Surface Disinfection: Alcohol-Based or Water-Based?

BIOSPRAY Surface Disinfectant

If there was one thing everyone was talking about in 2020, it was surface disinfection. From the moment the novel coronavirus made its first appearance, surface sanitizing was a top of mind for almost every industry. You may be shocked to hear that more than 600,000 bacteria live on one square inch of human skin[i]. For humans, most bacteria are harmless. But species that cause diseases, called pathogens, may be harmful or even fatal.

For the average consumer, any sanitizer they could get their hands on seemed sufficient to clean and disinfect. For others with specific applications, the need for an efficient, safe, and cost-effective way to keep employees and visitors safe requires specialized solutions. This may include being safe for food contact-surfaces, quick-drying due to sensitive electronics areas, or many other reasons.

While many conversations have shifted from surface sanitation and disinfection to air purification, the reality is that surface cleaning and disinfection is still crucial. Ongoing maintenance of healthy workplaces and production environments requires surface sanitation and disinfection solutions.

Most sanitizers fall into one of two categories: water-based or alcohol-based. Alcohol-based sanitizers and disinfectants work best in specific environments. High traffic locations, sensitive electronics, healthcare or critical care environments, and anywhere quick-drying action is required. Water-based sanitizers and disinfectants work best for general

disinfection needs when surfaces can remain wet for up to 10 minutes.

Water-Based Sanitizers

If your applications are less time-sensitive, then a more affordable water-based solution might be better suited. More often than not, water-based sanitizers have longer “kill” claim times and require surfaces to remain wet for extended periods.

In addition to the protection against disease, water-based sanitizers can offer many benefits to users, including safe for use on food contact surfaces, HVAC system components, etc. These disinfectants can also be applied using portable disinfectant sprayers or chemical fogging systems. Water-based sanitizers are perfect for location when dwell times can be longer.

When to Use Water-Base Sanitizers

Water-Based sanitizers are best for general surfaces and those environments where surfaces can remain wet. Refer to the product label for specific information on application rates and approved applications.

Alcohol-Based Sanitizers

There are a variety of alcohol-based sanitizers on the market today – and thanks to COVID-19, the number of products to choose from can be overwhelming.

Alcohol-based sanitizers and disinfectants are very potent and can quickly reduce the number of active microbes or viruses on a surface. They dry quickly, offer excellent sanitation and disinfection properties, and are generally safe on sensitive electronic surfaces like scales, machinery, computers, kiosks, and more. Also, high traffic areas that may require quick drying disinfectants like door handles, security panels, and more.

They have been used to clean and disinfect surfaces everywhere, from large, public office buildings to hospitals to restaurants. Alcohol-based disinfectants are also the product of choice within the healthcare, dental, veterinary, and ambulatory environments due to their high efficacy and quick-drying characteristics.

When to Use Alcohol-Base Sanitizers

Simply put, you can use alcohol-based sanitizers in virtually every setting. Organizations like the CDC, FDA, and WHO all encourage using alcohol-based sanitizers to clean all manner of surfaces. In fact, alcohol is still the most-used type of disinfectant in today’s hospitals.

If you’re going to use alcohol to clean your office or other space, it is essential to make sure you’re using a solution appropriate for the application. Refer to the product labels for specific application environments and rates. Food production environments should be careful to use products approved for use in food-contact environments. In contrast, healthcare environments should focus on disinfection efficacy. Office, educational, and other general settings can utilize a variety of choices in alcohol-based disinfectants.

This could all feel very intimidating, but luckily we have just the solution. Check out our Sanitation & Disinfection Buying Guide to find which one will be your perfect solution.



[i] Science Clarified. “We Are Surrounded.”

Ambulance Safety: 4 Tips for Vehicle Fleet Disinfection

EMS Fleet Disinfection

One of the essential jobs in any community is first responders. In particular, medical first responders deliver life-saving treatment to victims of fires, car accidents, or severe health problems – all while putting their own lives at risk to help their community. This is particularly true in 2020, as the COVID-19 crisis has put first responders and EMS workers at greater risk of infection than many have ever experienced before.

When ambulances transport patients with the new coronavirus, they risk spreading the virus to their next patient – or contracting the virus themselves. The highly contagious nature of this virus has taken a severe toll on EMS workers. For example, some 20% of ambulance workers in New York City have been out sick due to the virus this year.

In light of these recent dangers, the CDC has changed their First Responder Guidance, making it stricter and more focused on containing the infection. Implementing these guidelines is vital to keeping first responder medical personnel – and follow-on hospital personnel safe.

Here are a few critical tips for properly disinfecting your ambulance.

Create and Implement a Cleaning Routine

In May 2020, the scientific journal Heliyon published the results of a survey of EMS workers across the United States. The researchers had asked these individuals about their agency’s COVID-19 response, focusing on PPE use and adherence to social distancing.

Their results were troubling: 36% of respondents said they had received no training about COVID-19 at all! The survey authors suggested that this lack of training lead to a lack of cleaning protocol – in turn, contributing to the spread of the virus.

If you want to contain the spread of COVID-19 within your EMS team, creating easy-to-follow cleaning and disinfection protocols is essential. Then, make sure to implement that protocol (and make sure EVERYONE follows it). Design a routine that is easy to remember and include in your daily tasks and set up a system that holds your providers accountable for cleaning during their shift.

Thorough, routine cleanings (of both the patient compartment and the front cabin) after every call is the best way to prevent COVID-19 from spreading to both patients and EMS providers.

Wear PPE Properly

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is an essential tool in the fight against COVID-19. EMS providers must have access to N95 masks, gloves, disposable gowns, and other critical PPE to protect them should they encounter an infected patient. However, proper PPE isn’t just about having access to these tools – it is also essential to learn how to use them.

While PPE is an important part of training for emergency personnel, making sure that it is worn correctly, and disposed of is a team effort. Ensure your team members wear their PPE on all calls where a patient is infected (or suspected to be infected) with COVID-19. In fact, providers should wear their PPE ensemble during the disinfection process as well. Only after the ambulance is clean and disinfected should your providers remove and dispose of their PPE.

Clean and Disinfect Your Vehicle and Equipment

An EMS provider needs to be ready to jump into action at a moment’s notice. This means that they need to be alert, prepared to work, and have clean, disinfected tools as often as possible – including the ambulance itself. This is especially important during the pandemic, as an unclean or improperly cleaned vehicle could contribute to the spread of COVID-19.

Vehicle cleaning must be done quickly between calls. Ensure your providers know the fastest ways to clean their patient compartment, cabin, and equipment thoroughly. If possible, work with your county to set up a cleaning team (like these counties in Maryland did to speed up their cleaning process). These steps will ensure that your vehicles are ready for the next call as soon as possible.

However, thorough cleaning isn’t the only thing you need to be ready for patients. It’s also essential to use disinfectants across all exposed surfaces and choose options – such as alcohol-based disinfectants and systems – that can be used on sensitive electronic surfaces. Using water-based or non-alcohol based solutions can seep into electronics causing damage, or miscalculation. That’s when portable alcohol-based sanitation system solutions are most effective for ambulance contamination – particularly ones that neutralize viral contaminants like COVID-19.

Clean and Disinfect the Vehicle’s HVAC System

Finally, we come to the most important thing you can do to protect both patients and ambulance staff: clean your ambulance’s HVAC system. There is a wealth of evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can spread through the air, and poorly ventilated closed spaces can exacerbate the spread. This includes office buildings, stores, restaurants, and even vehicles.

When you clean and disinfect your ambulance, it is crucial to open the vehicle doors and allow for airflow exchange. It’s also critical to disinfect your HVAC system with a solution that will eliminate viral contaminants and is EPA registered for use in HVAC systems. This will prevent COVID-19 from hiding in your HVAC system, only to infect patients when the car starts running again.

Health experts believe that COVID-19 will be with us for quite some time. Businesses and individuals will need to be vigilant to protect themselves and others – and individuals working in healthcare and the first response will need to be even more so. Therefore, disinfecting protocols, PPE use, and portable surface sanitation systems are essential to providing emergency medical services safely and effectively.

Next Steps:

Learn more about alcohol-based disinfection systems.


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