The 2020 pandemic has highlighted the importance of hygienic standards and general cleaning protocol. This heightened focus on cleaning and disinfecting has brought a new set of words to the forefront of the global lexicon. But many (if not most) of these words are often misused and misrepresented. To create and follow an effective cleaning protocol and to keep yourself and your common spaces clean, it’s absolutely critical to understand the true meaning of these commonly used, but often misunderstood words. The Everwipe™ team has created and refined the “Disinfectant Dictionary” to provide some added clarity and hopefully make it just a little bit simpler to create and follow effective cleaning protocols. We will continue to add to, and refine this list; please reach out if you’d like to see us add any new words!
The Disinfectant Dictionary:
Antibacterial: Any substance or mixture of substances intended to destroy, eliminate, reduce, mitigate or control the growth or development of bacteria in the inanimate environment.
Antimicrobial: An agent that destroys or inhibits the growth or reproduction of bacteria, fungi, protozo, or pathogenic viruses.
Antimicrobial pesticide: A pesticide [substance or mixture of substances] that is intended to disinfect, sanitize, reduce, or mitigate growth or development of microbiological organisms; or protect inanimate objects, industrial processes or systems, surfaces, water, or other chemical substances from contamination, fouling, or deterioration caused by bacteria, viruses, fungi, protozoa, algae, or slime (FIFRA § 2 (mm)).
Antiseptic: A drug product applied topically to the skin to help prevent infection or to help prevent cross contamination (FDA Tentative Final Monograph for Healthcare Drug Products, 1994). Antiseptic products are applied on or in the living body of man or other animals. Antiseptic products are not identified as pesticides and are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.
Biocide (also germicide): A substance that has the ability to kill microorganisms. When a killing action is implied, the suffix –cide (e.g. biocide, bactericide, virucide, etc.) is used, while –static (e.g. bacteriostatic, virostatic, etc.) is added when an organism’s growth is merely inhibited or it is prevented from multiplying.
Deodorizer: A substance or mixture of substances, that are of two basic types:
- those that intended to prevent, reduce, or delay the formation of odors by acting upon microorganisms which produce them, and
- those that intended to mask, chemically destroy, or neutralize odors.
Products that claim deodorization by antimicrobial means are subject to registration as
Detergent: A substance that serves to disperse and remove soil and organic material from surfaces allowing a disinfectant to reach and destroy microbes within and beneath dirt. These products also reduce surface tension and increase the penetrability of water, thereby allowing more organic matter to be removed from surfaces. Quaternary ammonium compound disinfectants have detergent properties.
Disinfectant: A substance or mixture of substances intended to destroy or irreversibly inactivate bacteria, fungi, or viruses on surfaces or inanimate objects. (FIFRA § 4(i)(4)(C)(iii))
Fungicide: A substance or mixture of substances intended to destroy fungi (including yeasts) and/or fungal spores.
A substance or mixture of substances intended to be effective in the presence of light to moderate soil without a pre-clean step in the use directions.
Preservative A substance or mixture of substances intended to inhibit the growth of microorganisms capable of causing biological deterioration of a substance(s)/material(s).
Quaternary Ammonium Compounds: Substances derived from the ammonium cation, NH4+, with one or more hydrogen atoms being replaced by organic groups, and for most purposes prepared as a salt.
Sanitizer: A substance or mixture of substances intended to reduce the number of microorganisms on inanimate surfaces, in water or air. (FIFRA § 4(i)(4)(C)(i))
Virucide: A substance or mixture of substances that destroys or irreversibly inactivates viruses in the inanimate environment.