A comparison was made of the effectiveness of popular disinfectants (Cavicide, Cidexplus, Clorox, Exspor, Lysol, Renalin, and Wavicide) under conditions prescribed for disinfection in the respective product labels on Pseudomonas aeruginosa either in suspension or deposited onto surfaces of metallic or polymeric plastic devices. The testing also included 7 nonformulated germicidal agents (glutaraldehyde, formaldehyde, peracetic acid, hydrogen peroxide, sodium hypochlorite, phenol, and cupric ascorbate) commonly used in disinfection and decontamination. Results showed that P. aeruginosa is on average 300-fold more resistant when present on contaminated surfaces than in suspension. This increase in resistance agrees with results reported in studies of biofilms, but unexpectedly, it precedes biofilm formation. The surface to which bacteria are attached can influence the effectiveness of disinfectants. Viable bacteria attached to devices may require dislodging through more than a one-step method for detection. The data, obtained with a sensitive and quantitative test, suggest that disinfectants are less effective on contaminated surfaces than generally acknowledged.