Although healthcare facilities, schools, retail stores and gyms across the United States are providing disinfectant wet wipes, jan/san distributors say users aren’t necessarily allowing for proper dwell times to be met. In 2011, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) began requiring manufacturers of wet wipes to modify label instructions to ensure end users give the product the proper dwell time.

Manufacturers are now required to state on the product’s label that surfaces must remain “visibly wet” for the prescribed contact time in order to ensure disinfection. Often, end users are under the impression that simply wiping a surface and walking away is sufficient for disinfecting, distributors say. Improper disinfecting can lead to cross-contamination, a dangerous problem in most facilities, but especially in healthcare.

Larry Johnson, product manager with S. Freedman & Sons Inc., in Landover, Md., says even though correct procedures are printed on the container, they’re not always read and followed. Dwell time is often not met with users of wet wipes. In fact, signage supplied by manufacturers does not always address dwell time and its importance.

“Proper training is always a key factor in cleaning, but this usually does not happen for consumers walking into a store that has wipes available for them to use,” says Johnson.

Distributors can help educate facilities and their customers on the importance of dwell time by providing additional signage. For example, if a product requires the wet product to sit on a surface for a predetermined amount of time, that should be called out so when a customer grabs a wet wipe, they follow the required directions.

Dwell time and proper disinfection also is at risk if the wet wipes are not being stored properly.

“Wipes will dry out if the carton is left open,” says Glen Huizenga, sales manager with Nichols Inc., Spring Lake, Mich. “As they dry out, the wipes ability to be wet enough to wipe the surface and keep the surface wet is a problem.”

When used as directed, distributors say wet wipes have been effective. Although they are not recommended for an entire cleaning program, they serve a great purpose in keeping people healthy in any facility.