Frequently Asked Questions Concerning Healthcare Disinfecting
What is the difference between ‘disinfectants’ and ‘sanitizers’? What is a ‘sterilant’?

A sanitizer reduces bacteria on environmental surfaces to a level that is considered safe by public health organizations. A food contact surface sanitizer reduces bacterial contamination by 99.999%. A non-food contact surface sanitizer reduces bacterial contamination by 99.9%.
A disinfectant kills all bacteria on environmental surfaces.
A sterilant kills all bacteria and spores on   environmental surfaces. Quaternaries are not sterilants since they are not effective against spores.

What is the difference between ‘limited disinfectant,’ ‘general disinfectant,’ and ‘hospital disinfectant’?


You can determine a “limited,” “general,” or “hospital” disinfectant by the microorganisms listed on the label.


Limited – must be supported by efficacy testing against either Salmonella cholerasuis or Staphylococcus aureus.

General – must be supported by efficacy testing against both Salmonella cholerasuis and Staphylococcus aureus
Hospital – must be supported by AOAC Use Dilution or AOAC Germicidal Spray efficacy testing against Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella cholerasuis and Pseudomonas aeruginosa.

A “Limited” disinfectant must have the statement “Limited Disinfectant” displayed on the front panel of the label.


A “Hospital” disinfectant will usually state that the product is a “Hospital Disinfectant” or “Meets the requirements for a Hospital Disinfectant.” These statements are not required for a hospital disinfectant.


How do germicidal quaternaries kill microorganisms?


Germicidal quaternaries carry a positive charge. Surfaces of microorganisms (algae, bacteria, fungi, and viruses) carry a negative charge. When a germicidal quaternary is applied, the positively charged quaternary attaches itself to the negative sites on the organism’s cell surface. This results in the disruption of the organism’s cell surface and eventual death.

What is ‘broad spectrum “efficacy”’?


The EPA’s definition of a “broad spectrum” disinfectant is one that has public health claims for all three of the major classes of organisms.

•Bacteria – effective against gram-negative and gram-positive bacteria.
•Fungi – effective against at least one pathogenic fungi (usually Trichophyton mentagrophytes).

•Viruses – effective against pathogenic viruses (at least one enveloped virus such as Influenza A and one non-enveloped virus such as Adenovirus).
Sanitizers are not considered broad spectrum by EPA’s definition since they are only meant to reduce bacteria levels.

What is a ‘neutral disinfectant’? Should I be using a ‘neutral disinfectant’? Are all ‘neutral disinfectants’ the same?


The term neutral refers to the pH of the disinfectant. A neutral disinfectant could have a pH as low as a 6 and as high as 8.5. Whether or not a customer should be using a neutral disinfectant is dependent on end use application. Neutral disinfectants are less likely to dull high gloss floor finishes with repeated use. Typically, medical care facilities prefer neutral disinfectant cleaners. Not all neutral disinfectants are the same. The use dilution, active ingredient(s) and/or surfactant (cleaning agents) could be different.

Are there products with claims against blood borne pathogens (HIV, HAV, HBV, HCV)?


Yes, there are many end use registrations that have claims against these blood borne pathogens. See Product efficacy chart for details.


Are there any end use registrations that are tuberculocidal?

Yes, Fight Bac RTU, TB Plus and TB Plus Spray are all tuberculocidal.

Why should I care about contact time?


The shorter the contact time, the shorter the time needed to perform the disinfectant process. The maximum contact time for a disinfectant is 10 minutes. We offer disinfectants with a shorter contact time. This allows for labor savings. The required contact time for food-contact surface sanitizers is 1 minute. For non-food contact sanitizers, contact time is less than or equal to 5 minutes.