide (peroxyacetic acid) are more hazardous and can have an objectionable “vinegar” odor.

Don’t have 10 minutes to wait?  Enter the faster kill disinfectants with the sales pitch that cleaners don’t have the time to wait 10 minutes! Regardless of the noted contact time, if the process is not done correctly, contact time does not matter.

Don’t confuse sanitizing with disinfecting:

Sanitizing is a term that kills most of the pathogens on a surface, disinfecting kills 100% of the pathogens that are claimed.  Example:  Multi-Clean Century Q is a hospital grade disinfectant with a comprehensive list of pathogen claims, disinfecting contact time is 10 minutes, but Century Q will effectively sanitize surfaces in only 2 minutes.

You can’t change the dry time:    While you may be able to find disinfectant with a faster kill time, it is important to note the evaporating medium is water.  So regardless of the disinfectant used, the dry time cannot be changed using the same procedure.  If you properly disinfect, one can be confident the appropriate contact time has been achieved.

Focus on the process of disinfecting:  Disinfecting is different than cleaning.  When someone cleans a surface via wiping, they might intuitively wipe the surface to dryness, this however is NOT disinfecting.

Most modern disinfectants are tested in the presence of hard water and “organic serum”.  The organic serum is to simulate contamination from bodily fluids and organic matter.   What this means the products clean and disinfectant in one step.  But note, proper disinfecting protocol recalls removing gross filth (visible soil) first, then application of the disinfectant.

Summary and Conclusion  It is our opinion that proper training of environmental services personnel on the correct process of disinfecting will achieve the appropriate contact time, whether it is 1 minute, 3, 5 or 10 minutes.  Training employees on the correct process will ultimately improve infection rates and reduce the spread of contagious illnesses.

Some Do’s and Don’ts of disinfecting:

  • DO leaves surfaces visibly moist and allow to them to air dry.
  • DO remove visible soil first before disinfecting.
  • DO wear proper personal protection equipment.
  • DO focus disinfecting on frequently touches surfaces (high touch).
  • DO take extra personal protection precautions when cleaning up blood or bodily fluid spills.


  • DO NOT wipe surfaces to dryness.
  • DO NOT use visibly soiled disinfectant solutions.  Change visibly soiled solutions as needed.
  • DO NOT use the same cloth over and over.  Consider having multiple pre-moistened cloths to make frequent changes simple.
  • DO NOT speed dry surfaces with fans or heaters.
  • DO NOT use cotton cloths or cellulosic sponges, use microfiber towels to make the process efficient and effective.

Want a Faster Kill Time Disinfectant?

Multi-Clean Microcide TB kills most pathogens in 3 minutes or less.

Multi-Clean E-Fecticide kills pathogens in 5 minutes.

Multi-Clean offers Chlorinated Disinfecting Tablets with a 4 minute kills time for C-Diff.

Multi-Clean Century Q wipes kill a number of pathogens in less than 5 minutes.







Microcide TB  E-Fecticide      Century Q Wipes    Disinfecting Tablets


Visit the Multi-Clean website for more resources on disinfectant products.

VIDEO:  How to properly disinfect surfaces kill viruses and germs








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