Decoding Disinfectants : Make an Informed Decision

Cleaning and disinfecting have become a front line defense to keep all of us safe from bacteria and viruses. During this current COVID-19 health crisis, there has been an increased demand for cleaning and surface disinfecting products. Public fear of germs and bacteria is at an all-time high. This has led to the increased production of these products to try and keep up with the market demands.

Most disinfecting products claim to eliminate 99.99% of bacteria and viruses. However, many experts question the effectiveness of these claims and make an appeal to choose a disinfectant carefully. The type of active ingredient along with the additional ingredients vary across disinfectant brands, each with varying levels of effectiveness. Some disinfectants are appropriate for particular surfaces whereas others are not. This makes it difficult for consumers to make informed decisions.

In this article, we’ll go over what’s out there, and what’s best for you, and your spa or clinic in the fight against COVID-19. This information will help you to make an informed decision to choose the right disinfectant for your needs. Read on for more information.

What are the different types of disinfectants?

The active ingredient within a disinfectant gives it the ability to eliminate bacteria and viruses. The additional ingredients aid the active ingredient. Together the chemical agents work to kill pathogens. There are a few different active ingredients a disinfectant can have. The following are the most common:

Alcohol – Alcohol-based disinfectants are diluted with water and additional ingredients. The concentration of alcohol must remain high in order to effectively disinfect wet surfaces. Alcohol does evaporate quickly, so additional ingredients are added to keep the surface wet enough to allow enough time to disinfect. Alcohol is flammable, so care needs to be taken when handling and storing.

Aldehydes – At a high part per million (ppm), Aldehydes are highly effective for disinfecting. Long contact time is necessary for eliminating bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Although, some bacteria have developed a resistance to Aldehydes. Additionally, they will leave a slightly greasy residue after disinfection.

Chlorine – Chlorine-based disinfectants are highly effective and work quickly, but keep in mind it is also highly corrosive. If used incorrectly, it may damage the surface and cause skin irritation. Chlorine is a good option for disinfecting bodily fluids on a surface.

Hydrogen Peroxide – Usually hydrogen peroxide needs to be mixed with other ingredients for it to be effective enough to disinfect. At high concentrations, hydrogen peroxide is dangerous.

Phenols – Health Canada considers phenols as a potentially hazardous material and must be disposed of properly. Phenols are corrosive and toxic, it is these attributes that disinfect a surface.

Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (Quats) – Hospitals use disinfectants that contain Quats because it disinfects quickly and eliminates a broad spectrum of bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Disinfectants containing Quats are cost-effective.

What to consider when choosing a disinfectant?

When deciding if a disinfectant is right for your needs, you should consider 4 things:

  • Is this disinfectant effective against the microbes you need to eliminate?
  • How long does it take to properly disinfect (kill time)?
  • Is this disinfectant safe to use – are there any precautions or dangers?
  • How easy it is to use, and can it be used on all surfaces that need disinfection?


It is important to identify the harmful microbes you need to disinfect – disinfectants do not provide protection against every harmful microorganism. If you are worried about a particular virus, for example, COVID-19, you will want to select a disinfectant that has antiviral properties and has evidence of eliminating that virus. In 2020, that is everyone’s main concern. We highly recommend searching through Health Canada’s database of disinfectants likely to be effective against COVID-19. You can search the database using a Drug Identification Number (DIN) found in the product description on our website or on the disinfectant label. You can also search by product name.

Kill time & ease of use

To properly disinfect, the surface must remain wet for a period of time. Depending on the type of disinfectant you are using & the pathogen you are targeting, it might take 10 minutes of wet contact to fully disinfect. Therefore, the surface must remain wet for the full 10 minutes – make sure it doesn’t evaporate before then. Depending on the industry and services your business provides, a long disinfecting time isn’t an option. You need to disinfect and clean the space as quickly as possible for the next client. In this case, you will want to choose a disinfectant with a fast kill time.

Use the right disinfectant - not necessarily the harshest.

You may be tempted to use the harshest disinfectants in a bid to kill pathogens. Some disinfecting products are toxic and dangerous if used improperly. Familiarize yourself with the precautionary language associated with disinfecting products to ensure you & your clients are not being exposed to unintended side effects which could include skin irritation, respiratory issues, or necessitate special storage & handling considerations. We recommend the PREempt® & Benefect® lines of disinfectants for general clinic use. While powerful enough to kill pathogens, they are safer for the chemically sensitive & do not harm the environment.

Keeping Your Spa or Clinic Clean During COVID-19

You should follow a variety of procedures to keep your spa or clinic clean and COVID-free.

It is recommended that your patients and staff members wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) when they come in contact with one another to protect both parties. Single-use masks are best.

Showers and toilets should be cleaned daily, and grout and tiles should be scrubbed. You should always spray any handles or piping with disinfectant when cleaning.

When using cloths or sheets for your clients to lie on, these should only be used once per person. Employees should wear gloves when handling dirty laundry, and wash their hands after handling them. Always wash at 60°C with a bleach-based detergent in order to effectively kill germs.

Why are some disinfectants hard to find or are on backorder?

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, the market supply of disinfectants was quickly purchased by consumers, but also requisitioned by Government Health Services – and they are first in line to receive certain disinfectants. To fill the high market demand, manufacturers have increased their production, but are facing supply chain issues themselves. Simple items such as bottles, caps, sprayers, etc. that are required components for the production of finished disinfectant products are hard to come by.

Please remember we are all purchasing the same product, at the same time, for the same delivery window. Like us, traditional health & wellness manufacturers are experiencing the same supply chain and order volume issues. Our team & our suppliers are doing the very best they can in this situation given the challenges in place.

While some clients may stay away from your salon or spa, those that do seek out your services should be assured they are safe in your care. Let your clients know what positive steps you are taking to properly disinfect and sanitize. Keep your disinfectants handy, in plain sight, and use them often. That way your clients can see your words being put to action. It’s a good practice and could also be what distinguishes your business from other salons and spas. Be sure to communicate your practices via your marketing & promotional materials including counter displays, website, and social media.

Disinfectants we recommend:

Benefect Botanical Decon 30 Disinfectant Cleaner

Benefect Decon30

Active Ingredient: Thymol (a natural phenol)

PREempt HLD5 High Level Disinfectant and Sterilant, Approved by Health Canada, Effective Against COVID

PREempt HLD5

Active Ingredient: Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide

Ready to Use Disinfectant Solution

BM-28 Plus Disinfectant

Active Ingredient: Glutaraldehyde (Aldehyde)

Ethanol Based Disinfectant for Medical Instruments

BM-6400 Disinfectant & Cleaner

Active Ingredient: Ethanol (Alcohol)

*We make no claim or recommendation about the medicinal benefits of the products listed in this article. We advise you seek the guidance of your doctor or other qualified health professional with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.