"Not all disinfectants are created equal," adds Sawchuk. "Some may kill bacteria and viruses but do little against mold or fungus."

To simplify training on when and where to use chemicals, managers are encouraged to review the product labels, tech sheets and safety data sheets. These will outline how to use the products, what they protect against and highlight any safety measures that should be taken.

"If you hope to kill more virulent things, like Tuberculosis, the tech sheet will outline whether the product will kill it," Fellows says. "If Tuberculosis is not listed, for example, you need to replace that product with one that does fight Tuberculosis."

As cleaning managers select products that fight COVID-19, Hicks warns that overlooking what's on the label can spell big problems later.

"Selecting a product that kills COVID-19 is a really low bar. It's an envelope virus that soap and water can destroy," he says. "A disinfectant that says it kills COVID-19 may not be strong enough to kill other microorganisms. For example, during cold and flu season, you want products that kill rhinovirus, enterovirus, RSV, and influenza A and B."

Labels also contain a "soil claim," which is a disclaimer that says the product will kill listed microorganisms on a surface with 5 percent soil. Surfaces that aren't cleaned first will likely exceed this 5 percent soil requirement for a disinfectant to be used effectively.

Custodians who spray disinfectant on surfaces before cleaning them first "aren't killing anything because the soil on the surface insulated microorganisms from the disinfectant," stresses Hicks. "If the surface exceeds 5 percent soil, you're using the disinfectant off-label."

Labels also typically list safe surfaces for products. This is important to note because there are some disinfectants that have a very low or high pH, which can dull and even damage surfaces, Sawchuk says.

Also check the label to see if disinfectants need a clear water rinse after use.

"If the label says to rinse the surface and you do not rinse, you're not following label instructions and are not disinfecting properly," says Sawchuk. "You could be leaving the surface in an unsafe condition."

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