Monday 21 December 2020

Disinfectant Standards – What you need to know


Effective disinfection of surfaces, instruments and hands is critical to minimise infection risks (bacterial, fungal and viral) in hospitals especially during the current global pandemic. This requires the selection of the most appropriate disinfectants, their correct application, and an assessment of their capability to inactivate or kill microorganisms. There is a wide choice of disinfectant formulations available and it is essential to ensure the most appropriate disinfectants are selected for the use for which they are intended and are then used correctly.

This article examines European Norms (EN) in relation to disinfectants, considers the importance of updates to these standards and offers some practical advice on ensuring that accurate comparisons between different disinfectants can be readily made. The main function of a disinfectant lies in its ability to kill or inactivate microorganisms. Therefore, a key step in the selection process is ensuring the disinfectant has the required level of biocidal activity. Disinfectant manufacturers provide efficacy data relating to the two key criteria of contact time and required concentration. This data should be based on product testing which is both rigorous and repeatable. In Europe, this means being tested to the European Norms (EN).

Even with the UK’s departure from the EU, European Norms are likely to continue to provide the ‘gold standard’ tests for disinfectants in the UK, for the foreseeable future.

Sandle, T. (2020) Disinfectant Standards – What you need to know, Clinical Services Journal – COVID-19 Report, Special Edition, October 2020, pp34-37

For a copy, please contact Tim Sandle

Posted by Dr. Tim Sandle, Pharmaceutical Microbiology Resources (

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