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How do antibacterial wipes kill viruses and bacteria?

Before we dive into how antibacterial wipes kill viruses and bacteria, it is worth noting the differences between them. In technical terms, the key difference is that bacteria are free-living cells that can live inside or outside a body and have the ability to reproduce by themselves, while viruses are non-living collections of molecules which need a host to survive and reproduce.

Despite their differences, there are also a number of commonalities, one of which is that both bacteria and viruses are microscopic, meaning that they are invisible to the naked eye. Additionally, bacteria and viruses are not always considered harmful as they can sometimes be beneficial to our health and agriculture, helping us to build up immunity.

To help strengthen your knowledge and improve your cleaning habits, we’ve discussed how antibacterial wipes work to effectively kill both viruses and bacteria…

Uniwipe multipurpose women wiping keyboard

How do antibacterial wipes kill viruses and bacteria?

Standards and testing:

Firstly, when discussing antibacterial wipes it should be highlighted that not all antibacterial wipes contain the active ingredients to kill both bacteria and viruses. For example, some wipes which are made purely with Benzalkonium Chloride may only be approved to kill bacteria and not viruses.

Many standard multipurpose wipes do not have active ingredients to kill both bacteria and viruses, and instead use a neutral detergent which simply cleans off visible dirt from surfaces, failing to act effectively against viruses.

The simplest way to discover what germs a wipe can kill is by checking the product label. Every packet of wipes should have its own range of certifications and approvals stated on the packaging, informing consumers of what germs they are able to kill. Products which have disinfectant claims will have had to go through rigorous testing in order to achieve this title. At Uniwipe, our Clinical Midi wipes have been certified to both EN1276 and EN14476, making them specially formulated to kill both bacteria and viruses in line with the UK and European standard testing.

In some cases, it is recommended that you clean a surface prior to disinfecting it. The reasoning behind this method is that it allows the disinfectant to get in direct contact with the germs. If your surface is covered in a layer of crumbs, dirt or spilled food then this added layer may be protecting the bacteria underneath it, making it hard for the wipe to get in full contact with the surface and effectively do its job. The unique formula in our dual-action antiviral wipes gives you the ability to clean and disinfect at the same time, while being effective against bacteria and viruses in only 30 seconds.

Uniwipe washroom women cleaning sink

Retaining moisture:

In the most simple form, antibacterial wipes kill viruses and bacteria by using the chemicals on the wipe to break down and eliminate any viruses or bacteria that it comes into contact with.

Without the presence of any disinfectant solution, then antibacterial wipes will become redundant as they will not contain the correct power and chemistry needed to kill any contacted microbes. It is therefore essential that you ensure your wipes retain moisture and do not become dry. Our Uniwipe Clothwipes are amongst some of the biggest cleaning and antibacterial wipes on the market and hold the ability to stay wet for over an hour out of the pack.

Something to be aware of is that moisture can be lost when wipes are stored incorrectly. One of the most common ways this happens is when the lid of the wipes is left open or is not closed correctly.

To stop your wipes from losing moisture, there are a few simple things you can do including making sure that you store your wipes correctly by placing them in a suitable storage space and ensuring that the wipes are not exposed to open air by correctly sealing the lid.

Another easy way to retain moisture in your wipes is to make sure that you are only using one wipe per surface, which we have touched on in a previous blog. Using a single wipe between multiple surfaces will inevitably dry out the wipe and increase the risk of cross contamination, highlighting the importance of keeping your wipes saturated with disinfectant.

Uniwipe close up of door handle being wiped

Contact times:

In order for antibacterial wipes to work at their optimum level and eliminate germs, they must be applied following the correct contact time. Contact times play a large role in the success or failure of how well a surface is disinfected.

A contact time is the period of time that a disinfectant needs to stay wet on a surface in order for it to successfully kill any bacteria or viruses. This can range from 15 seconds to 30 minutes and will vary between products depending on the bacteria and viruses that the product claims to eliminate.

Why are these recommended times so important? The bottom line is that you want to ensure that the disinfectant is doing its job. The contact number has not been pulled from thin air, it has been specifically chosen by the manufacturer based on the results of testing. Therefore, following this time is critical in achieving effective results particularly in high risk environments such as hospitals or care homes.



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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