How Effective Are Surface Disinfectant Wipes?


 surface disinfectant wipes on door handles

Disinfectant wipes sure are handy, but have you wondered if they are as good as spraying and wiping a surface? You might be happy to use them for wiping away dust, but are you confident they are suitable for a surface that may be contaminated with a pathogen or bodily fluids? We look at what you can use disinfectant wipes for and how well they work.

Can Disinfectant Wipes Kill Germs?

If the packaging for wipes or spray is labelled ‘disinfectant’, it meets strict criteria for active ingredients. Most household multi purpose wipes are suitable for cleaning greasy, dirty surfaces around the home. They’re labelled as being effective at killing 99.9% of germs such as E.coli, Salmonella and S.aureus. 

While multipurpose wipes are suitable for the home environment, they can’t be used effectively in some commercial or public settings. In healthcare and residential care settings where a wipe may be used to clean blood or blood-stained bodily fluid spills, a chlorine-based disinfectant is needed to ensure the surface is disinfected. The right active ingredient reduces the risk of bodily fluid spills becoming hospital-acquired infections. 

Liquid chlorine on wet wipes is unstable and isn’t a reliable disinfectant. Chlor Clean wipes use new technology in an established formula and remain dry until ready for use. The user activates the wipe with water and it’s ready for use. The wipes can be used to clean up to 30ml spills and disinfect with 10,000 ppm strength available chlorine. The wipes are ideal for nursing and care staff who need a quick clean up solution for small spills and to disinfect patient equipment and surfaces.   

What is the Difference Between Disinfectant Wipes & Antibacterial Wipes

Wipes labelled as ‘antibacterial’ are usually for wiping hands rather than cleaning surfaces. The problem with using antibacterial wipes on surfaces is they aren’t suitable for killing virus pathogens, just bacteria.  

Wipes labelled as ‘disinfectant’ often have the active ingredient benzalkonium chloride which has been available for 100 years. It continues to be a popular ingredient because it’s cheap and effective against the common household contaminants including bacteria, viruses, molds and fungi.

Wipes Suitable for Bodily & Other Fluids 

Standard disinfectant wipes are fine for disinfecting clean surfaces, but shouldn’t be used for cleaning bodily fluids.

The Guest Medical Biohazard wipes are hospital grade and designed for cleaning up small blood & blood-stained body fluid accidents and spills of up to 30 ml. The wipe can be placed directly on a spill to absorb the moisture and disinfect with 10,000 ppm strength available chlorine.

For larger bodily fluid spills, there are four single use spill packs. 

BioHazard Packs - Suitable for cleaning and disinfecting small bodily fluid spills in acute settings and clinical areas. The pack includes an apron, three dry Chlor Clean wipes, clinical waste sack and instructions. 

Vomit & Urine Spill Kits - A super absorbent pad is suitable for spills of up to 1 litre are used in schools, child cares and health care settings. Two dry Chlor Clean wipes disinfect the surface before placing in the disposable bag with the included gloves and apron. 

Chemical Spills - A dangerous chemical spill can happen anywhere. Having a kit on hand can quickly neutralise alkali and acidic spills. The kit contains a super absorbent pad, nitrile gloves, face shield, apron, disposable forceps, detergent wipe and disposable bag. 

Cytotoxic Spill Pack - Cytotoxic spills need their spill kit to deal with the dangerous cocktail. The kit includes a super absorbent pad, gloves, face shield, apron, detergent wipe and disposable cytotoxic waste disposable bag. 

Surfaces Suitable for Using Wipes

Disinfectant wipes are only effective on hard surfaces, they aren’t suitable for use on fabric and soft furnishings. The best method for cleaning fabrics is to machine wash them with a washing detergent.

How to Use Disinfectant Wipes

It doesn’t matter what type of disinfectant product you’re using, you must clean a surface before disinfecting unless it’s an approved 2-in-1 product such as Chlor-Clean. The new technology formula means you don’t need to wipe away the dirt and grime before sanitising a surface. 

But if you’re using multipurpose wipes in a household setting, these steps will clean and disinfect the surface. 

1. Use detergent and water and wipe the surface to remove any dirt, grease or grime. Either wipe to dry or let the surface air dry.

2. Read the wipes packaging to confirm they’re disinfectant wipes then look for any warnings and directions.

3. If required, put on gloves to protect your skin.  

4. Take a disinfectant wipe and use it over the surface so it wets the entire area.

5. Leave the surface wet and don’t touch it for as long as directed, so the disinfectant has time to work.

6. Discard the wipe.

7. Dry or rinse off the surface (may only be necessary for food preparation areas)

8. When finished, remove gloves and dispose.

9. Wash hands thoroughly.

When deciding what type of wipes you should be using consider what they’re being used for. If it’s household germs, a multipurpose wipe will do the job. For those occasional vomit or urine accidents, you may consider keeping a single-use spill kit on hand. They provide an easy cleanup and peace of mind that the surface has been effectively disinfected. 

For healthcare and residential settings where there are immune compromised people, more robust disinfectants are required. The Chlor-Clean disinfectant tablets provide a 1 litre bottle of hospital grade disinfectant liquid while the Chlor Clean wipes are ideal for quick clean-ups of any kind of small spill. 

If you have any queries about products for sanitising and disinfecting your workplace, call Helix Solutions on 1300 29 32 32 or contact us online.