Comparing Sanitizing Wipes and Disinfecting Wipes

The EPA and FDA regulates different products that kill microorganisms or stops their growth. It can be easy to confuse these products and safety regulations but doing so can have dangerous consequences. At Dreumex, we want to ensure you make the best decision for your business.


(U.S. Environmental Protection Agency)Although the general public doesn’t think of a disinfectant product as a pesticide, according to the EPA, it is. The EPA has strict regulations for products and requires all new products to submit an extensive amount of data to provide evidence of efficacy to support intended claims.

It’s important for users to look for an EPA number on the label of the sanitizing or disinfecting wipes they are buying. If found, this is a clear sign that the wipes ARE NOT to be used as a personal care wipe such as a hand sanitizing wipe or baby wipe (not intended for use on the skin or body). This also means that the skin or hands should most likely be rinsed after use. (see product label for specific instructions).


(U.S. Food and Drug Administration)Items such as drugs and antiseptics are controlled by the FDA. These products are safe for the skin and are used on living organisms. Products, such as hand sanitizing wipes, that claim they are improving your health are required to have an NDC number on the label.

Commonly, you’ll find hand sanitizing wipes at the entrance of your local grocery store or around the meat coolers to prevent cross contamination when handling packages. We encourage you to always read the package labels before using wipes to determine the intended use. Often times, a wipes canister may be hidden in a dispenser without visible instructions for use. This can be troublesome for users as surface wipes are often confused and used on the skin to kill bacteria and viruses instead of their intended purpose for nonporous hard surfaces, or vice versa.

The EPA and the FDA require that sanitizers and disinfectants be properly labeled with their ingredients and intended uses.

Sanitizing Wipes vs. Disinfecting Wipes

Hard surface sanitizing wipes only reduce 99.99 percent of bacteria on surfaces in 30 seconds to 5 minutes. They are required to pass the Official Detergent Sanitizer Test (sometimes known as the Weber and Black Test) to back up the bacteria kill claims made on the product label.

Also, hard surface sanitizing wipes often require pre-cleaning with a detergent before use and if not done, can render the sanitizing formula ineffective. Hard surface sanitizing wipes cannot kill fungi, mold, mildew and viruses. Sanitizing a surface means you’re reducing microorganisms to levels considered safe.

The current CORRECT practice with hard surface sanitizing wipes is: pre-clean, rinse, sanitize.

1-2 minute(s) to pre-clean + 1 minute to properly rinse + ≤ 5 minute(s) to sanitize.

Hard surface disinfecting wipes destroy bacteria, fungi and viruses in 10 minutes or less of application and prevent new bacteria from forming. They take longer to work but are the only way to guarantee that all types of germs are eliminated.  They also prevent cross contamination which often contributes to mass outbreaks in many industries.

Disinfecting wipes are preferred in healthcare settings because 100% certainty is required when it comes to destroying or irreversibly inactivating fungi and viruses.

The common practice with hard surface disinfecting wipes is:  clean/disinfect. Many disinfectant formulas are a one-step cleaner/disinfectant. No rinse formulas are being introduced to the market.

≤ 10 minute(s) to clean & disinfect.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you are considering which product to use:

  • Always read the label carefully before you buy a product and make sure the product is intended for your specific use.
  • Re-read the label before each use. Do not rely on your memory.
  • Do not assume a product purchased for one purpose can be used in another setting without first checking the label. Many products have similar names and ingredients despite being intended for very different uses.
  • Never remove the label from the container or use any product that is unlabeled.
  • Determine the amount of time available to allow the product to ‘dwell’ on a surface. Dwell time is VERY important for any product to do its job. Whether you’re choosing a sanitizing wipe or a disinfecting wipe, it must be given the time it needs to be effective.

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