The Disinfection Question: A Look at Different Disinfection Methods and How to Achieve Whole Room Disinfection
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HealthcareAugust 30, 2021

The Disinfection Question: A Look at Different Disinfection Methods and How to Achieve Whole Room Disinfection

The continued impact of COVID-19 has highlighted how important disinfection is in shared spaces. During the pandemic and beyond, industries like healthcare, education, transportation, and more must ensure their complex areas and spaces are effectively disinfected against pathogens.

With so many products on the market claiming that they “clean,” “sanitize,” or “disinfect,” it can be confusing to know which method and solution to use, and when to use it. Above all, you should aim for a product that “disinfects”—as “cleaning” simply removes debris and “sanitizing” only reduces some of the number and growth of bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Further, you should ensure your chosen solution is EPA-registered, and appears on the EPA’s List K (registered antimicrobial products effective against C. difficile spores) or List N (registered disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2).

Let’s break down all of the most common methods of disinfection, explore their pros and cons, understand when to use them, and determine if they really deliver true whole room disinfection—which is classified as powerful disinfection that gets into every nook and cranny of a specific area, killing any germs that are lurking there.

Spray and Wipe

The “spray and wipe” disinfection method may be the most commonly used disinfection or cleaning tool. Easy to use, low cost, and requiring a relatively low contact time, the spray and wipe technique can also be used preventatively to disinfect surfaces like counters, elevator buttons, desks, pens, and other objects that are touched or shared throughout the day.

However, this method is lacking severely when it comes to environments that are known to have been exposed to pathogens. The inherit limitations of a manually-deployed solution means pathogens are likely to remain. Spray and wipe solutions are very prone to human error, expose people to potentially hazardous chemicals, and they offer a wet delivery that can harm sensitive equipment. They do not deliver true whole room disinfection, as they can only be applied manually and will miss hard to reach spaces. This method can be paired with a more reliable method of disinfection if desired.

Electrostatic Sprayers

Electrostatic sprayers have become increasingly used during the COVID-19 pandemic as an upgrade to manual spray bottles, particularly in academic institutions and transportation. They work by applying a positive charge to liquid disinfectants as they flow through the device’s nozzle. The positively charged disinfectant is attracted to negatively charged surfaces, and partially wraps around these surfaces to disinfect them.

Electrostatic sprayers have a moderate upfront cost with quick turnover, but they should only be used in lower-risk environments or as an added routine disinfection tactic. They produce inhalable aerosols, have the same “thoroughly wet” requirement that can damage electronics and other materials, and they seldom reach all the cracks and crevices in a room. Thus, they are not for whole room disinfection.

UV Light

UV light disinfection systems have become more popular in recent years. Some of these can be used for small consumer products like cellphones. Others can be used commercially or in higher risk environments. In these settings, UV light’s relative advantage is that it’s easy to use and not very labor intensive.

However, UV light has as many drawbacks as benefits. It can be very costly, can cause damage to many plastics and other materials over time, and its efficacy is impacted by the distance surfaces are from the light. Most importantly, it cannot reach pathogens in shadowed areas and it has a lower log kill rate (the percentage of a given germ killed by a particular process or disinfectant) than other types of disinfection methods. This type of disinfectant solution is best used in areas that simply need to be sanitized, for hand-held devices, or to augment other types of real disinfection.

Air Purifiers

Air purifiers work by sanitizing the air, which may include pollutants, allergens, and germs. The particles that are removed by an air purifier ultimately depends on the type of purifier. Some have filters to trap particles as air flows through them, while others may neutralize particles in the air without filtering them first.

Some air purifiers have their drawbacks, however. For instance, some air purifiers emit ozone gas as a byproduct, and others may be particularly susceptible to mold and bacteria inside their filters. Ultimately, they are unable to kill all germs and viruses on surfaces and those that may lurk in nooks and crannies.

Dry Fog

Dry fog is generated by specialized equipment that disperses a solution of micro-droplets into the air in such a way as to create hydrogen peroxide vapor that can penetrate cracks and crevices. No surfaces are wetted. These foggers should not be confused with the sprayers often referred to as “ULV foggers”—no ULV sprayer has been certified by the EPA to date. True dry fog fills spaces beyond the reach of sprays, wipes, or UV lights.

Dry fog is ideal for treating contaminated areas where an infected individual was located, disinfecting high-risk environments like hospitals or correctional facilities, and periodically disinfecting any busy, shared space.

Requiring little training and operated with ease, dry fog disinfectant delivery systems offer a uniform, dry application that will not damage sensitive equipment or electronics. While true foggers have a higher cost of acquisition than other equipment (other than UV lights, of course) and require a longer treatment time, it is the most effective type of disinfectant on the market today—and is the only one of these methods that is true whole room disinfection.

The Most Effective and Most Affordable Whole Room Disinfection Solution

As dry fog has been determined to be the most powerful type of disinfectant solution for those looking for the best method, it’s important to choose the right system that offers all of its benefits. Halosil’s Halo Disinfection System® is able to uniformly deploy HaloMist™ (EPA Reg. No. 84526-6) sporicidal disinfectant via a dry fog that delivers true whole room disinfection and achieves complete coverage with the highest possible efficacy.

At Halosil, we have proven experience working with teams in nearly every industry to provide reliable and easy-to-use disinfection solutions. Contact us today to learn more about what we can do for your unique disinfection needs.

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