Guidance on Proper Application of Disinfectants (Antimicrobials)

Many contractors today are selling several disinfectant products and applications methods for customers in the Albany, GA area.  Like any disaster or contamination situation, consumers should be educated on the products and services they are purchasing.  Not all disinfecting products and methods are safe and reliable.  The following can help guide consumers in purchasing services.

Contractor Certification

Any contractor selling disinfecting services should hold a certification qualifying them by training and knowledge about appropriate product selection and application.  Some examples in the restoration industry include the Institute of Inspection Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC), American Industrial Hygiene Association (AIHA), Indoor Air Quality Association (IAQA), or the Restoration Industry Association (RIA).  In the Janitorial industry, this may include the Building Services Contractors Association International (BSCAI), or International Sanitary Suppliers Association (ISSA)—The Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association.  Other associations in both the cleaning and restoration industries share knowledge about applying disinfectants.  Contractors should be able to show proof of training and certification for disinfectant application.  This ensures that they fully understand how to apply and use the products they bring into homes or facilities.

Occupant Safety

Disinfectants vary widely in their toxicity toward humans.  Not all disinfectants are safe for humans, and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE; e.g., gloves, goggles, respirators) always is recommended when applying them.  Also, it is recommended that surfaces (touch points) be cleaned with an appropriate detergent before disinfectants are applied.  Otherwise, reaction with soils can render disinfectants ineffective.  Further, some disinfectants (ammonium chloride based) leave residues that should be cleaned from surfaces after application, especially food-preparation or consumption surfaces.  Moreover, most disinfectants must be provided at least 10 minutes of “dwell” time to kill microorganisms including fungi, bacteria and viruses.  Botanical disinfectants, such as those containing thyme and lemongrass oils, have low human toxicity, and are preferred in most applications, especially in restaurants and child-occupied facilities.  Look for EPA Registration on product labels or Safety Data Sheets.

ULV Fogging

Many contractors are using Ultra Low Volume (ULV) fogging to apply disinfectants in commercial or residential spaces.  ULV fogging is an adjunct to, and not a replacement for, manual cleaning with appropriate detergent (see section below on Cleaning vs. Disinfecting).  According to most product formulators, personal protective equipment (PPE) is required for ULV fogging, and unprotected occupants should leave spaces during wet fogging, and for up to 2-4 hours following application.  During the fogging process micro-droplets are dispersed in air and can remain there for several hours, which is why safety instructions from manufacturers must be followed closely.  Botanical disinfectants may require less evacuation time, due to their low toxicity.  Never stay in your home or office during any fogging or misting application.

Thermal Fogging

Thermal foggers use heat in the fogging process, which renders many disinfecting products inert.  Do not allow a contractor to thermal-fog a disinfectant, since no actual disinfecting typically will occur.


Special Notes to Restaurants and Child-Occupied Facilities

Products with quaternary ammonium chlorides may not be appropriate for ULV fogging in restaurants without proper follow-up procedures.  These products state that, when applied with a ULV fogger, they must be given 2-4 hours to settle out of the air, then food preparation and consumption surfaces must be wiped clean using a food-grade sanitizer or detergent.  In a child-occupied facility, disinfecting products may come into contact with toys or other items that could cause residues to be ingested by a child.  Carefully study product labels for application instruction for restaurants and child-occupied facilities.

Cleaning Versus Disinfecting

Most disinfectants state that surfaces must be clean prior to application, which requires manual cleaning with appropriate detergent.  This is because soiled surfaces can prevent contact between disinfecting agents and the virus itself, and reaction with surface soils can render a disinfectant inactive.  This cleaning does not necessarily have to be done by the same contractor applying disinfectant.  However, when hiring a contractor to apply disinfectant using a ULV or spray mist, you should ensure that the surface has been cleaned by yourself, or a qualified cleaning contractor, or by the contractor applying disinfectant.  It is also worth noting that not all disinfectants may be used as cleaners, unless specified by the product label.  Always discuss the cleanliness of your facility in detail with your contractor to ensure that proper disinfecting occurs.


If you do not hire a professional contractor for disinfectant application services, it is important that you review other guidelines specified in this document, and follow manufacturer or formulator label directions.  Always wear PPE according to product formulator label instructions, and always apply products according to label specifications.  Remember, to be effective, most products require a clean surface and a minimum of 10 minutes of wet contact with the disinfecting product.  Always apply disinfectants and leave them to air dry.  If you immediately wipe a surface dry, you may prevent the disinfectant from completely killing the virus.

Using Bleaches as Disinfectants

There are two common bleaches used in homes and businesses today: 3% hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) and 5.25-6% household chlorine bleach (sodium hypochlorite).  Peroxide should be used in the 3% solution, but chlorine bleach should be diluted to a ½% solution (mixed 1:10; i.e., one part chlorine bleach to 10 parts of water).  When used at that dilution, household chlorine bleach is a useful fungicide, bactericide and virucide, including killing emerging pathogens such as Covid-19.  However, chlorine bleach can be toxic to humans, corrosive to metals, and damaging many household dyes, fabrics and surfaces.  Chlorine bleach, as a disinfectant, is not recommended for use in most home and office applications, and other alternatives should be used when possible.

What Disinfectants Kill COVID-19

No disinfectant, at this time, may make a claim on their EPA-registered label that the product is proven effective at killing the COVID-19 Coronavirus.  This is because it is novel and actual testing has not occurred. The EPA antimicrobial List N is based on Emerging Pathogen claims, however many disinfectants meet the Emerging Pathogen efficacy requirements and may not have been qualified yet for List N.  Always check product Safety Data Sheets (SDS) from product manufacturers on any product a contractor is using for disinfecting.  All major manufacturers have released statements and disclaimers on their products, and these are readily available for access on the manufacturer’s web site, or by contacting them directly.



Antimicrobial Chemicals


antimicrobial – literally, “against microorganisms.”  A general term used to describe various compounds, usually built into a consumer product or material, that have the ability to limit, control, or stop the growth of microorganisms (fungi, bacteria, viruses and other organisms).

biocide – a substance that kills living organisms, both pathogenic and nonpathogenic.

pesticide – substances intended to control, repel or kill a living organism, except for those found on or in humans or animals.  Included are insecticides, rodenticides, herbicides, bactericides, fungicides, virucides.

sterilizer – a biocide that destroys or eliminates all forms of microbial life and their spores.

disinfectant – a biocide that kills a broad spectrum of microorganisms (bacterial, fungi, viruses), as tested and registered by public health agencies, but not all their spores.

sanitizer – compounds that significantly reduce microbes to safe levels as judged by public health agencies.

-stat – to limit or control, e.g., fungistat, bacteriostat

-cide – to kill, e.g., fungicide, bactericide, virucide, sporicide

  1. Types of Biocides (Disinfectants*):


Use Dilution








Alcohols (ethanol,


60 to 90% B, V, F Nonstaining,


Inactivated by

organic matter;

highly flammable

Quaternary ammonium compounds 0.4 to 1.6% B*, V*, F Inexpensive Inactivated by

organic matter;

limited efficacy

Phenolics 0.4 to 5% B, F, V, (T) Inexpensive,


Toxic, irritant;


Iodophors 75 ppm B, V, F, S**, T** Stable,

residual action

Inactivated by

organic matter;


Glutaraldehyde 2.0% B, V, F, S**, T Unaffected by

organics, noncorrosive

Irritating vapors;


Hypochlorites ≥5,000 ppm free

chlorine (mix 1:10)

B, V, F, S**, T Inexpensive Bleaching agent; toxic;

corrosive; inactivated by organic matter; 1, 2

Hydrogen peroxide 3% B, V, F, S**, T Relatively stable Corrosive; expensive; 3



B = Bactericidal

V = Virucidal

F = Fungicidal

S = Sporicidal

*   =  Limited effectiveness

** =  Requires prolonged contact

( ) =  Not all formulations

T  =  Tuberculocidal

1 = Removes color from many interior decor fabrics

2 = Dissolves protein (wool, silk)

3 = Degrades in heat or UV light

Source: Cole (1987), Rutala (1987), Rutala et al. (1991): Research Triangle Institute.

*A product may not be labeled “disinfectant” unless it has been tested and approved by federal regulatory agencies, such as the U.S. or Canadian EPA.  Product labels must list actual ingredients.

This document was prepared using information from reliable government sources by Bishop Clean Care, Inc., an IICRC-Certified firm in Albany, GA, for educating the general public on choosing a reputable contractor for disinfecting services during a time of national crisis. The provider makes no representations, warranties or guarantees as to the accuracy or completeness of any information contained herein, or that it use will result in compliance with any applicable laws, rules or regulations, or in safe, satisfactory or complete performance of a decontamination project. Users of this document assume all risks and liability resulting from use of and reliance upon information contained herein.  Application of the information contained herein is dependent upon the type of facility being treated and the overall health of facility occupants.  This document may be shared publicly with no specific cre