Infection Prevention FAQ with Jim Flieler

By: Jim Flieler, Vice President of Sales, Charlotte Products Ltd.

Infection prevention is having its moment, and it’s about time facilities reassess their protocol. This is why I continue to stress the importance of the five critical security elements of disinfecting. One of these elements is the need to rinse disinfectants in certain situations to prevent ingestion of toxic chemicals. End users often have questions about rinsing after disinfecting. Here I’d like to share some of those frequently asked questions to help your facility improve its infection prevention program.

When do I need to rinse a surface after disinfecting?

You only need to rinse food contact surfaces or any surface or item that could come into contact with a child’s mouth. Food prep and service facilities and any childcare setting with young children will have specific rules and regulations for rinsing. This is actually regulated by the department of public health in local regions, so check with your local department of health for the exact areas within your facility that will need to include a potable water rinse for safe disinfection. 

Why do we need to rinse certain areas but not others?
Disinfectants by their nature have an aggressive chemistry. That means they can be toxic if ingested. You want to make absolutely sure that any surface that could potentially come into contact with a person’s mouth is rinsed of all disinfectant. If a surface will not come into contact with someone’s mouth, such as a keyboard in an office or a toilet seat, then there is not a need to rinse the disinfectant away.

Why rinse a classroom if children don’t eat in that area?

Young children are known to put toys and items in their mouths, or even to mouth surfaces such as tables. This is why it is so important to pay attention to rinsing any disinfectant from a surface a young child may come into contact with.

Are there any additional circumstances where we should rinse a disinfectant after application?

I always recommend a water rinse after disinfectant use in a facility where sensitive people work, live or play. If you have cleaning workers with sensitivities, you should also consider adding a rinse to your infection prevention protocol to make sure their skin does not become irritated. If your facility is frequented by seniors, pregnant women or immunocompromised individuals, a rinse may be necessary.

What type of water should I use to rinse my surface after disinfecting?

Always use potable water. That means water that is safe to drink. The purpose of this rinse is to remove a harmful chemical from a surface because it may be ingested. If you use water that is not drinkable, you will be undoing the work of disinfection, and introducing new harmful microorganisms to the surface for possible ingestion.

How do you recommend I rinse the surface after disinfection?

I recommend using an open charge bucket, a small mini pail with clean water and a clean microfiber cloth. You take a microfiber cloth and wet it and then wipe the surface where the disinfectant was applied. After you have wiped the surface, you can let it air dry or wipe it dry. Change the water as it becomes visibly soiled. 

How long do I have to wait after applying the disinfectant to rinse the surface?

You must respect the dwell time for your disinfectant. The dwell, or contact time, is the amount of time listed on the product label that the surface needs to be wet with the disinfectant. This ensures all pathogens on the surface are killed. Only after the dwell time is achieved can you rinse the surface.

The five critical security elements of disinfecting provide best practices for disinfectant use, which should serve as the foundation for any training program focused on infection prevention protocol. Each of these elements is equally as important in contributing to healthy, safe spaces. We’ve published FAQs for each step HERE.

Have an additional question? Contact an expert at Charlotte Products to ask your question, or learn more about our infection control programs.