I just read a great article by Kelly Pyrek, “Disinfectants and Surface Compatibility”, in the April addition of Infection Control Today. The article referenced several top experts in surface cleaning and disinfection.   Material compatibility between disinfectants and the surfaces cleaned is not something that is always considered. Pyrek does a great job of bringing this to our attention.

Manufacturers of disinfectants not only have to consider formulating a product that kills germs, they have to think about the performance criteria of the EPA and FDA. All products in this category have contraindications. It is the end users job to determine if the disinfectant will compromise the substrate. There have to be balances between compatibility, efficacy and safety. There will always be trade-offs.

Built environments are very complex due to the mix of surfaces included. One building can have a large number of materials; wood, laminate, stainless steel, plastic and vinyl. As Pyrek stated, all can be reservoirs of dangerous pathogens.   Bacteria and viruses can survive on surfaces for days, weeks and even months. Materials that are assembled and meet with a seam can absorb moisture. These are a breeding ground for microbes and biofilms.

Attention needs to be made to the surface material selected and its compatibility with the disinfectant chosen.   Ask the surface manufacturers questions about their product’s compatibility with disinfectants and cleaners. The answers may save the life of the surfaces in your building and the life of the occupant.