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The biggest problem with sanitizer is that it is not a disinfectant. That’s right, those terms have very different and specific meanings. And that matters, especially now. Don’t get me wrong, sanitizer is a perfectly good and essential tool in sanitation programs – especially in food service environments, but it is not a power-house like disinfectant.

To better understand the differences, let’s start with a couple of definitions from the EPA.

Disinfectant: Substance or mixture that destroys bacteria, fungi and viruses on inanimate surfaces.

Sanitizer: Substance or mixture that reduces bacteria on inanimate surfaces. Some sanitizers meet public health codes for use on food contact surfaces.

So, what does that mean? One reduces and one destroys. That’s true, but the often overlooked word between these two definitions is viruses. Sanitizers are not effective against viruses. The EPA re-iterated this distinction in a clarification memo last year.

Why is that important, you may ask? Because the current COVID-19 pandemic is caused by a virus. Additionally, other common infectious pathogens such as Influenza, Coronavirus, H1N1 and HIV are all viruses. On the other hand, Staph and E.Coli are examples of bacteria. Understanding the pathogen class – virus or bacteria – is crucial to selecting the proper tool for infection control. The EPA registered label required for all sanitizers and disinfectants lists all pathogens a product is effective against. If on this label you don’t see what you are trying to combat, then that product is not proven effective against that pathogen.

In your efforts to disinfect against a virus, make sure you are using an EPA registered disinfectant effective against viruses – NOT a sanitizer. The easiest way to know if you have a disinfectant is to find the EPA registration number and make sure the label says it does what you want it to. For COVID-19 effectiveness use the EPA List N as your guide.

For more information or questions, contact Caryn Stets at cstets@portionpaccorp.com

EPA Sanitizer Clarification Memo: Link

EPA Article – Registration Numbers: Link

EPA List N: Link

The snow is done falling – we have plowed, shoveled and blown it off walkways and driveways so cars and people can keep moving. And to prevent surfaces from becoming slippery, we have spread ice melt. Inevitably, some of that ice melt comes inside onto the walk off mat or bare floor at the entrance of our buildings. Soon the dreaded white haze takes over, and if left unchecked, entrance mats become saturated and white footprints grow across lobby floors.

Our first instinct is to mop or auto-scrub the floor. The question is, how, with what and why does that matter?

Consider these two scenarios:

A small area to be cleaned or you don’t have an autoscrubber
It is best to use 2 buckets or a dual bucket system. One bucket with neutralizer solution and the other with clean water. Rinse the dirty mop in clean water before placing it back into solution.

Large area to be cleaned with visible ice melt debris
Use an autoscrubber, if you have one. Fill the reservoir with cold water only. Run the autoscrubber over the area to rinse and pick-up snow melt debris. Then, rinse and refill the autoscrubber with neutralizer solution and scrub the floor again.

Why is this process so important?
The answer is related to the surface pH of our floors. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14. 7 is neutral, 0 to 6 is acidic and 8-14 is considered alkaline. To maximize the life of our floors the surface needs to be neutral. If the surface is too far on either extreme, the finish will break down and eventually the underlying floor will become permanently damaged. Snow removal products are alkaline. To get floors to neutral, where they should be, there are products called neutralizers. These products are acidic. Properly applying an acidic solution in sufficient quantity to an alkaline floor will bring it back to neutral. We know how much is enough when the floor dries without a white haze.

For more information or questions, contact Caryn Stets at cstets@portionpaccorp.com