A disinfectant is a chemical solution that kills most microorganisms that can cause disease. Disinfectants are applied only to inanimate objects.

Choosing a Disinfectant

The disinfectant must have a drug identification number (DIN) from Health Canada.

An ideal disinfectant will:

  • Have a broad spectrum of antimicrobial effectiveness
  • Be fast acting (e.g., disinfectant will carry a rapid and realistic contact time)
  • Not be affected by environmental factors (e.g., disinfectant remains active in the presence of different soils or contaminants; doesn’t react negatively with other cleaning products)
  • Have good cleaning properties
  • Be non-toxic or non-irritating at in-use concentrations
  • Carry wide material compatibility
  • Be easy to use with clear label instructions
  • Be economical or cost effective in-use
  • Be stable in concentrate or use-dilution and therefore have a suitably long shelf life
  • Be environmentally friendly (e.g., third party eco-labeling such as EcoLogo provides affirmation of a preferred environmental profile of a disinfectant)

Using a Disinfectant

  • Wear appropriate personal protective equipment when the product is used
  • Cleaning is a critical step for disinfecting. Ensure there is substantial reduction in bioburden by manually scrubbing with a combination of detergents and water or use of an approved One-Step Disinfectant Cleaner
  • Consider the type of microorganisms that can potentially be present on the surface to be treated (e.g., is the surface exposed to blood, skin, and other debris?)
  • Choose the appropriate type and concentration chemical required for disinfecting (e.g., disinfecting a blood spill requires a higher concentration of disinfectant than disinfecting toys)
  • Ensure proper use of the disinfectant by following the manufacturer’s instructions (e.g., allow for adequate contact time, many require air drying vs. wiping to remove residual)
  • Change the disinfectant solution often and do not dip a soiled cloth into the disinfectant solution (e.g., no ‘double-dipping’)
  • Test the concentration of diluted disinfectants when necessary

References: Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee, Best Practices for Environmental Cleaning for Infection Prevention and Control in All Health Care Settings December 2009; CDC, Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008; National Collaborating Center for Environmental Health, Cleaning, Disinfection, and Sterilization at Personal Service Establishments, 2011.