What are contact times in disinfection and why are they important?

Whether you own an office space or a care home you must understand contact times when it comes to keeping your space disinfected for its users.

If you are not sure what a contact time is, or how it affects the safety of your space, read on as we have some help to get you started!

What are contact times?

Contact times are sometimes called “dwell times” or “wet times” and refer to the amount of time a disinfectant needs to stay wet on a surface for it to be fully effective against germs. Usually, this time is detailed on a product’s labelling.

The term is often used in the healthcare industry but is also used in the commercial cleaning industry, where customer and staff health and safety are paramount.

Commonly, when we talk about contact times, we are referring to disinfectant products, but we can also include other commercial cleaning products if they have disinfection properties.

Cleaning contact time lengths and how they affect commercial cleaning

Typically contact times can last from as little as 15 seconds to as much as 30 minutes, depending on the chemicals in the product and the effectiveness of its use. For example, a fast-drying hand sanitiser has a much lower contact time than something with a lower alcohol content, which is diluted.

Contact times can be affected by environmental pressures too. For example, if your office is too hot, or has a low humidity problem then it can cause disinfectants to dry before they are fully effective at killing germs.

Disinfection contact times can also apply to the cleanliness of the surface to which a product is being applied. Let’s say you run a care home. If your staff have finished serving lunch and disinfect the tables without cleaning off dirt and spills first, then the disinfectant doesn’t reach the table’s surface.

This means it’s really important that your cleaning team understands the needs of your health and safety requirements, as well as the best products and applications for the job, given your environment. It also means they need to understand when and where to apply a second application.

Where we often see cleaning mistakes happen

When was the last time you were seated at a cafe table just after it had been sprayed and wiped over? We see this a lot. The problem is that there is a high chance that the disinfectant spray they used needed at least 30-second contact time. Directly wiping the surface dry, after a spray, might have made it easier to dress the table for your meal, but it also wiped away the disinfectant. Germs from the previous diners could still be on that table.

Equally, in office spaces and particularly high-touch areas, like reception desks, disinfection is important. Making sure that your cleaning team understands the products they are using and what contact times are needed, means you are more likely to get the clean you really need.

At Eco Drift, we suggest a two-fold approach to your office cleaning routines and contact times

To make sure your offices are cleaned correctly we like to take a two-fold approach to our commercial cleaning, taking very good care to understand your contact time needs.

Here’s the disclaimer bit

As you read about our two-step approach please bear in mind that this has been written as an overview of our procedure. This is because contact times and cleaning routines will depend on various factors in different settings, including but not limited to: 

  • Product differences
  • Concentrations and formulations
  • Differences in what you are treating within a space (fungi, bacteria and viruses)
  • Customer’s preferences and requirements
  • And the purpose of the space

During our first assessment we will be able to map out exactly what you need and what that cleaning protocol looks like.

Ok back to our overview…

Firstly, we clean/disinfect the surfaces regularly

When we come to your office space for our consultation we are looking for how we can provide the right bespoke cleaning service for you. This means understanding your environment, your HSE requirements and how you do business. From here we can create a cleaning schedule that allows you to be productive during the day and safe in the way you conduct that business.

Find out more about how our everyday office cleaning service works here.

Secondly, we add continuous microbiological protection (for up to 30 days) with Antimicrobial coatings

Part of our quote will cover the application of Antimicrobial coatings. This is part of what we call a 4-D approach to disinfection. One where we consider your (walls, ceilings, floors, surfaces and the air). It’s also where we provide much higher protection of your office space - one that kills 99.9% of bacteria for up to 30 days.

These aren’t as regular as daily cleaning, because of the cover they provide, but they are important for every commercial space.

Find out more about our Antimicrobial coating service here.

If you have an office space or care home in the Hampshire and Reading area, contact Antoni today for a free consultation and no-obligation quote!