What Factors Can Influence the Activity of a Disinfectant?

Written by chelsea fitzgerald
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What Factors Can Influence the Activity of a Disinfectant?
Several factors affect the use of disinfectants. (hand with sponge image by sparkia from Fotolia.com)

Using disinfectants to clean your home or office building can make it a safer environment in which to live or work. The disinfectants kill microbes that may be harmful to your health due to exposure. It is important that you use disinfectants correctly in order for them to work effectively.

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Most disinfectants perform one job and that is to clean the microbes on a relatively clean surface. If the area is grimy or has a large amount of residue on it, the disinfectant properties may not be able to reach the microbes, thus reducing its effectiveness. Preclean the area with an all-purpose cleaner or even a damp paper towel if the area is quite dusty or soiled before using the disinfectant. Do not mix products containing ammonia and bleach, as this can cause toxic fumes.


Read the directions on the disinfectant container to see if he product requires dilution before using it. Generally, using more of the disinfectant simply wastes the product and does not improve the effectiveness. Higher concentrations may damage the surface you are cleaning or cause strong fumes that may affect persons with allergies, asthma conditions or sensitivities.


It is vital that your disinfectant is appropriate for the surface you are cleaning. Bleach may corrode some metal surfaces, and abrasive cleaners may scratch or damage coatings on other exteriors.


Certain disinfectants require that you leave them on the surface for only 30 seconds and others require 10 minutes or longer. It is vital that you read the instructions on the label to allow plenty of time for the disinfectant to do its job.

Expiration Date

Check the expiration date on your disinfectant. This can greatly affect the strength of the product. It may appear to smell and look the same but the disinfecting power may disappear or diminish after the "use by" date. It is wise to discard any product after it expires, particularly if it concerns your health and safety.

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