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Disinfectants and Sanitizers

Most people don’t realize that disinfectants and sanitizers are regulated as pesticides by the EPA and Utah. Hand sanitizer that is labeled for that use only is regulated by the FDA unless the product is labeled for use on other surfaces, then it’s regulated by both FDA and EPA/state.

Due to the coronavirus and COVID-19, many companies are trying to supply the disinfectants and sanitizers to meet the surge in demand. In this rush, we’re finding mislabeled products, false or exaggerated claims, unregistered products, and people simply not using the products effectively.

UDAF recommends you do the following:

  • Make sure that the label has an “EPA Registration Number”. It is often found on the back near the manufacturer’s address but maybe on the front of the label as well. If it hasn’t been EPA registered, then that product should not be up for sale no matter what claims the label makes. Look up the EPA’s PPLS (Pesticide Products and Label System) to verify the registration. Let UDAF know if you think you’ve found an unregistered disinfectant or sanitizer. (Call 801-982-2300 or email with photos and information.)
  • Make sure your sanitizer or disinfectant has shown effectiveness against the coronavirus by checking EPA’s “List N”. The products on that list have been shown to kill 99.9% of the virus within 10 minutes. If it’s not on the list, it hasn’t passed muster, no matter what their marketing may say.
  • You will also want to check the Utah Product Registration page to be sure that the product has been properly registered with UDAF and the State of Utah.

Be careful of the claims!

  • It’s illegal to market a pesticide as “Safe” or “organic” as every pesticide has some risk, even if it’s a small risk.
  • EPA allows a claim of 99.9% kill, but not 99.99%. Except for hand sanitizer, claims that the FDA or CDC approve it aren’t meaningful since they don’t regulate pesticides.
  • If you know enough chemistry, watch out for the bactericides that claim to control viruses.
  • Also, very few of these products are good beyond the period of time they are wet. If you see a claim of long term effectiveness, make sure it’s on List N. Very few products have been shown to work for more than a few minutes.
  • Be leary of products claiming long residual times. Most products are only effective while wet.
  • Also, no cleaner kills COVID-19, which is the disease caused by the coronavirus. No product is allowed to claim that it kills or eliminates COVID-19.

Hand Sanitizers

  • Hand Sanitizers are very important with soap and water are not immediately available. Recently, the FDA has found products claiming to be ethyl only to contain methanol which is toxic if absorbed through the skin. Be sure to use only FDA approved hand sanitizers with at least 70% ethyl.
  • For a list of FDA-approved hand sanitizers click here.

Found a Product on List N?

  • Be sure to follow the label closely. Many products require a wet time of up to 10 minutes, meaning spray it and leave it for the label required amount of time before wiping it off, or it won’t be as effective.
  • If a fogger is required, make sure it’s set correctly and you’re using a product with fogging instructions on the label.
  • Follow PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) requirements.
  • You can always use bleach with water but follow the CDC Guidelines for use.

Found Something Fishy or Want Some Guidance?

As mentioned earlier if you have found a product that you can not find on List N or in the EPA’s PPLS, please give us a call or email us with the information. (Call 801-982-2300 or email

If you are an institution, business, or any indoor area that has lots of people congregating and would like guidance on a product or some more information on disinfectants and sanitizers that you are currently using or looking to use, contact the Pesticide Program and we would be happy to get you in touch with a local compliance specialist to assist you with your questions.

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