What is Disinfection?

Disinfection Definition

Disinfection is the process of killing harmful viruses, bacteria, and microorganisms from surfaces and materials using chemical products and specific cleaning procedures.

Disinfecting kills 99.999% of the pathogens listed on the disinfectant’s label and its safety data sheet (SDS). Disinfectants kill viruses, bacteria, and other microorganisms, but only those listed on the label and SDS; no disinfectant kills all pathogens. Cleaning should always precede disinfecting to prevent dirt and debris from shielding pathogens from the disinfectant and allowing them to thrive and multiply. Surfaces must remain damp with disinfectants for the full dwell time stipulated by the manufacturer, or the surface will not be disinfected.

Key Considerations

Overuse of Disinfectants

All disinfectants used in the United States must be registered with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Disinfectants are registered with the EPA as pesticides for a reason; they should not be misused. Disinfectants are necessary, especially for use by hospital environmental services (EVS) technicians and when an infectious disease is known to be present. However, overuse of disinfectants can create superbugs.


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