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CHSA Publishes Advice on How to Select the Right Cleaning Products

29 September 2020

Choosing which cleaning chemicals to use during the COVID-19 pandemic can be a difficult task amid “plenty of extraordinary product claims” according to the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association.

Recently, a cleaning product manufacturer that supplies Transport for London and Govia Thameslink had to withdraw claims that its sanitiser could protect surfaces against germs for 30 days. Similarly, Mitie’s claims of providing the UK’s first cleaning service with a chemical-free cleaning product proven to kill COVID-19 on surfaces for six months was called into question.

Nicky Biggart, UK Janitorial Sales Manager of the Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA) member Evans Vanodine, and Chris Ryan, Head of International Business at the British Institute of Cleaning Science (BICSc) answered common cleaning product procurement questions during a CHSA webinar.

Here are some of the highlights from that Q & A session:


What are the Testing Methods for Hand Sanitiser?


The European Chemical Agency (ECHA) EN 1500 test method assesses hand gels and rinses with a 30 second contact time. It has found formulations should contain greater than 80 per cent ethanol or greater than 60 per cent isopropyl alcohol (IPA).

However, to increase supply in the face of exceptional demand across the globe, the World Health Organisation (WHO) defined a number of hand sanitiser recipes producers can use to meet standards. These defined an effective alcohol-based hand sanitiser as containing more than 60 per cent alcohol (ethanol, IPA or a mixture).

Hand sanitisers developed and manufactured pre-COVID under the BPR (Biocidal Product Regulation) adhere to EN 1500. According to the European Chemical Agency’s (ECHA) Article 55 derogation, if the company is using the WHO recommended formula, no testing is required, at present. 

The UK Government and WHO will review the decision to allow any manufacturer to produce hand sanitiser on 29 September 2020. 


Is There a Product Proven to Kill Coronavirus? 


Coronavirus is a large family of enveloped viruses. There are animal and human coronaviruses and the family includes SARs and MERS. SARs-Cov-2 is the virus name of this current outbreak and COVID-19 is the name of the disease it causes. 

The SARS-Cov-2 virus has not been released for testing, so any claim on a product stating it is proven to kill the virus is untrue. 

The Vaccinia virus is from the same family of enveloped viruses. The closest surrogate, it is expected to behave in the same way as SARs-COV-2 and so has been used to test the virucidal efficacy of products. This approach has been agreed by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and is underwritten by EN 14476. 



Picture: a photograph of a gloved hand wiping a touchpoint on a building's door


Which Products are Effective? 


The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) requires all claims on product labels to be supported by test results and that those test results are appropriate to the area of application. Products stamped with EN 14476 have been tested against the Vaccinia virus and so can claim effectiveness against coronavirus. Bleach products are also included based on the GOV.UK guidelines which state 1000ppm chlorine will be effective. 


Some Products Claim Residual Effects? Is This Legitimate?


Once an area has been cleaned and disinfected with a quaternary ammonium compound (QAC) product there will be some residual effect. However, as soon as a contaminate enters the space, cleaning is needed. 

Contaminates include simply an open window or a person entering the area. We [the CHSA] are not aware of any test data supporting a residual effect in the presence of such a contaminate.


Does Fogging and Misting Work? 


The WHO does not recommend fogging and misting because there is no known relevant test data. Test data exists for the efficacy of quaternary ammonium compound (QAC) applied via mopping, trigger sprays, etc but not when applied via a fogging or misting device. We do not know the impact of the product being dispersed on a larger scale in a closed environment on people’s respiratory systems or the consequences of potential ingestion. There is no substitute for the two-stage approach of first cleaning and then disinfecting. 

Fogging and misting should only be used as an additional safeguard and then only following completion of a thorough risk assessment. Testing of fogging and misting is taking place at the moment. Only when the data is available, and we understand more about the efficacy of the product applied in this way should fogging and misting be considered.


Phrases Like “Environmentally Friendly”, “Natural Ingredients” “Biocide Free”, “QAC Free” are Being Used to Promote Disinfectant Cleaning Products. Are These Products Effective?


 Yes. Each product has had to be investigated and approved to secure the relevant EN standard. If, however, you are uncertain or the product labelling does not clearly state the relevant EN number, request to see the test data and safety data sheet.

 If this is not possible, request to review the product’s microbiological profile. This should always be readily available. Every approved product has the test data in the form of a microbiological profile. If this is not readily available, it suggests the product claims are not substantiable. 


Are There Risks Associated with the Number of Cleaning Chemicals Being Used in Workplaces? 


The products being used are professional chemicals. It is imperative users are fully trained and strictly adhere to the stated contact times and dilutions, as those are the specific parameters to which the product is tested. The onus is on the employer to conduct a full risk assessment and ensure all users are fully trained prior to the use of these chemicals. 

This is particularly important in the current environment as there are many people who might not have used these products before. For example, teachers may be asked to disinfect multiple touchpoints between classes. 

Picture: a photograph of various cleaning mop buckets

Article written by Ella Tansley | Published 29 September 2020


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