What Should You Use
Grades of disinfectants
The EPA has classified disinfectants into either high, intermediate or low level of disinfection. High-level disinfection kills all organisms, except high levels of bacterial spores, and is effected with a chemical germicide cleared for marketing as a sterilant by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Intermediate-level disinfection kills mycobacteria, most viruses, and bacteria with a chemical germicide registered as a "tuberculocide" by the EPA. Low-level disinfection kills some viruses and bacteria with a chemical germicide registered as a hospital disinfectant by the EPA.
What disinfectant should I use?
Disinfectants used in the salon/nail/spa/barber trades should be EPA-registered, and at the minimum, hospital-grade products. All implements and surfaces must be pre-cleaned prior to disinfection. All items that come in contact with the customer must be cleaned and disinfected. Any item that cannot be cleaned and disinfected, is considered a single use item and must be disposed of in a closed container following use. (i.e., cotton balls, paper towels, sponges, nail files, etc.). Any implements that a client brings from home should be cleaned and disinfected prior to use.
Ultronics 10 min. Instrument Disinfectant is for metal instruments only. This is an intermediate-level phenol-based disinfectant that is formulated with a corrosion inhibitor, so it will not rust your implements. This is an excellent disinfectant for states that require a tuberculocidal disinfectant claim.
Ultracare Disinfectant Cleaner Deodorizer Concentrate is for stainless steel, plastics, surfaces and pedicure tubs. This is a dual-quaternary disinfectant that has been tested to kill 141 micro-organisms in 10 minutes. Ultracare kills HIV-1 in 30 seconds, Hepatitis B and Hepatitis C in 10 minutes. Ultracare cleans and disinfects in one step and is effective in the presence of 98% organic soil.
All implements should be pre-cleaned with soap and water and then fully immersed by using Ultronics soak trays; Ultra Tray, Mini Tray, Instrument Tray, Ultracare Organizer. The implements (brushes, combs, shears, nippers, etc.) must be fully covered by the disinfectant and the cover or lid should be closed.
Properties of other active ingredients in popular disinfectant products
Sodium Hypochlorite (household bleach) - Chlorine bleach kills a wide range of pathogens; is extremely powerful against viruses and bacteria at room temperature and is commonly available and inexpensive. It is also caustic to the skin, lungs, and eyes (especially at higher concentrations); it degrades in the presence of organic substances; it has a strong odor; extreme caution must be taken not to combine it with ammonia or any acid as this can cause dangerous gases to be formed; and it can damage clothing and upholstery. Bleach is also corrosive to stainless steel.
Hydrogen Peroxide - Used in hospitals to disinfect surfaces in solution or in combination with other chemicals as a high level disinfectant. Hydrogen peroxide has the advantage that it decomposes to form oxygen and water thus leaving no long term residues, but hydrogen peroxide as with most other strong oxidants is hazardous, and solutions are a primary irritant. The vapor is hazardous to the respiratory system and eyes and consequently the OSHA permissible exposure limit is 1 ppm calculated as an eight hour time weighted average. Will degrade some plastics.
Phenols are probably the oldest known disinfectants (originally called carbolic acid). They tend to be mildly corrosive to metals and will degrade some plastics. Phenol is an ingredient in many intermediate-level disinfectants that have a tuberculocidal registration. Ultronics 10 min. Instrument Disinfectant is a broad-spectrum, phenol-based product with an added corrosion inhibitor for states that require use of products with a tuberculocidal claim.
Alcohol - alcohol-based disinfectants are reasonably inexpensive and quite safe. The primary drawback is their rapid evaporation. When used as a wipe or spray, they can evaporate before adequate germicidal exposure times are achieved. Ethanol or isopropanol are more often used as an antiseptic (on living tissue rather than inanimate surfaces). Alcohol is non-corrosive, but can be a fire hazard and have a limited activity in the presence of organic material. It can also dehydrate proteinaceous debris making it difficult to clean off instruments and it degrades/fogs some plastics.
Triclosan - a phenol-based ingredient used in some home disinfectants. This anti-microbial agent may cause germs to become resistant over time.
Lysol - in spray form, there are various formulations that usually include alcohol and quaternary ammonium compounds. These are designed as household products and are relatively expensive to use in a professional environment.