How effective is UV disinfection? Does it work for stopping Covid-19? What about safety around the home? What are the pros and cons?

These are questions we hear often, especially when people think about the current global pandemic.  You have surely heard how dirty your cell phone gets; coming in contact with so many surfaces and germs. If you haven't heard this then take a moment to consider how many things touch these technical marvels.

With more and more products out there promising one thing or another, it helps to separate fact from fiction.  Including the newly popular UV disinfection products. It's reasonable if you are wondering if they are worth trying.

Well we will answer those questions and more below!

What is UV Light?

Ultra-Violet or UV light is a naturally occurring light produced by the Sun. It has been artificially reproduced and used for dependable disinfection and sterilization as early as the 1950's.

Notice in the diagram how the Sun naturally produces 3-types of UV rays - only UVC does not penetrate the skin surface


With advancements in technology, and specifically in the UV bulbs themselves, the reliably long lifespan (thousands-of-hours) and smaller size (e.g. UV LEDs vs traditional UV bulbs) has broadened the field for where it can be useful.

You will find UV lights being used to disinfect: water, air, fruits, vegetables, surgical utensils, tablet computers, toys and a variety of surfaces.  All without the harmful chemicals or fumes.

Are all UV lights the same?

No they are not.  When it comes to UV disinfection, not all kinds of UV light are effective. What does that mean? Not to get too technical, ultraviolet (UV) means “beyond violet” and refers to a range of electromagnetic waves with a shorter wavelength (higher frequency and energy) than the visible violet light.

UV is divided into three types with reducing wavelengths and increasing energy. They are UVA (commonly known as Tanning Lights and Blacklights), UVB (used for treating skin diseases) and UVC.

For UV disinfection, only UVC (100-280nm) has high enough energy to effectively kill microorganisms (like corona viruses and other bacteria). When you are shopping for a UV disinfection product to use in your home or business, make sure that its UV wavelength falls in the range of UVC (100-280 nm).

Is UV disinfection effective for the Covid-19 type viruses and bacteria?

The short answer is yes, and even more organisms. Studies have shown that UVC at 254 nm is effective against all foodborne pathogens, natural microbiota, molds, and yeasts. Because microorganisms come in different sizes and shapes that affect their UV absorption, the required time for killing each species varies.2

How does UV Disinfect something?

UV disinfection, also known as UV sterilization or ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI) works by breaking down certain chemical bonds and scrambling the structure of DNA, RNA and proteins, causing a microorganism to be unable to multiply. When a microorganism is unable to multiply, it is considered dead since it cannot reproduce within a host and is no longer infectious.

How much time does it take to kill stuff “dead”?

Since UV disinfection uses the energy of UVC rays to destroy biomolecules, its effectiveness depends on the total energy applied. This energy is determined by the length of exposure time and the distance from the light source. 

UVC light can be blocked by glass, walls or even dust on surfaces. When using you want to make sure what you want sanitized is directly in line with the UV light. 

For example, if you use a UV lamp held within 1 inch above a petri dish grown with E. coli, it will only take 1-2 min to show complete disinfection.1 For sterilizing your phone in our Sterilizing UV box, it takes 5-10 minutes. For sterilizing an 8-foot biosafety cabinet in a lab, a common recommendation is 30 min.

So is UV Disinfection Safe?

Yes, UVC light disinfection is safe for home use.  Like many devices care must be taken to minimize improper use. 

Safety is especially ensured when proper directions are followed.  When the devices are used to sanitize, exposure is limited and harm is barely a factor.

To be clear, these devices are not toys and should not be handled by children or without knowledge of how to use.

Damage from exposure is not immediate or noticeable.  Much like skin tanning which is a type of damage, harmful effects may not appear for several hours. It can take 8 or more hours of direct exposure to cause harm to skin³.

Eyes are more susceptible to UVC damage when exposed to them for long periods. Continuously and directly looking at UV light or staying exposed to any UV light can cause damage to the eyes or skin and is not recommended.

Industrial applications use very high capacity bulbs and fixtures to disinfect areas.  That is why this commercial UV disinfection is usually done with protective shields. Remember to avoid UVC, especially skin and eyes.

Of course every method of disinfection has its pros and cons.  Several UV considerations are listed in the table below.

Pros for UV Disinfection Cons for UV Disinfection
Convenient and easy to use. UV only works along its light path and can be blocked by objects.
Uses no chemicals and leaves no residues or fumes behind. Prolonged exposure to UVC can be dangerous to humans, pets and plants. 
Effectively eliminates Covid-19 and all kinds of microorganisms. Can harm paintings and some plastics with long term exposure
Extremely safe when properly used.


So, whether you are looking for an area lamp to sterilize your room, a wand to wave over sketchy hotel sheets, or a gizmo to sanitize your stinky shoes, UV disinfection is a great option.

MySuperSaver.Club is happy to offer several premium products which provide this convenient and efficient cleaning method.

Click the pictures below to be taken directly to some of our great UVC products and Super Save Now.

MySuperSaver.Club Available UVC Products:

Remember - always follow manufacturers’ instructions on light-source distance, exposure time and safety precautions for any device you purchase.



  1. You can watch the effect of UV exposure time on E. coli killing by clicking here 
  3. Nardell, Edward (January–February 2008). "Safety of Upper-Room Ultraviolet Germicidal Air Disinfection for Room Occupants: Results from the Tuberculosis Ultraviolet Shelter Study" (PDF)UV And People's Health.

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