Andrew Wheeler Announces Expedited Pathway for Companies to Claim “Long-Lasting” Efficacy for Antiviral Products

This original announcement was published by the EPA on October 15, 2020. Click here for more information.


Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced a major step forward in the Trump Administration’s efforts to ensure that Americans have access to as many tools as possible to clean and disinfect surfaces and protect their families against the novel coronavirus. Through draft guidance released today, companies will now be able to demonstrate that their products have “long-lasting” or “residual” effectiveness on surfaces against viruses like SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

“EPA is providing an expedited path for our nation’s manufacturers and innovators to get cutting-edge, long-lasting disinfecting products into the marketplace as safely and quickly as possible,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “As we continue to re-open our schools, workplaces, and other public spaces, it is important Americans have as many tools as possible to slow the spread of COVID-19.”

While traditional disinfectants only kill viruses and bacteria that are on the surface at the time they are used, surfaces treated with residual antimicrobial products kill pathogens that come into contact with the surface days, weeks, or years after the product is applied. EPA will begin expediting the registration process for these products immediately and may revise the guidance after the 60-day public comment period ends.

The guidance specifies scientific testing requirements for two different types of products: supplemental residual antimicrobial products and residual disinfectants. Supplemental residual antimicrobial products work within two hours of a virus or bacteria coming into contact with a surface and can remain effective for weeks to years. These products can supplement, but do not replace, routine cleaning and disinfection using products from EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). Approved supplemental residual antimicrobial products are not eligible for inclusion on List N but will be added to a separate List N appendix.

Residual disinfectants, by contrast, must clear a higher standard of efficacy. These products are effective within 10 minutes of a virus or bacteria contacting a surface and remain effective for up to 24 hours. Surfaces treated with residual disinfectants do not require additional cleaning or disinfection during this window. These products are eligible to be added to List N.

Presently, there are no EPA-registered products available to the public that inactivate viruses that land on previously treated surfaces. While EPA approved one product to be used on a time-limited basis at specific locations in Texas, that product is for commercial, not household, use.

Cleaning and disinfecting products that claim to kill viruses must be registered with EPA before they can be legally sold or distributed. Through the registration process, EPA reviews laboratory testing data to ensure that products work as intended without causing unreasonable risks when they are used according to the label directions.

In addition to releasing the draft residual efficacy protocols, EPA has also released an updated draft testing protocol for evaluating a copper surface’s ability to kill bacteria and a draft protocol for evaluating the efficacy of antimicrobial surface coatings. These laboratory testing methods act as a foundation for EPA’s interim guidance to registrants regarding residual effectiveness.

To read today’s draft guidance, visit