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VERIFY: Does the efficiency of disinfectants depend on contact time?

A viewer asked our VERIFY team if disinfectant contact time on surfaces matters. Experts say it does, but some cleaning is better than nothing.

TOLEDO, Ohio — When it comes to fending off the coronavirus, experts have been preaching good hygiene and washing surfaces often.

But some of you are asking questions tonight about proper disinfecting practices.

Constant cleaning has been drilled into our heads during this pandemic — but is it as simple as spray and wipe?

A viewer with a background in infection control wrote to us saying she was taught the efficacy of disinfectant wipes and sprays was based on the contact time.

We turned to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for information and found a six-step guide to proper disinfectant use.

The EPA says you should, in fact, follow the contact time on the bottle, and "the surface should remain wet the whole time to ensure the product is effective."

Credit: WTOL

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So that's VERIFIED: the contact time does matter

But ProMedica Dr. Brian Kaminski argues perfection isn't always possible and some cleaning is better than none at all.

"I think if any one of us took out the manual for our dishwasher or looked at the operator's manual for our car that we drive, we would find that there are some things that we are doing that aren't exactly correct as it pertains to operating that device," Kaminski said.

On top of that, Dr. Kaminski said we should all remember there are alternative options to stay safe while going out.

"I think the other thing to point out is that as consumers, we have a choice," he said. "So if you walk into an establishment, whether it be a restaurant or a grocery store, and you see practices that you feel don't meet your expectations and are unsafe, then you have a choice. You can leave and go to a different establishment."