Rescue MythBusters: 5 Myths about Disinfectants

Rescue Expert Blog

1) Myth: Neutral pH disinfectants are always safer

False! A disinfectant’s pH level (a measure of acidity or alkalinity) is not the most reliable indicator of how safe it is. Cranberry sauce and pickles, with acidic pH values of 1-2 do not pose safety concerns, which is why so many of us enjoy them! On the flip side, neutral pH disinfectants such as those made with Quaternary Ammonium Compounds (Quats) have been linked to occupational asthma and the development of dermatitis among users1.

Instead of relying on pH, standardized tests for skin and eye irritancy and other potential hazards provide much more accurate measures of safety. Rescue Disinfectants, with a pH ranging from 2-2.5, have proven to be non-irritating to eyes and skin, and are not classified for any health hazards in-use, highlighting the inadequacy of pH as a standalone metric for disinfectant safety (SDS here)

2) Myth: Disinfectants with colours/dyes and added fragrances are better

False! Colors and fragrances in older disinfectants are often linked to safety concerns2, adverse health reactions, and a decrease in air quality3. In fact, animals are often much more sensitive to smells than we are, and many healthcare facilities now enforce fragrance-free environments due to health concerns.  Also, added fragrances in cleaners and disinfectants often mask odor causing bacteria and soil, which makes it difficult for you to tell if you have truly killed and removed everything.

In contrast, Rescue Disinfectants are not only free of any added colors and fragrances, but they also have built-in deodorizing abilities. This is why Rescue is often a favorite of veterinary professionals and the only Fear Free® disinfectant, as it is free of artificial fragrances or harsh chemical odors that can cause stress and anxiety in a pet during a veterinary visit.

3) Myth: All disinfectants must be rinsed after the contact time to be safe for animals

False! Not all disinfectants need to be rinsed off surfaces after disinfection has occurred. The active ingredient in Rescue Disinfectants is hydrogen peroxide, which breaks down to water and oxygen once it dries on a surface.  While some other disinfectant chemistries, such as quats, are known to leave active residues behind on surfaces which can lead to antimicrobial resistance overtime4 and other concerns.  The only ingredients left behind from Rescue™ is some slight harmless detergent residue (similar to dish soap).

As a best practice, we recommend allowing the disinfectant to air dry first before reintroducing animals to the area. This is to ensure pathogens of concern have been killed on the surface by achieving proper contact time. Alternatively, you can provide a rinse with water after the disinfectant has reached its contact time, which would ensure that there is no pooling of the disinfectant on the surface. If accidental contact of a wet surface and a patient was to occur, rest assured Rescue Disinfectants are non-skin irritating in-use (SDS here).  The only time a rinse with water is required is when disinfecting food-contact surfaces (e.g., water dishes, food bowls, etc.).

4) Myth: Rescue Concentrate is not effective when diluted with hard water

False! Rescue Concentrate is designed to work well when diluted in hard water, to ensure that the solution is effective across a range of regions with varying water hardness. Rescue has chelating agents built into its formulation, which protects the solution from being inactivated from minerals in the water supply. Furthermore, Rescue has been demonstrated to remain effective in the equivalent of 400 PPM hard water (water greater than 120 ppm is considered “hard”), providing confidence that most facilities can dilute and use Rescue Concentrate without concern.

5) Myth: Neutral pH products are always more compatible

False! Similar to safety, the pH level of a disinfectant is not the only measure of its potential compatibility with surfaces and materials. Rescue Disinfectants have been tested extensively and found to be compatible with most commonly used materials (overview here). Overall, Rescue Disinfectants work well with hard, non-porous surfaces like stainless steel, laminate, porcelain, ceramics, plastics, acrylics, resins, and silicon rubber.

It’s important to note, certain materials may face compatibility issues with any type of cleaner or disinfectant utilized. For instance, treating porous surfaces like unsealed concrete might not achieve full disinfection because of the porous nature, and issues with compatibility could arise over time. That’s why we suggest only treating hard non-porous surfaces, or adding a sealant for concrete, to ensure compatibility and complete disinfection.


  1. Camagay AV, Kendall N, Connolly MK. (2023). Quaternary Ammonium Compound Toxicity. StatPearls Publishing.
  2. Steinemann, A. (2019). International prevalence of fragrance sensitivity. Air Quality, Atmosphere & Health, 12(8), 891–897.
  3. Environmental Protection Agency. (2023). Volatile Organic Compounds’ Impact on Indoor Air Quality. EPA.
  4. Mohapatra, S., Yutao, L., Goh, S. G., Ng, C., Luhua, Y., Tran, N. H., & Gin, K. Y. (2023). Quaternary ammonium compounds of emerging concern: Classification, occurrence, fate, toxicity and antimicrobial resistance. Journal of hazardous materials, 445, 130393.