Cotton “4×4” gauze in containers should never be saturated with disinfectant and left to soak in the disinfectant. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cotton gauze materials that have been saturated with disinfectant solution for an extended period of time may breakdown and chemically react with and/or absorb the chemical disinfectant, thereby inactivating the disinfectant’s efficacy. This is especially true for iodophors (active ingredient – iodine), chlorine-containing disinfectants, and quaternary ammonium compounds. A study cited by the CDC showed a significant decline (~40%–50% lower) in the concentration of disinfectant after one hour of soaking gauze.
Additionally, by law, all applicable label instructions on EPA-registered products, including surface disinfectants, must be followed. If the user selects exposure conditions that differ from those on the EPA-registered product label, the user assumes liability from any injuries resulting from off-label use and is potentially subject to enforcement action under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA). For example, if the disinfectant’s label does not include instructions on soaking wipe materials in the liquid disinfectant, then that is considered an “off-label” use and is against FIFRA.
If used to apply disinfectant to surfaces, gauze should be saturated with the disinfecting agent at the time of use and used immediately. Always wear appropriate personal protective equipment when handling chemicals and managing contaminated surfaces.
Note: This article does not apply to EPA-registered disinfecting wipes in original manufacturer’s container with proper label.