The Benefits of 1-minute Disinfectant Contact Time

(1054 words)

1-minute disinfectant contact time: the key to better productivity in dental practice

The coronavirus epidemic is leading dental practices to focus more on disinfection than ever before.

Government guidelines around sanitisation procedures, best practice and risk management are updated frequently in line with rapidly emerging data around the way the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) is transmitted.

Successful infection control procedures require diligence and persistence and following uncomplicated highly effective solutions.

And the heightened awareness has seen many new disinfectant products arrive in the market, along with all manner of claims about suitability.

Yet in a fast-moving industry fed by continuously updated information, one narrative remains persistently accurate:

‘Biocompatible disinfectants with a 1-minute contact time, deliver benefits across every touchpoint in dental practice.’

In this article, we explain how minimising contact time without the need for highly toxic products delivers many advantages. And we highlight the positive outcomes on patient and staff safety, as well as operational efficiency.

Contact time explained

The contact time, also known as the wet time, is the time that a disinfectant needs to stay wet on a surface to achieve efficacy.

Contact time varies significantly between different types of disinfectant, which matters in a busy dental practice where the speed of clinical disinfection has a considerable part to play in reducing the fallow time between patient treatment.

The speed at which dentists can sanitise treatment areas has a direct impact on how efficiently a practice operates in the new coronavirus era.

Identifying fast-acting effecious disinfectant is comparatively easy.

EN14476, the EU standard for efficacy against pathogens uses contact time as a primary metric for approval. So checking products for approval is a local first step.

However, while some chemicals approved to EN14476 achieve efficacy in 1 minute, other products need a contact time of up to 10 minutes.

This brings the focus of attention sharply onto Hypochlorous acid (HOCl), a powerful non-toxic biocide that acts in 60 seconds or less.

In the following table, we compare data for some of the most widely used chemicals in dental practice infection control:

Active ingredient MOA Toxicity EN14476 Contact Time
Stabilised Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) Oxidising Non-cytotoxic, biocompatible YES 1 minute
Sodium hypochlorite Oxidising Can cause serious injuries in high conc. YES 0.5 - 6 minutes
Chlorine dioxide Oxidising Cell damage, neurotoxicity YES 10 minutes
Quaternary ammonium Cell wall disruption Dermal irritation, skin sensitisation YES 10 minutes

How is a 1-minute disinfectant contact time beneficial?

Even a disinfectant with a 5-minute contact time poses significant challenges.

If every touchpoint in a dental practice needs 5 minutes of disinfection at frequent intervals, it’s easy to see how the cumulative impact grows to an hour or two in a day, or several hours in a week.

Moreover, in a warm atmosphere, a disinfectant may quickly dry out, leaving staff unable to determine efficacy.

And while Germany recently highlighted the benefits of open-air ventilation in helping to tackle coronavirus, sustained ventilation in a Great British winter may not be practical.

Significant challenges also exist in entrance and reception hygiene. The temptation to spray and wipe surfaces quickly could result in transmitting the virus around an environment.

However, a virucide with a proven 1-minute contact time delivers results that are

  • 5 x faster than products with a 5-minute contact time; and
  • 10 x faster than products with 10-minute contact time.

And with every extra minute a disinfectant takes to work, the prospect of leaving live bacteria and virus on a surface increases the chances of cross-contamination with hands and equipment.

However, contact time isn’t the only thing dental practices can evaluate to improve productivity.

Read on to see how biocompatibility also helps to improve efficiency.

Can a biocompatible disinfectant also save time?

Apart from the apparent health and safety benefits, the use of a biocompatible disinfectant also speeds up operations.

Unlike toxic products such as aldehyde, alcohol, bleach and QAC’s, a biocompatible alternative made from Hypochlorous acid (HOCl) relieves the need to train staff in the use of harmful chemicals among other tangible benefits.

Moreover, if the disinfectant is pre-mixed, there’s no need to spend time diluting a concentrate and the dosing is always accurate.

OptiZil for example, is a biocompatible multi-surface disinfectant.

The active ingredient is Hypochlorous acid (HOCl), which is stabilised for 12-month shelf life at a pH of 7 due to a unique manufacturing process.

The non-cytotoxic sanitiser is proven effective against 99.9999% of bacteria and viruses in ‘1-minute’ — and approved for BS EN14476 (virucidal test).

The impact of disinfectant contact time in biofilm removal and waterline management

While shorter contact times improve the efficiency of surface wipe-down procedures — even greater savings can be made in waterline management.

Choosing the right biofilm treatment such as CleanCert, can reduce contact time from 12 hours down to 40 minutes: helping dentist chairs stay operational for longer.

Many waterline cleaners kill planktonic bacteria but are ineffective in breaking down biofilm.

The following image demonstrates the 5 stages of biofilm growth in waterlines:

  1. Single planktonic bacteria land on a surface.
  2. Bacterial cells aggregate and attach.
  3. Growth and division of bacteria for biofilm formation.
  4. Mature biofilm formation.
  5. Parts of biofilm disperse to release free-floating bacteria for further colonisation.

Also, using a single product as a shock treatment and continuous dosing solution has additional benefits:

  1. Streamlines the supply chain with one product from one supplier.
  2. Cuts down the time needed for inventory management.
  3. Reduces stock levels.
  4. Frees up vital cash to spend in other areas.

CleanCert dual-action biofilm treatment removes established biofilm and kills bacteria to prevent it from reforming.

Practices can also use CleanCert as a continuous dosing treatment.


Choosing a multi-surface disinfectant with a 1-minute contact time such as OptiZil can save several hours a week in wipe-down depending on the size of a dental practice.

A 1-minute contact time also ensures effective disinfection while removing the risk of cross-transmission.

If the disinfectant is also biocompatible, there’s no need to spend time training staff in hazardous chemical management.

Choosing a dual-action biofilm cleaner like CleanCert could reduce treatment time from 12 hours to 40 minutes. That’s a 90% time saving over traditional biofilm removers.

If you’d like more advice on how to manage infection control faster and create a safer patient environment free from unpleasant odours like bleach, contact