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Do antibacterial wipes kill viruses?

With many products marketing high antibacterial efficacy, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’ve been tested against viruses.

However, in many cases they haven’t – the Covid-19 disease is caused by an enveloped virus, not bacteria.

Uniwipe disinfectant wipes are proven to kill this type of virus. The high infection rate of the Covid-19 pandemic has brought hygiene products and practices under the spotlight, with an emphasis on regular and effective cleaning to prevent the spread of the virus.

So what’s the difference between bacteria and viruses, does it really matter and how does it affect me and the way I should clean? We look at the best wipes for coronavirus and what sets them apart, and answer some of your most frequently asked questions.


How antibacterial wipes kill viruses

To begin with, it’s worth learning the difference between bacteria and viruses. In simple terms, bacteria are small single-celled free-living organisms that can reproduce and can live inside or outside a body, while viruses are a non-living collection of molecules consisting of genetic material that need a host cell in order to reproduce but can survive on surfaces for a long period of time.

Some viruses, such as SARS-CoV-2, are enveloped in a layer of fat and are often referred to as enveloped viruses. Disrupting this fatty layer destabilises and kills the virus – killing viruses on surfaces with antiviral wipes is the best way to avoid them entering the body and leading to infection.

In most cases, you need to clean a surface prior to disinfecting it in order to allow the solution to fully contact the surface and be effective.

The unique formulation in our dual-action disinfectant wipes means you clean and disinfect at the same time, whilst being effective against bacteria and viruses in just 30 seconds. This contact time is an important number – it’s the length of time the disinfectant solution must remain in contact with the surface in order to be effective.

Sometimes wipe brands will not make it clear what this contact time is, so it’s important to read the small print as wipes can have a very high efficacy but with a contact time of anything from 5-15 minutes. This means you would have to make sure the surface is wet with the solution for a full 15 minutes to kill the germs.

When you need to kill viruses and bacteria, it’s important to use products that are specifically designed for this purpose, rather than standard multipurpose wipes, as standard wipes don’t have the killing power required to stop the spread of these germs.

Wipes like our Clinical wipes are designed to actively target viruses and bacteria and the chemical formulation is highly effective, whereas in most standard multipurpose cleaners the chemical is a neutral detergent simply designed for cleaning visible dirt off surfaces without proven efficacy against viruses.

Again, terms such as ‘Effective against Covid-19’ may be displayed on the pack, but it’s important to check the contact time. The Uniwipe Clinical Midi-Wipes are professionally tested to EN14476, which means they are proven to kill enveloped viruses in 30 seconds (Coronavirus / SARS-CoV-2 is the enveloped virus that causes Covid-19 disease).

To clean surfaces effectively, it’s best to follow these simple steps:

  1. Take 1 new, wet wipe from the pack
  2. Wipe in a regular pattern ensuring full coverage – avoid wiping the same area twice
  3. Ensure the surface is fully wetted out
  4. Leave surface to naturally air dry
  5. Use 1 wipe for each new surface
  6. Always dispose of wipes correctly and according to local guidance – never flush


Frequently Asked Questions 


Can antibacterial wipes be used in the same way as multipurpose wipes? 

Multipurpose wipes should only be used when the cleaning does not need to be antibacterial, for example when dusting, cleaning up spills or cleaning floors. When disinfecting to kill bacteria and viruses, specialist biocidal wipes should be used – look for wipes tested to EN14476, with a contact time of 60 seconds or less.


What’s the difference between 99.999% and 99.9% shown on most wipes?

Bacteria are microscopic free living single celled organisms which can quickly reproduce on a contaminated surface – a surface contaminated with raw meat, for example, could have millions of bacteria per square centimetre. A kill rate of 99.999% will kill 100 times more bacteria than that of 99.9% kill rate. That’s why it’s so important to use products with proven kill rates of 99.999% to remove the maximum amount of bacteria possible.


Is Covid-19 caused by bacteria or a virus?

The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is caused by a virus, not bacteria. SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes the disease, an enveloped virus in the coronavirus family of viruses. Viruses cause illness by invading cells in our body and forcing them to reproduce more viruses – this can damage, change or kill the cells, making us ill.