UVC disinfection is a comprehensive method for chemical-free disinfection that is growing in popularity throughout the professional cleaning industry. It’s an innovative way to reduce the chemical presence in vulnerable environments, offices, and workplaces that need effective disinfecting, but don’t want to risk damaging chemically sensitive surfaces.

A lot of common chemical disinfectants can affect the finish or damage the surfaces of certain materials. Not to mention leaving harsh, unappealing, toxic fumes in the air. Yet UV-C disinfection can achieve a reduced number of germs without bringing potentially dangerous substances into an area.

At the same time, UV-C disinfection tends to be a lot faster than most other disinfection methods. It works faster and with less appreciable effect on surfaces than things like the spray and wipe disinfecting method.

Though to understand the benefits and proper application of UV-C disinfection, we’re going to have to take a closer look at what it is and how it works.

What Is UV-C Disinfection?

The acronym UV-C stands for “Ultraviolet-C” disinfection. It’s a highly effective no-touch disinfection process that uses a special wavelength of ultraviolet light to execute a chemical-free level of disinfection. These UV-C light waves are generated artificially with specialized lamps.

It’s important to note, that there is a difference between UV-C light, which is capable of killing microscopic pathogens, and the UV-A, UV-B light created by the sun that gives you a tan, or a sunburn.

The Differences Between UV-A, UV-B & UV-C Light

The different types of UV light radiation are broken down and classified by their wavelength, which is measured in nanometers (NM).

UV-A light rays are measured in the 400 to 320 nm wavelength. This type of UV light can penetrate the middle layer of your skin and cause damage. Modest UV-A light exposure can cause your skin to tan, and potentially to even develop a sunburn.

Whereas UV-B light rays are typically around 320 to 290 nm. This means they can affect the outer layer of your skin to cause tanning or sunburn. UV-B light can also damage the surface cells of your eyes.

Though the UV-C rays, which are used for killing pathogens in UV-C disinfection technology typically have a wavelength that measures between 290 to 200 nm. This means that UV-C light rays cannot reach the skin through the Earth’s atmosphere. They can only be generated via artificial UV-C lamps.

At the same time, UV-C is the least likely form of UV radiation to cause harm to the operator because they’re the shortest wavelength of naturally occurring radiation.

How Safe Is UV-C Disinfection?

While the UV-C disinfection process is safe it still needs to be used with caution to avoid any operator injuries. While using the special UV-C-producing lamps, the operators need to be sure not to look directly into UV-C light or expose it to the surface of their skin.

With extended exposure, UV-C radiation is strong enough to cause significant dermal burns and potentially cause serious eye injuries. This also means that the areas being disinfected need to be unoccupied to avoid any possible injuries to others. That’s why a lot of professional cleaning companies who offer these services strongly recommend the UV-C disinfecting device only be used after hours, during off hours, or on the weekend.

Some surfaces can be extra-sensitive to UV-C disinfection. This includes some types of soft plastic and polymers. It should also be noted that over time dyed textiles might be degraded or their vibrant colors will start to fade after exposure to a UV-C lamp.

These potential hazards are the reason why UV-C disinfection should only be administered by highly trained and experienced cleaning technicians.

The Best Places For UV-C Disinfection

There are some places where UV-C disinfection is the most effective sanitizing method. This includes

If you own or manage a facility that needs thorough disinfection, UV-C technology can be used as part of a comprehensive disinfecting strategy.

UV-C devices can even be used in empty classrooms, offices, patient rooms, and clinical settings to quickly prepare for the next occupant(s). It tends to be a much better alternative than other liquid disinfecting methods which require long downtimes for efficacy.

What Pathogens Does UV-C Kill

A UV-C disinfection device can be used on a wide range of surfaces to inactivate:

  • Bacteria
  • Viruses
  • Other Pathogens causing common illnesses

Though some pathogens like the E-Coli Bacteria require a two-step disinfection process which requires cleaning to be done separately from disinfecting. This means that you should first clean each surface or object before using a UV-C disinfection device. This will maximize the effectiveness of the device for inactivating certain bacteria like E-Coli.

How Long Does Disinfection Take With UV-C Light?

The specific germs and bacteria being targeted can influence the disinfection time with a UV-C device. This is related to UV-C disinfection devices requiring different exposure times for specific pathogens. This means providing sufficient dwell time to make sure that all of the surfaces have been disinfected.

Though this is still a much shorter amount of time than chemical disinfectants. In the hands of a properly trained operator, it can take as little as 3 minutes to disinfect a 900-square-foot room. Whereas this same size room might take up to an hour using liquid disinfectants and the wiping method.


A UV-C disinfection system is an effective cleaning technology that will help lower the number of germs and bacteria on surfaces and objects in any facility. Though it is not a standalone sanitizing technique.

Instead, it’s better to integrate a UV-C device with other traditional cleaning and disinfecting methods. This maximizes the effectiveness, while also reducing the amount of chemical exposure your sensitive surfaces receive from chemical agents.

Building Services is proud to offer UV-C disinfecting in our broad menu of professional cleaning services. We have specially trained operators who know how to use the technology correctly to keep themselves, others, and vulnerable surfaces safe.