What is the contact time of disinfectants for viruses?

A disinfection product needs a certain contact time to work effectively. One product has a longer contact time than another. Not only does contact time differ between disinfectants, it differs per organism to be killed as well. Killing off viruses especially requires longer disinfectant contact time.


A virus has a casing which is called a capsid. The virus’ genetic material is contains within the capsid. When this genetic material leaves the capsid other cell can be infected by the virus. The capsid thus forms a protective layer for the actual virus. For the disinfectant to deactivate the virus it needs to penetrate the capsid.

Disinfection product contact time for viruses

Killing off

Bacteria don’t have capsids, so the disinfectant has to only penetrate the cell wall to kill off the bacteria. This is much simpler and therefore faster than penetrating the capsid. This is why disinfectants need a longer contact time to kill off viruses than it does bacteria. This is also why alcohol hand wash is perfectly capable of quickly destroying bacteria, but does not have a long enough contact time to kill off viruses effectively. Many products that work aggressively, but for a short time (like hydrogen peroxide or chlorine) lose their power to rapidly to annihilate viruses effectively. That’s when products that have long contact times and are long lasting, consider Menno florades.

Inwerktijd van desinfectiemiddelen bij virussen
Questions regarding contact time

Questions regarding contact time? Want tailor-made advice? Contact our disinfection specialist Jan-Willem Keijzer or fill in the form below.

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