Disinfecting Wipes vs. Sprays

14th Jul 2021

Disinfecting Wipes vs. Sprays

You have so many different cleaning products to choose from, the distinctions between all your options may get a little fuzzy. It's easy to think that all cleaning products do the same work, but in reality, that's not the case. Products like Clorox wipes or spray and Lysol wipes or spray function differently and may even have different effectiveness.

In places like gyms, daycares, schools and offices, proper disinfecting and sanitation practices can prevent disease and even save lives. Businesses use a range of products to clean, from hand sanitizing stations to disinfectant wipes, sprays and aerosol mists.

Education on cleaning procedures is the key to keeping people safe. Learn more about disinfectants and the benefits of disinfectant wipes versus sprays.

What's a Disinfectant?

A disinfectant is a product that kills germs. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulates which products can identify as a disinfectant to uphold public health and safety standards. Sanitizer products clean and sanitize surfaces, meaning they reduce the level of germs in a given area to a safe amount. Disinfectants have higher standards because they should kill or eliminate 99.999% of germs on a surface. The difference lies in the fact that sanitizers reduce, while disinfectants eliminate.

Sanitizing products are generally safe for use on skin, such as sanitizing hand wipes and gel. Disinfectants use chemicals, like bleach or alcohol, that can dry out the skin and may even transfer chemicals through repeated use on the skin. As a general rule, sanitizing products are for use on skin and delicate surfaces, while disinfectants are only for use on hard, non-porous surfaces.

Another difference between sanitizing and disinfecting products is the kind of germs they kill. Sanitizers are useful for combatting bacteria, but for all other germs, like viruses and fungi, disinfectants are the only way to kill them. That's because disinfectants use a stronger solution, which can eliminate more resistant germs. There are many ways to clean and disinfect surfaces, including:

  • Liquid solutions: Chemicals in liquid form, like bleach, are a common way to disinfect. Often, you mix these products with water to dilute them and use a cloth or mop to disinfect surfaces.
  • Sprays: Spray disinfectants are like liquid solutions, but they are often already diluted and ready to use. They come in spray bottles to distribute the product and need to be wiped away with a towel.
  • Wipes: Disinfectant wipes generally come in rolls or another type of packaging for easy access and act as a towelette that's pre-soaked with a disinfectant product for easy use.
  • Heat: At certain temperatures, heat can act as a disinfectant. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends heating objects at 170 degrees Celsius or 340 degrees Fahrenheit for 60 minutes to properly disinfect them.
  • Light radiation: You can actually use light radiation in the form of ultraviolet-C (UVC) lamps to disinfect surfaces. Note that this light can be harmful to humans. It's best to use UVC within ducts to disinfect the air rather than as a standard disinfecting method.

Disinfectants can kill harmful bacteria, viruses and other germs that cause illnesses and complications in humans. They're ideal for thoroughly cleaning a surface, but which method is best? Disinfectant spray and wipes are some of the most common ways businesses disinfect surfaces, but there are differences even between these two methods.

Disinfecting Sprays

Disinfectant sprays exist in two categories — disinfecting air spray and disinfecting surface spray. Products like air sprays may only advertise that they kill bacteria to neutralize odors, as aerosol sprays are ineffective for killing airborne bacteria and viruses that cause disease. Surface disinfecting sprays are effective at killing bacteria and viruses on hard, non-porous surfaces.

Most products have directions for use that ensure proper disinfection. For spray disinfectants, most directions will indicate the first step as cleaning the surface — dirt and debris can block the disinfectant from doing its job. After you've wiped down the surface, you can disinfect it. For most sprays, you'll need to leave the solution on for a few minutes to let the disinfection work, and then wipe it down with a clean towel or cloth.

Effectiveness of Disinfecting Sprays

When used according to the directions, most disinfectant sprays should be up to 99.999% effective at killing viruses and bacteria. If the product isn't EPA approved or registered, the company cannot guarantee its claims of disinfection. To ensure the safety and effectiveness of disinfecting spray, the EPA recommends following these six steps:

  1. Ensure the product is EPA approved: The EPA uses different lists to detail disinfectant products that effectively kill particular viruses and bacteria.
  2. Wear protection: For strong disinfectants, you may need gloves and other safety coverings like goggles and a mask to protect your skin and eyes. However, most household disinfectants may only require gloves — both to prevent skin reactions and also ensure the surface remains uncontaminated during the cleaning process.
  3. Follow product directions: Pay close attention to where and how you should use the product, as well as any possible harmful interactions with other chemicals or surfaces.
  4. Pre-clean if necessary: If directions list pre-cleaning the surface as one of the steps, be sure to use soap and water or another cleaner that won't produce a harmful reaction with the disinfectant.
  5. Wait the appropriate amount of time: After applying the disinfectant, leave the surface wet for the amount of contact time designated in the instructions. This time is when the disinfecting takes place.
  6. Store products safely: Most disinfectants should be stored in cool and dry places for optimal effectiveness. Additionally, all household cleaners should be stored where children cannot reach them.

Barriers to Effectiveness

While disinfectants like Lysol sprays are effective at killing germs in laboratory settings, certain common barriers make these products less effective than the claims on the packaging. One such barrier is user error. In most cases, people use a disinfectant like they would any other household cleaner — they spray and wipe away immediately. While cleaners may seem intuitive to use, it's always important to read the label to achieve maximum effectiveness.

Another barrier involves instantly re-contaminating the surface with a dirty rag. Many people use an old towel to wipe up disinfectant while cleaning without realizing that towel may instantly re-contaminate the surface. Even if they use paper towels, germs can populate on those, especially if they are exposed to the air for long periods of time. Both cloths and paper towels also have the added nuisance of leaving behind lint and debris after cleaning.

Applications of Disinfecting Sprays

Disinfectant sprays have a host of applications, but be sure to check the label to ensure the product is safe to use on the surface you want to clean.

Gyms

Gyms often offer rags or paper towels and spray disinfectants for users to clean their machines before and after use. Providing cleaning materials is a great way to get customers involved in safety precautions and help them feel safer in the gym.

Daycares and Schools

Kids bring germs to school, making these locations significant players in the spread of disease. Disinfectant sprays help clean high-touch surfaces like desks and tables, as well as certain toys and playground equipment to ensure children's safety.

Food Service

Certain disinfecting products are safe to use around food preparation, but not all are. On the EPA's List N, the designation "food contact" means the product is safe to use around food. However, some products may require a post-disinfecting rinse to wash away most of the chemicals.

Disinfecting Wipes

Disinfecting wipes come in containers with pre-soaked towelettes. They usually come with a dispensing container of their own, and some companies offer larger dispensers that hold hundreds of wipes. Wipes are an easy, convenient alternative to disinfecting sprays, and they are a great way to ensure hard surfaces are clean and sanitary.

Both disinfectant spray and wipes require users to follow directions for maximum effectiveness, but wipes are more user-friendly. Additionally, comparing Lysol wipes versus spray disinfectants, wipes have a greater range of usage since they don't involve using potentially harmful liquids.

Effectiveness of Disinfecting Wipes

In a recent study comparing the effectiveness of disinfectants like Lysol spray versus wipes, scientists discovered a higher reduction in certain bacteria with the use of wipes over spray disinfectant. They conclude that wipes help reduce the element of human error in disinfecting surfaces, making them a more effective method of disinfection.

Like with disinfecting sprays, wipes have a specific method of use that's most productive in getting the antiviral and antibacterial results:

  1. Clean the surface: Disinfecting products can't cut through dirt or grease, so ensure the area you need to disinfect is clear of debris for maximum results.
  2. Check the wipe's moisture level: Since a wipe's effectiveness comes from the solution it soaks in, it may be less effective if it dries out. Sometimes, the first couple of wipes dry out if the container is left open, but other times, the whole product may be too old.
  3. Wipe down the surface: Make sure the wipe saturates the surface enough that it's visibly wet.
  4. Keep the surface wet: The solution from the wipes should remain on the surface for a while — usually about 30 seconds to four minutes. If the surface begins to dry before the time is up, re-wet it with a new cloth.
  5. Allow the area to air-dry: Unlike spray disinfectants, you can leave the solution from wipes to air-dry once the time is up, unless the surface is coming in contact with food. In that case, you should wipe the area down with a clean cloth after the disinfecting period is complete. 

Barriers to Effectiveness

Wipes are actually some of the easiest disinfectant products to use, so the only barrier would be improper use. Using the same wipe to clean a large area is ineffective, as the solution will dissipate. But because the wipe only has so much liquid, most people will notice the lack of moisture and get a new wipe when it's time.

Improper storage could also decrease the effectiveness of wipes due to evaporating solution. Be sure to properly close disinfecting wipe containers after each use, or get a special wipe dispenser to protect your wipes.

Applications of Disinfecting Wipes

Wipes are enormously effective and easy to use, so they have many different applications.

Gyms

While some gyms use spray disinfectants to clean their equipment and machines, that can be a hassle for customers. Gym-goers prefer individual wipes for various reasons, but most of all, the ease and convenience means they don't have to take time out of their workout to clean down their equipment. With wipes, they can keep their heart rate up and move quickly on to the next exercise.

Daycares and Schools

Teachers are busy enough as it is, so disinfecting wipes are great for use in daycares and schools because they save precious time. Additionally, older children may even be capable of handling wipes independently, whereas only adults should have access to the disinfecting spray since it can be harmful.

Offices

Even though offices have less risk of disease spread than schools and gyms, it's still heavily advisable to implement proper disinfecting procedures there. Employees should clean high-touch areas like elevator buttons, handrails, counters, pens and breakrooms a few times a day at least, ideally after each use.

Healthcare Facilities

With sick and injured people walking in and out of healthcare facilities all day, disinfecting procedures are crucial. Wiping down surfaces in waiting rooms and exam rooms can prevent the spread of disease and help keep patients safe and healthy.

Retail

In grocery stores and shopping centers, disinfecting wipes can help keep carts clean when transferring them between customers. Additionally, they're great for use in wiping down checkout counters quickly in between customers. Wipes help employees clean quicker so customers can get in and out of the store efficiently. 

Are Wipes or Sprays Better for My Business?

Even though scientific evidence points to wipes being more effective at disinfecting surfaces, many businesses still rely exclusively on spray disinfectants. Their use, however, can be problematic for both customers and employees. Wipes are the best choice for so many products and spaces, such as:

  • Electronics: Liquid spray disinfectants can harm electronics, making wipes a more effective cleaning method in offices and businesses that use computers. Even gym machines and credit card readers are sensitive to the added liquid of spray disinfectant.
  • Doorknobs: While spray surface cleaners work well on flat areas, they might be less effective anywhere else since the spray pattern may not cover the whole surface. A disinfectant wipe allows you to clean things like doorknobs, hand railings, pens and handles effectively and with ease.
  • Gyms: While many gyms often use spray disinfectants, people may not consider the fact that everyone must touch the disinfectant spray bottle. So, even while the machines get clean, the spread of germs can still take place through all patrons having to touch the bottle.
  • Schools: Daycares and schools need to keep harmful substances out of reach of children. Wipes can be easier to store away from students, as teachers and cleaning staff won't need to carry around a bottle of spray disinfectant.
  • Factories: In spaces where there's a high concentration of people working, like factories, it doesn't make sense to purchase a bottle of disinfectant for every person to use. Instead, having multiple wipe dispenser stations is a safer and more cost-effective way for employees to clean and disinfect their stations.

An added benefit of wipes over sprays is that they can be mobile. No one wants to carry around a spray bottle throughout the day to wipe down surfaces. Wipes can come in smaller packaging, and they're easily usable and disposable, meaning they're perfect for vacation, errands and anywhere on the go.

Additionally, as studies indicate, wipes have a lower margin for error. In contrast, people frequently misuse spray disinfectants — either because they don't let the solution sit on the area for long enough, or they re-contaminate the surface by using an old towel to wipe it up with.

What if My Business Already Uses Spray Disinfectant?

We certainly wouldn't recommend throwing your new bottles of disinfectant away so you can switch to wipes, but you won't regret transitioning your business to using wipes. Spray disinfectants are expensive and have specific disadvantages for businesses looking to keep their customers safe without spending a fortune. You'd have to continually purchase paper towels or launder cleaning cloths to dry spray disinfectant solution after every use.

If you're wondering whether Lysol spray or wipes are better for your gym or health facility, just think about all the high-touch surfaces in your business. Customers touch equipment, doorknobs, handles and counters countless times a day. Something else they all touch? The disinfectant spray bottle — except almost no one thinks to clean that after each use. Wipes eliminate the need to touch another surface to disinfect an area, making them a safer choice for gyms and health facilities.

The cost of disinfectant spray versus wipes is a big factor in your decision, especially for small businesses that need to cut costs wherever they can. While wipes from the grocery store may be more expensive, buying wipes in bulk can save you money in the long run and keep you stocked for longer periods. Additionally, liquid disinfectant bottles can spill or break, losing you a week or more's worth of cleaner in one go.

Choose Wipes for Your Business

Sprays are good for individual home use, but in businesses where it's essential to be efficient and safe, disinfecting wipes are the best choice. Because of user error and impatience, spray disinfectants are often not able to disinfect properly, whereas wipes can because they don't usually require the additional step of cleaning up the extra liquid. Air-drying disinfectant solution means dirty towels won't contaminate the clean surface, so you can feel confident in the cleaning power of your wipes.

Buy Disinfecting Wipes in Bulk From Wipes.com

If you're considering transitioning from spray disinfectant to wipes, look no further than Wipes.com. We have a huge quantity of disinfecting wipes for any business. All of our products are EPA registered, meaning they pass rigorous testing and are scientifically proven to kill viruses and bacteria. Plus, while other wipe containers have around 80 to 100 wipes, ours contain 800, so you won't have to replace or refill wipes every day.

The strong fabric won't tear while you're cleaning, and our packs of wipes fit into our sleek wipe dispensers, so you don't have to worry about cleaning supplies interrupting the aesthetics of your facility. Additionally, our wipes ship from one of two distribution centers, so you can get your cleaning supplies faster.

Since wipes are scientifically proven to work better than spray disinfectants, there's no better time than now to switch your facility to disinfectant wipes from Wipes.com. Order online today or contact a customer service representative for a quote on your bulk wipe orders.