Dwell Times Explained

Many of us have been doing a lot more cleaning and disinfecting over this past year, especially focusing on high-touch surfaces like countertops, desks, doorknobs, faucet handles, and electronic devices. However, some of us are used to giving a surface a quick spray, followed immediately by a wipe or two, which may not allow enough time for the product to work effectively. To make sure a disinfectant is doing its job, it's crucial to follow the recommended "dwell time," also known as "contact time" or "kill time." Whether you’re worried about the coronavirus, cold and flu viruses, foodborne pathogens, or other harmful germs that can lurk in our homes, work environments, and other public spaces, it’s crucial to give the disinfectant enough time to do its job. 

In this article, we’ll discuss the importance of dwell 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 to achieve the product's advertised kill rate." Disinfect solutions can target a wide range of pathogens, and the surfaces these pathogens inhabit can vary greatly. 

To be sure a surface has been thoroughly disinfected, it’s essential to always pay attention to the dwell time recommendations on the product’s label, especially if someone in your home, school, or business has been sick with a contagious illness. In some cases, organism contamination can reach very high levels – for instance, when you're working with raw meat in the kitchen or when someone in your household is ill, and an area has been contaminated with vomit or diarrhea, or other bodily fluids.

Some pathogens, such as norovirus (which causes severe gastrointestinal symptoms), are particularly tough to eliminate and are highly contagious. Vital Oxide is effective against norovirus, with a five-minute contact time. 

Why Are the Recommended Dwell Times So Different? 

In short, it depends on which bacteria and viruses the product claims to kill. To make a disinfectant claim, a product must go through a rigorous testing process established by a country’s regulatory agencies. In the U.S., the EPA is tasked with ensuring that products are safe and effective at killing targeted organisms. To test a disinfectant, scientists cover a surface with a hefty dose of the organism being studied. They then douse the surface with a disinfectant and let it sit for a set amount of time before testing to determine whether any of the organisms remain viable. 

Why Does the Label Say a Surface Has to Be Pre-cleaned Before Applying Disinfectant?

First, it’s essential to understand that cleaning and disinfecting are not the same. Unfortunately, these two actions are commonly (and incorrectly) used synonymously. In reality, cleaning is not disinfecting – and disinfecting is not cleaning. 

Instead, disinfecting is a second step – what you do after you clean. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cleaning "refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. It does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection." Disinfecting, on the other hand, "refers to using chemicals, for example, EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs. Still, by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection." It's important to note that the EPA regulates the term "disinfecting." To be registered as a disinfectant, the product must undergo significant antimicrobial testing and meet rigorous germ-killing standards. There are 3 EPA classes of disinfectants: limited spectrum disinfectant, broad-spectrum disinfectant, and hospital disinfectants. Vital Oxide is classified as a hospital disinfectant. 

So, if the surface is covered in dirt, grime, bodily fluids, dust, food residue, etc., then yes, you do need to thoroughly clean away the debris and dirt before using a disinfectant. Remember, for a germicide to work effectively, it must touch the germs. If the surface you’re disinfecting is heavily soiled, the layer of grime can work as a shield – protecting the germs – which is why cleaning must always precede disinfection.

Vital Oxide can be used to pre-clean surfaces before disinfecting under lightly soiled conditions. Clean and disinfect in two easy steps: Spray and wipe Vital Oxide to clean, then spray and leave it behind to disinfect. Just make sure you are applying enough of the solution to remain wet for the proper contact time.

Related: Are You Disinfecting Correctly? 3 Important Steps for Effective Disinfectant Use 

All Disinfectants Are Not Created Equal 

Vital Oxide is tough on germs and easy on surfaces. This all-in-one product can be used to clean, sanitize soft surfaces and food contact surfaces, and disinfect, all without harsh chemicals, harmful fumes, or alarming safety warnings. Vital Oxide breaks down to simple salt after use, making it an environmentally-friendly choice. 

Vital Oxide is now tested and proven effective in killing the COVID-19 virus, SARS-CoV-2, on hard, non-porous surfaces, with a dwell time of just five minutes. Use Vital Oxide to clean and disinfect all areas of the home, school, workplace, and more. 

At Vital Oxide, we’re proud to offer a revolutionary disinfectant powerful enough to kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria without harsh chemicals. Follow us on Instagram (@vitaloxideofficial) for more great cleaning and disinfecting tips. If you have any questions, please Contact Us or Send Us a Message on Facebook. We're here to help!
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