Ask the Building Maintenance Experts
Solutions for Your Toughest Problems

ICAN  Q & A  Home

Wednesday, January 28, 2015


Does anyone know of a disinfectant that has a "kills claim for porous surfaces." I currently use Johnson’s Virex-256 and Caltech’s Dispatch, neither of which has this claim.


A dry steam vapor system is especially effective on irregular, uneven, or textured surfaces. Since steam penetrates pores that many chemicals and abrasive cleaners cannot, it is a thorough, reliable means of surface disinfection. The chemical-free system also provides additional health benefits: cleaning professionals and occupants are not exposed to the potentially corrosive or allergenic compounds that may be found in traditional chemical disinfectants.
Note: Not all steam vapor units are alike. Ask for the test data showing efficacy.

Allen P. Rathey
InstructionLink/JanTrain, Inc.
13998 West Hartford Dr.
Boise, ID 83713
Voice (208) 938-3137
Fax (208) 938-3138
Mobile (208) 724-1508

Answer #2:
This may be similar to asking if there is any bullet that will penetrate bullet-proof armor plate. The reason a disinfectant may not be rated for use on porous surfaces is that it cannot kill what it cannot contact, and porous surfaces are good at holding substances that protect micro-organisms from contact.
Another way of looking at this is that if the surface is porous enough to hold and hide soils and germs, then it is not likely to act easily as a transfer point. If these things are so “out of touch” as to prevent their destruction by disinfectant, they will not readily be contacted by humans either.
Most disinfectants used in the cleaning field are really cleaner-disinfectants, meaning they have surfactants and other additives to allow for soil penetration so germs cannot hide so easily. They are formulated this way because few surfaces are totally non-porous. Some are just more irregular than are others.
With this viewpoint in mind, you may be dealing with a non-issue. Please note that the steam recommended above works well and allows for the soil removal from irregular surfaces that not only improves the appearance, but eliminates the “home” of the micro-organisms we are concerned with. There is no need to kill what is no longer there.

Lynn E. Krafft, ICAN/ATEX Associate Editor