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Is your disinfectant legal

By Linda Jackson on 30 March 2020

Did you know that the National Regulator for compulsory specifications in South Africa?

Disinfectants are formulated chemicals used in the food, health services and many other industries where they relied on to render inanimate surfaces free of microorganisms such as counters, tap handles, door handles – these are all the areas we are cleaning vigorously now due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are a multitude of active ingredients or combinations that provide disinfecting and cleaning properties. The Department of Trade and Industry are responsible for ensuring that any product that is claimed to be a disinfectant should meet or exceed the performance claimed on the label and supporting publicity material and data sheets.

All disinfectants sold in the Republic of South Africa are covered by this compulsory specification known as VC 8054. If a disinfectant complies with the requirements of this compulsory specification, it can be considered to be bactericidal, fungicidal, sporicidal or virucidal, but it should not necessarily be inferred that it is suitable for a defined purpose. The regulation unfortunately only covers requirements for disinfectants intended for use on inanimate or hard surfaces. It does not cover antiseptics or bacteriostatic agents nor hand sanitisers.

All disinfectants must therefore be registered and you should be able to identify this from the packaging as the regulation requires a label with the following:

  • The NRCS Registration number
  • the address of the manufacturer, producer, proprietor or controlling company
  • The name (s) of the active ingredient and percentage (of each) in letters not less than 4 mm in height
  • the Batch identification and the production date of the batch
  • the Expiry date of the chemical disinfectant which shall not be more than 2 years from the date of manufacture
  • the Recommended method (s) of application (use concentration (s), contact times (s), volume to be applied and application procedure, and, if applicable, suitable diluents (s) and usage temperature (s);


Want to check if what’s in your trolley or cupboard is registered and therefore living up to it’s “claims”? Here is the current list of brands tested by the NRCS. IF your product is not here – perhaps ask a few more questions.

This is also the procedure that must be followed for you to get your product tested as a manufacturer.

For more information, please check out this site:

There are also a number of national standards for disinfectants - these are available for purchase at the SANS store 

  • SANS 54885:2011 Chemical disinfectants and antiseptics — Application of European Standards for chemical disinfectants and antiseptics (Equivalent to EN 14885:2006)
  • SANS 636:2013  Disinfectants based on quaternary ammonium compounds
  • SANS 639: 2013 Detergent-disinfectants based on quaternary ammonium compounds
  • SANS 1615:2011 Disinfectants based on glutaraldehyde for general use
  • SANS 1853: Disinfectants and detergent-disinfectants for use in the food industry
  • SANS 1828:2017 Cleaning chemicals for use in the food industry

A special note on hand sanitisers

There are currently NO regulations relating to hand sanitisers.

This is critically important given the current Pandemic where the shelves are bare.

For manufacturers – now is not the time to deviate from the formulation to make more money. With so many people relying on this measure to protect themselves, lives may be at stake.

There are some national standards for these products. These are  VOLUNTARY Standards but as a responsible manufacturer, you should be looking at this very seriously.

SANS 1330:1981 - Waterless hand cleaners

  • SANS 1221:2000 - Detergent skin cleansers
  • SANS 490: 2013 - Disinfectant alcohol-based hand rub
  • SANS 5261:2009 - Bactericidal efficacy of anti-bacterial liquid toilet soap
  • SANS 1597:2013 Antiseptics based on chlorhexidine gluconate 

The CDC has published this guidance: The CDC is providing this advice " Handwashing mechanically removes pathogens, while laboratory data demonstrate that 60% ethanol and 70% isopropanol, the active ingredients in CDC-recommended alcohol-based hand sanitizers, inactivates viruses that are genetically related to, and with similar physical properties as, the 2019-nCoV."

 The WHO have provided this recipe