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Do antibacterial wipes kill viruses?

With many cleaning products marketed as highly antibacterial, you’d be forgiven for thinking they’ve been tested against viruses as well as bacteria. However, in many cases they haven’t – and the Covid-19 disease is caused by an enveloped virus, not bacteria.

Our 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 you and the way you should clean? We look at the best wipes for coronavirus, what sets them apart and answer some of your most frequently asked questions.

Women cleaning stairs with antibacterial wipes

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, with the wipes 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.

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. 

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

Women cleaning door handle with antibacterial wipe

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.


Watch our video highlighting the Uniwipe range and the processes involved in creating the ultimate range of wipes. From manufacturing and distribution to advice and customer service, our in-house production facilities mean we can offer the very best in service and quality.

With vast experience in dealing with all manner of order requests from bulk and bespoke, multiple worldwide delivery locations or phased deliveries, once the team understands your requirements any number of solutions can be arranged.
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Your questions

All the Uniwipe wipes can be used for wiping tables, work surfaces and machinery in food areas, which should be rinsed prior to direct contact with food.

We also have the Catering Midi-Wipes which are specially developed for use in the catering & hospitality sector and are food area approved.

When cleaning high traffic areas to avoid cross contamination, we recommend that you dispose of each wipe properly after using on a surface. This way you can be sure no germs are being transferred from one surface to another.

Uniwipe products are specifically formulated to be safe on a wide range of surfaces such as hard surfaces, leather and upholstery. As they are alcohol free, they are also safe to use on technology equipment.

Whether you’re a distributor looking to resell our products, a large corporation looking to partner with a reputable manufacturer, or are just looking to buy a pack for yourself, we’re here to make it as easy as possible to get your hands on quality wipe solutions.

Visit our How to Buy page to get quality wipes, fast.

Uniwipe products are dermatologically tested, so are certified safe on skin. We also have the Hand & Surface wipe specifically designed and tested for use on hands. If you are prone to irritation from similar products, we recommend you wear gloves whilst using them.