Clean Insights Blog

A Q&A Guide to Selecting Disinfectant Wipes For Your Facility

| August 2, 2019

Over the past decade, disinfectant wipes have become a staple for facilities of all kinds. 

  • Fitness centers offer wipes to allow members to sanitize and disinfect equipment after use. 
  • Offices and workplaces invest in wipes to promote hygiene amongst staff and employees.
  • Schools use wipes to prevent kids from getting sick. 
  • Hotels have wipes available as a brand standard to let guests and travelers know that cleanliness is their top priority. 
  • Hospitals and medical facilities rely on disinfectant wipes to eradicate HAIs and protect patients. 

Wipes, in general, have become a preferred go-to cleaning product, with a 7.2% projected growth within the next few years, according to Smithers Apex. Gone are the days of using spray bottles and towels to remove germs and grime from surfaces and equipment, which over time proved to be unpopular, ineffective and flawed. 

WHY PEOPLE PREFER DISINFECTANT WIPES

When researchers interviewed a group of gym-goers, 90% of them preferred wipes over sprays and towels. So what makes these microfiber towelettes so popular among customers and consumers?

    • Easy to use – Disinfectant wipes don’t require the mixing of chemicals, which could be dangerous. People like the fact that you simply grab the wipe from the bucket, wipe, and toss. 
    • Convenient – When wipes are easily accessible, it makes cleaning and sanitizing hands, surfaces, and equipment simple.  
    • Time-saving – Wiping equipment and surfaces takes less than a minute, significantly less time than using a spray bottle and towel or other cleaning methods. 

Given this information, if you aren’t already, you should definitely be investing in wipes for your business! The people have spoken. But you shouldn’t buy just any wipe. There are specific questions you need to ask a supplier or manufacturer to see if a disinfectant wipe is qualified to be used in your facility before purchasing it. What are they? Keep reading to find out!


Alex Kondratiev on Unsplash

 

WHAT IS THE FORMULA?

Knowing what chemical ingredients make up the wipe is essential. Many leading name brands rely heavily on hazardous compounds to kill pathogens and remove germs. It’s important to read the ingredient list, label or SDS sheet to understand what the disinfectant wipe is composed of.


TRY TO AVOID THE FOLLOWING CHEMICALS


  • Isopropyl Alcohol is a highly flammable chemical that is commonly used, yet harbors several hidden dangers. Aside from being highly corrosive to many materials, when mixed with bleach, isopropyl alcohol releases chloroform vapors, which can harm the central nervous system, irritate the skin, and cause liver or kidney damage. 
  • Bleach has been recorded as a highly toxic chemical. It’s mostly known to cause irritation to the upper respiratory system, as well as being harmful to skin and eyes. Additionally, it’s a highly volatile chemical that emits a toxic and sometimes deadly vapor when mixed with ammonia, isopropyl alcohol, and other ingredients in many popular disinfectants and cleaning products. 
  • Hydrogen Peroxide is often promoted as a safe alternative to bleach, but in reality, it can be very harmful to those who come into contact with it. Irritation and injury to the nose, eyes, throat, and skin are most common. 

Using disinfectant wipes that contain toxic chemicals impact your business in several ways including: 

  • Causing expensive equipment, surfaces, and electronics to corrode, discolor, or crack. 
  • Shortening the lifespan of equipment and surfaces, as these products accelerate wear and tear. You’ll need to repair and replace equipment more often, leading to higher long-term costs to operate your facility. 
  • Posing a threat to customer and employee health and wellbeing – contact with toxic chemicals can cause skin irritation, breathing and lung complications, trigger asthma and allergies, and other health conditions.

You also need to know that the disinfectant wipe’s formula is EPA registered to kill the pathogens listed. The EPA strenuously tests each product before granting the registration, ensuring that the wipe effectively does what it claims. 

It’s easy for companies to make false claims or tell half-truths on labels and websites, but only the best of the best get the seal of approval from the EPA. Oftentimes, only EPA registered products are able to be used in facilities for compliance, health, and safety reasons.


Photo by Mabel Amber

 

WHAT IS THE DWELL TIME? 

Dwell Time is also referred to as “Kill Time” or “Contact Time”. It is the period of time a disinfectant wipe’s formula must dwell on or be in contact with a surface to kill harmful organisms. 

Disinfectants work when they are wet, so your cleaning solution must be able to stay wet on the surface a set amount of time for all harmful pathogens to be killed. Most EPA-registered disinfectants have a Dwell Time between 2 to 10-minutes, with most of them falling into the higher end of the spectrum. 

This can be inconvenient because you may not have that much time to allow the surface or equipment to be properly disinfected. Some wipes also contain alcohol, which evaporates before the recommended Dwell Time is reached. Understanding Dwell Time is crucial to prevent misuse and inefficiency. 

A higher Dwell Time is less effective and probably not the best choice for a busy facility that sees dozens of people every day. There may not be enough time for surfaces to dry completely to safely disinfect the surface before it’s used again. However, if your facility doesn’t experience a lot of traffic or isn’t as busy, high Dwell Time products may be the right choice for you. 

Products that have shorter Dwell Times are ideal for busy facilities that have numerous high-touch surfaces that can become contaminated by users. If more than one person will be using a surface immediately after the last user on a regular basis, a disinfectant wipe with a shorter Dwell Time should be used so that the product can be effective in preventing the spread of infections and disease.



Sophie Janotta from Pixabay



WHAT ARE THE KILL CLAIMS? 

Many disinfectant wipes on the market claim to kill 99.9% of germs and bacteria, but what germs do they specifically kill? It’s important to understand this when selecting the best wipe for your facility. 

Start by reviewing the fine print. What is the product EPA-registered to kill? Does the product kill the pathogens that are most commonly associated with your facility? Naturally, we’re all concerned with removing harmful cold and flu viruses, but beyond that, the answer will vary based on your industry. Hospitals, gyms, kitchens, and schools are all breeding grounds for infections, but not always the same ones. For example, 

  • Fitness centers are especially prone to MRSA, ringworm, and staph infections. 
  • Offices see more outbreaks of norovirus, salmonella, listeria, and gastroenteritis. 
  • Restaurants are prone to foodborne illnesses caused by E. Coli, listeria, and campylobacter. 
  • Hotels need to focus on controlling MRSA, norovirus, and staph outbreaks. 
  • Hospitals are more likely to harbor C. Diff and Hepatitis Viruses

You need to know the bacterial threats in your industry. This can help you choose disinfectant wipes that kill a wide spectrum of pathogens. Doing so can enhance safety and infection prevention, keeping your customers, employees, and your reputation safe. 



Acharaporn Kamornboonyarush from Pexels



WHAT IS THE THE WIPE COUNT?

Wipe count affects your total annual costs, convenience for customers and employees, and environmental impact. 

First, consider how many wipes your facility will need. How many wipes will be used in each area each day, on average? To determine this, factor in approximately how many times each area will need to be disinfected each day. How many wipes is that per area, per day? Multiply this by 31 to calculate your average monthly usage of individual wipes. 

Next, find out how many wipes are in the canister or bucket you will be purchasing. Lower count containers can result in more orders and running out of disinfecting wipes in critical locations – both adding unnecessary costs to your business. 

Try to order wipes that come in 700-count or more containers. You’ll save money and time with this approach because you’ll order and need staff to refill less frequently. You’ll also incur fewer costs for the actual containers which can add up. Additionally, look for wipes that come in recyclable buckets instead of canisters as canisters can cost more and are not biodegradable. 



Gerd Altman from Pixabay



WHAT IS THE MATERIAL AND IS IT GOOD QUALITY?

The quality and material of the wipes you select are critical. Not only does it contribute to the effectiveness of the product and safety of your facility, but it can also:

  • Improve the user-experience: Who wants a wipe that tears while they’re using it?
  • Increase consumption: Flimsy wipes will require more to be used, which can add up and be wasteful in the long run. 
  • Increase your environmental impact: More consumers are looking for ways to reduce their environmental footprint, and are expecting businesses and corporations to follow suit. 

To find the best wipe for your facility, consider the quality of the wipe by asking these questions: 

    • Does it tear easily? 
    • Is it adequately saturated? 
    • Is it durable? 
    • Is it large enough to disinfect a piece of equipment? 
    • What is the material? 
    • Does it leave a residue? 

Different tasks require different types of material wipes. Durability, total count per roll, and absorbance are all a result of the material your wipes are made from. 

Wipes are made of: 

  • Non-woven cellulose which is thin and often leave fibers on surfaces. 
  • Non-woven polyester and polypropylene which are recyclable and have mid-level durability. 
  • Woven and knitted fabrics which are the most durable options. 
  • Biodegradable fabrics range in thickness and quality. 

Thinner wipes may suit your facility’s needs if they have the correct size, durability, and moisture content for an effective Dwell Time. However, woven and knit fabrics and some biodegradable wipes are often on the premium end, offering the most efficient and effective solution. Again, the best choice for your facility will be determined by the things that are unique to your space. 

DETERMINE WHAT YOU NEED – CLEANING, SANITIZING, OR DISINFECTANT WIPES? 

Ultimately, there are an overwhelming amount of choices when you’re trying to choose the best disinfectant wipes for your facility. But you can choose the best wipe that meets your needs when you’re clear about what you need and what you’re looking for. 

Questions to help you get started include: 

    • Do you need a cleaning wipe? 
    • Do you need a sanitizing wipe?
    • Do you need a disinfectant wipe? 
    • Do you need a wipe that neutralizes odors? 
    • Do you need a wipe that is safe? 

The unique needs of your facility are the best way to guide your decision. When you’re armed with a little extra knowledge about the five more important things to consider, your choice will be much easier when you are ready to settle on manufacturer or brand. 

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