Register
 (photo: Tedward Quinn)
04.05.2020, 10:34

More than Merely Words

Cleaning & Waste Management, Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Steve Teasdale, co-Founder and Vice-President of Scientific Affairs at InnuScience, explains why the distinction between cleaning, sanitising and disinfecting is central to controlling COVID-19.

 

At a time when we're being bombarded with suggestions, guidance, and often contradictory information on COVID-19, it can be helpful to take a breather and seek clarity.

 

Since the very start of the pandemic, the message has been to clean and clean properly by utilising the right procedures and products in the right places - and at the right times.

 

But uncertainty has often accompanied that message; at least in part as a consequence of the indiscriminate use of the terms, 'cleaning', 'sanitising' and 'disinfecting'.

 

Contrary to the impression that is often conveyed in the media, these terms are neither synonymous, nor interchangeable, but conceal essential distinctions.

 

Cleaning

Cleaning may be defined as the action of making something clean - or, in other words, of removing dirt, microorganisms, marks, stains or other impurities.

 

Cleaning with general cleaners removes dirt particles, debris and many microorganisms from a surface giving it a “clean” appearance, but general cleaners are not specifically designed to kill pathogens that can cause an illness. Sanitizers and disinfectants reduce or remove, respectively, the bacteria count on a surface, yet it is important to understand their differences, in order to know which products to choose for which job. It is worth noting that in the current case of the coronavirus, it has been demonstrated that traditional detergents and soaps are effective in deactivating the virus by dissolving its lipid outer membrane, rendering it harmless.

 

Good practice dictates that any cleaning process starts with using a general-purpose cleaner to remove grease, dirt and debris particles. This should happen before any sanitizing or disinfection steps are undertaken, as the remaining dirt otherwise “consumes” the effective ingredients in either a sanitizer or a disinfectant. After the surface is properly cleaned, it is then important to decide whether to sanitize or disinfect.

 

Sanitising

A sanitiser is an anti-microbial agent that kills or renders inactive most bacteria, fungi, and some viruses that are present on a surface. Sanitisers typically reduce microorganisms on a surface to a level considered safe by public health standards, which is a 99.9 per cent reduction within 30 seconds.

 

The act of sanitising may therefore be defined providing surfaces with a degree of disinfection.

 

Disinfecting 

A disinfectant is an agent that destroys, neutralizes or inhibits the growth of microorganisms. Disinfectants go a step beyond sanitisers to make a surface safer. These products include bactericides, fungicides, virucides, each of which kills a specific type of microorganism – bacteria, fungi or viruses, respectively. Disinfectant kills nearly 100 per cent (99.999 per cent) of bacteria, viruses and fungi on a surface in a 5 to 10-minute period.

 

Sanitisers and disinfectants compared

The distinction between sanitisers and disinfectants may seem small, but consider that surfaces contain millions of pathogens, and depending on the microorganism, only a few particles may be necessary to spread infection.

 

The other important thing to consider is which particular virus, bacteria or fungi a disinfectant is effective against. There are some areas where using a sanitiser to kill the majority of germs is adequate. For instance, in the foodservice industry, sanitisers are sufficient to clean dishes and utensils, as well as tables and surfaces in a restaurant. The sanitiser kills germs effectively and quickly so that surfaces and tableware are ready for repeated use.

 

Where building occupants are more vulnerable to germs, there will be a greater need for disinfecting, such as in healthcare, education settings, or senior living facilities. At the same time, those servicing office buildings should still disinfect high-touch surfaces, such as elevator buttons, door handles and toilet flush handles. Disinfectants are also recommended in areas where occupants come in direct contact with a surface, such as a shower floor in a gym, where athlete’s foot might be a concern.

 

In all of this, we should remember that thorough and effective cleaning achieves what can be called "targeted hygiene"; as cleaning with detergents across all non-critical touch surfaces can promote development of resistant pathogens in a way disinfectants cannot.

 

After all, it is only by removing dirt and sources of food for pathogens from surfaces that we reduce the microbial load on any surface to levels which are not considered harmful.

 

 

 

 

Article rating:

vote data

Leave a reply

Escalator at Tower Gateway DLR station in London. (photo: Chris McKenna)
News Editor  - 23.03.2021

Lift and Escalator Maintenance at London DLR Stations

PropTech provider WeMaintain has signed a four-year contract with KeolisAmey Docklands (KAD) for the provision of lift and escalator maintenance solutions to all London Docklands Light Railway...

Members of the express testing team. (photo: ABM Industries Inc)
News Editor  - 23.03.2021

Partnership to Support UK Covid-19 Express Testing

ABM has partnered with Cignpost Diagnostics to provide 250 trained team members to service the manpower needs at COVID-19 testing sites at Heathrow, Gatwick and Edinburgh airports.

Holding a mirror up to the industry: Jeff Dewing, Cloudfm CEO. (photo: Cloudfm Group)
News Editor  - 31.03.2021

Exposing Widespread FM Failures in the UK

A potentially explosive book by Cloudfm CEO, Jeff Dewing, contains allegations of widespread corporate failings in the UK's £120 billion market for facilities management services.

Mike Winter, managing director of MIW Water Coolers. (photo: Made Blue)
News Editor  - 22.03.2021

Saving Plastic and Lives

On World Water Day, Dutch charity Made Blue and MIW have launched a water fountain offering UK consumers the option to donate 75p via a QR code to clean water projects in developing countries.

 (photo: Compass Group UK & Ireland)
News Editor  - 18.12.2020

Providing 20,000 Meals to Those in Need

The Wimbledon Foundation has extended its support for organisations addressing food poverty at Christmas and beyond as part of its response to COVID-19.

 (photo: CPD Global)
News Editor  - 18.12.2020

Ecolab Named to CDP A Lists

The Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) has added Ecolab to its A List for Climate, as well as Water Security.

 (photo: Bodet SA)
News Editor  - 17.12.2020

Enhancing Home Worker Visibility

Bodet have extended the coverage of the Kelio time and attendance software solution to staff working at home.