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What is the EPA list N and why should I care?

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Throughout these unprecedented times it is more important than ever to keep our surfaces clean.

But do you know what disinfectants you should use to ensure it is properly cleaned?

Firstly, what surfaces should I be cleaning regularly?

Anything that we touch frequently needs to be cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis.

Examples of this would be handles, light switches, doorknobs, faucets, phones, devices, and keyboards. Most people are cautious and clean surfaces like countertops or tables, however when they pick up their devices (which is the most frequently touched object for many people) they neglect to clean them.

(Source: Res.Cloudinary)

What should I be disinfecting these regularly touched surfaces with?

You should clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces using an EPA-registered disinfectant on the EPA List N.

What is the EPA List N? Why is it important?  

The EPA List N is a comprehensive list where when used according to the label directions can kill the Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). These products are for use on surfaces, not humans. Children should not use these products.1

There is no preferred active ingredient in disinfectants. All EPA-registered disinfectants must provide efficacy data against the organisms claimed on the label, but each has a different mechanism.

The EPA states that inclusion on the List N does not constitute an endorsement by EPA. The EPA updates this list as needed when additional disinfectants meet the criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).1


How do I effectively use the EPA List N?

The EPA lays out a step-by-step guide of how to use this list so everyone can understand if the product is effective in killing the Coronavirus.2

It is important to note that disinfectant products can be marketed and sold under different brand and product names. To determine whether EPA expects a given product to kill SARS-CoV-2, you need to determine whether its primary registration number is on this list.

How do I locate the primary registration number?

According to the EPA, the primary registration number is on the product label. Look for ‘EPA Reg. No.’ followed by two or three sets of numbers.2

Important areas to consider when locating this number on the product label: 

  • If your product’s registration number has two parts (ex.1234-12), it has a primary registration number. If this number is on List N, the product is qualified for use against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).
  • If your product’s registration number has three parts (ex. 1234-12-123), you have a supplemental distributor product. These products have the same chemical composition and efficacy as primary products, but often have different brand or product names. If the first two parts of this registration number (ex. 1234-12-123) are on List N, the product is qualified for use against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19). (The first two parts of this registration number reflect the primary number reflect the primary registration, while the third identifies the distributor’s EPA company number.)
  • Regardless of whether you are using a primary registration product or a supplemental distributor product, always check that the product’s label includes directions for use for the pathogen on List N. For example, if List N indicates that a product will kill SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) if you follow the directions for rotavirus, make sure the label contains directions for use against rotavirus.2

How does the EPA know that the products on List N work on SARS-CoV-2?

The EPA expects the products on List N to kill SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, because they:

  • Demonstrate efficacy against the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)
  • Demonstrate efficacy against a pathogen that is harder to kill than SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) or
  • Demonstrate efficacy against a different human coronavirus similar to SARS-CoV-2(COVID-19)3

But it is critical to understand that the EPA expects all products on List N to be effective when used according to label directions.3

Where can I find the EPA List N?

Now that you know how to locate which disinfectants are on the EPA List N check out the list here.4

(Source: Facility Executive)

Can I clean my device in a Catalyst case with disinfectants on the EPA List N?

Absolutely! Catalyst Total Protection Waterproof Cases have been tested to sustain repeated disinfection with 70% isopropyl alcohol and 70% ethanol. These have proven to work against similar coronaviruses like SARS and MERS by a study by the Journal of Hospital Infection5.

If the surface is visibly dirty, wash it first with soap and water. Then, follow with an EPA-approved disinfectant, paying attention to proper contact time – the surface should remain wet the whole time to ensure the disinfectant is effective.6

It’s the manufacturer’s responsibility to provide a recommended disinfection protocol, and as you can tell, we’ve done our homework to come up with a recommendation.

Check out how to clean your phone case with our Total Protection range safely here.

Want to learn more?

There are a lot of details and considerations that go into picking the right disinfectant to use on a device or surface. To learn more about our recommended disinfection protocol, check out our full whitepaper ‘How can you safely Disinfect your Devices against the SARS-CoV-2-Coronavirus’ here.


  1. EPA. List N: Disinfectants for Coronavirus (COVID-19) USA Environmental Protection Agency (2020).
  2. EPA. List N: Disinfectants for Coronavirus (COVID-19) I can’t tell if the product I’m interested in is on the list or not. Can you help me? USA Environmental Protection Agency (2020).
  3. EPA. List N: How does EPA know that the products on List N work on SARS-CoV-2? USA Environmental Protection Agency (2020).
  4. EPA: List N Tool: COVID-19 Disinfectants USA Environmental Protection Agency (2020).
  5. The Journal of Hospital Infection. Persistence of coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces and their inactivation with biocidal agents, Healthcare Infection Society (2020).
  6. EPA. 6 Steps for Safe & Effective Disinfectant Use. Environmental Protection Agency(2020).
catalyst catalyst case Catalyst Lifestyle consumer technology disinfect disinfection EPA list N phone hygiene PPE total protection total protection case washable cases Waterproof phone case

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