CORONAVIRUS - Are you killing germs, or just spreading them around?

New coronavirus raises concerns around how to prevent the spread of germs.

There is currently no vaccine to prevent 2019-nCoV infection. The best method of prevention is reducing the spread of germs. You likely have a few different types of cleaning products and disinfectants. Without looking at their labels, do you know how much time each product requires to do what it claims?

People often believe that simply applying a disinfectant product and wiping it off will get the job done and eliminate harmful bacteria from from surfaces, such as countertops, door handles and knobs during the cold and flu season. But disinfectants are often misused, resulting in dangerous bacterial growth such as E.Coli, Salmonella and more. And if you're only using wipes, your workforce and family may be facing even more health risks.

Cleaning and disinfecting is the best way to reduce the spread of germs throughout hard non porous surfaces in your workplace and home. Not sure if you should be using a cleaner or disinfectant in your facility? If you are disinfecting, you should be using both.

Most cleaners don't disinfect, and most disinfectants don't clean.

Understanding the distinction between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting is important. While cleaning refers to the physical or mechanical removal of dirt and grime, as well as a portion of the germs on a given surface, sanitizing means reducing germ colonies down to a less dangerous level. Disinfecting means to "KILL" all applicable bacteria and viruses on a surface to an EPA-designated, extremely low tolerance.

Always Clean Before you Disinfect

It is important to clean or remove any visible soils before disinfecting. Cleaning removes loose soils, preparing the surface or object to be disinfected.

Disinfecting kills germs on the surface, preventing them from spreading. If a surface is not cleaned first, germs can hide under soils and reduce the efficacy of the disinfectant.

Dwell time (Kill time) is critical

If you miss even an inch of surface or you have not let the disinfectant dwell for the proper time, you are allowing germs to reproduce and continue spreading.

All disinfecting products need to "stay wet" on the surface for a specific length of time to kill all bacteria and viruses. This can be referred to as "kill time," "dwell time," and/or "contact time." While disinfecting wipes seem convenient, getting them to do their intended job is tougher than you'd expect. They're often used incorrectly, making them far less useful than one might think in the fight against illness-causing bacteria.

The kill time of a disinfectant varies by product, and can always be found on the product label. Disinfectant wipes typically instruct you to leave the cleaning surface visibly wet for 4-10 minutes, in order to eliminate dangerous illness-causing bacteria including Staph, E. Coli, Salmonella, MRSA, Norovirus, cold, flu and more.

If a disinfectant dries quickly, EPA regulations (and, often, the product's label) dictate that it must be reapplied until the total kill time is reached.

As an alternative to wipes, a disinfectant spray cleaner may be the better option. It can apply more liquid to the surface, and as a result is more likely to leave a surface wet for the required time than a wipe, without the need for reapplication. It also allows you to reach crack and crevice areas that wipes can't penetrate.

What Areas Should be Disinfected?

Depending on your facility and industry, different areas within your building will have different protocols on if they should be cleaned or cleaned and disinfected. High-touch points should always be disinfected. Depending on the surface and facility, you may have to disinfect high-touch surfaces several times a day.

High-touch areas include:

  • Doorknobs & Door Push Points

  • Handrails

  • Light Switches

  • Countertops (Bathrooms, Reception, Front Desk)

  • Telephones

  • Remote Controls

  • Soap Dispensers

  • Chair Handles

  • Keyboards & Mice

  • Room Keys

  • Elevator Buttons

  • Water Stations & Drinking Fountains

  • Restroom Faucets & Toilet Handles

  • Kiosks with Touch Screens

Best practices

  • Follow Proper Handwashing Procedures

  • Wash Hands Frequently

  • Have Hand Sanitizer Accessible

  • Provide Occupants with Facial Tissue

  • Avoid Close Contact with People who are Sick

  • Encourage Sick Individuals to Stay Home if Showing Symptoms and to Remain at Home Until Completely Well

  • Clean and Disinfect to Prevent the Spread of germs

People should scrub their hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before rinsing with running water. Remind people to wash their hands carefully and frequently, especially

after going to the bathroom, before eating, after coughing or sneezing, and before touching their eyes, nose or mouth

Final Thoughts

  • Encouraging and implementing preventative measures throughout your facility is critical to occupant health and infection prevention.

  • Perform a hazard assessment and update your plan.

  • Educate and train your workforce and family.

  • Utilize disinfectant products on surfaces to help limit the spread of diseases.

  • Always check the product label to confirm efficacy against a virus and review the proper protocols for disinfection.

  • Adhere to the manufacturer’s guidelines (or product label) for the recommended wet dwell time for disinfection.

According to the CDC, it is still unknown if a person can actually get 2019-nCoV by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes.

At the time of this writing, no EPA registered disinfectants have a claim against this specific Coronavirus (COVID-19).

However, to detect and contain the Novel Coronavirus, the EPA in accordance with the U.S government and the CDC has activated its Emerging Viral Pathogens Guidance for Antimicrobial Pesticides.

Under this guidance, EPA is providing pesticide registrants with a voluntary process to enable the use of certain EPA-registered disinfectant products against this emerging viral pathogen.

This means that select products that have been shown effective against similar viruses like Human Coronavirus, SARS associated Coronavirus, or Rotovirus can be used on hard (non-porous) surfaces against 2019 Novel Coronavirus when used in accordance with disinfection directions.

Although reducing germs is important in any facility, different facilities will require different cleaning products and procedures depending on the frequency, surfaces, and cleaning requirements and expectations of the business.

Consult with a chemical specialist to determine which products are best for your company and circumstances.

Email us and we will forward the sign below for you to print and post.


Accurate Ergonomics offers employers custom solutions designed to keep your workforce healthy, safe and injury-free. Our integrated health and wellness, ergonomics and musculoskeletal injury prevention training system will help your employees reduce illness, fatigue, discomfort, pain and costly injuries.

Visit our website at, contact Accurate Ergonomics at 1.866.950.3746, or email

You’ll be glad you did - and so will your workforce!


If you have not signed up to receive our ergonomics, health and injury prevention blog posts, click on "Login/Sign Up" above or "Contact" in the main navigation bar and let us know that you would like to be added to our email list.


The information contained in this post is intended for general information purposes only and is based on information available as of the date of this blog post. No representation is made that the information or references are complete or remain current. This post is not a substitute for review of the current applicable government regulations and standards specific to your location and business activity, and should not be construed as legal advice or opinion. Readers with specific questions should refer to the applicable standards or consult with an attorney.

  • LinkedIn Social Icon
  • Twitter Social Icon
  • Facebook
  • Tumblr Social Icon
  • YouTube
1.866.950.3746 (ERGO)

@2002-2020 Accurate Ergonomics - 1.866.950.3746 - All Rights Reserved