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The Wait

Here’s a pop quiz for you. Which one of the following statements describes “dwell time”?
A. The time that cargo remains in a terminal’s in-transit storage area while awaiting shipment.
B. The interval that something therapeutic or diagnostic remains inside a patient’s body.
C. The time you are given after a military deployment to “recover.”
D. The duration a disinfectant or cleaner must remain wet on a surface to effectively kill germs.

Is This a Trick Question?

Guess what? This is a trick question, because these are all descriptions of dwell time! Interestingly, the one you should be most concerned about is D, as this is an EPA-specified time period, usually around 10 minutes, that’s required for a disinfectant to do its job and to assure compliance. It’s not always listed as “dwell time.” Sometimes other terms such as “contact time,” or “must remain wet for” are used instead, but they all essentially mean the same thing.

It’s important to note that just because you waited a certain period of time for one product does not mean that’s how long another product needs to work, as dwell time is product specific. All disinfectants are tested and labeled for the specific amount of time they must be in contact with the surface to kill the microbes. If you’re cleaning floors, dwell time can save you a lot of work and will allow you to be more effective by laying down the cleaner and giving it time to loosen the soil before you try to mop it up.

Time is Money

Unfortunately, we often work under the premise that time is money, so we tend to hurry things along. But this is a part of the job that’s too important to ignore. If you don’t want to experience the equivalent of watching paint dry, use your time wisely while waiting for the disinfectant or cleaner to work by keeping busy with other jobs or responsibilities that need to be done. However, it’s always a good idea to clock this time so that you don’t allow too much time to pass and the chemical dries up, causing you to have to start the wait all over again!

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