The focus on using the correct cleaning products and whether they are suitable for specific surfaces as well as the correct application, has shifted to disinfecting additional surfaces more frequently. By not following the correct steps, and if a surface is not cleaned first, the efficacy of the disinfection process can be compromised or even result in possible damage to surfaces.
While stocking up on groceries, filling up on fuel or a visit to the bank or public facility these days, customers have become accustomed to the additional step of waiting while surfaces such as counters, screens, electronic payment devices, and waiting room areas are disinfected.
“Simply spraying disinfectant and wiping surfaces could be more of a psychological function than offering any real hygiene benefits if the correct process for disinfecting is not followed,” says Emma Corder, Managing Director of industrial cleaning products manufacturer Industroclean.
Pre-covid the public were content with a weekly clean of their homes and cleaning in the workplace and public facilities was “someone else’s” responsibility. But the pandemic has made us more conscious of the surfaces around us that pose as contamination points and with that the need for regular disinfection.
“While there is always a focus on floors in terms of presenting what is “clean”, surfaces and touch points are far more important to focus on,” Corder adds.
However before disinfecting any area or surface in the home or workplace one needs to ensure that it has been thoroughly cleaned as cleaning is the necessary first step in any disinfection process. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US, the physical act of wiping or scrubbing a surface to remove microorganisms and soil is as important if not more than the antimicrobial effect of the chemical applied to it. (See footnote.)
Start by cleaning surfaces with a good detergent, good quality dishwashing liquid is suitable and Corder suggests using microfibre cloths as they are very effective at removing dirt.
This should be followed by using a damp cloth to wipe down the area with disinfectant that will kill any remaining germs on surfaces. Ensure that the bucket or water used for rinsing the cloth is separate from the chemical solution. Chemical solutions should not be exposed to dirt that has just been collected off a surface as it will inactivate the disinfectant.
In all areas, always clean from clean to dirty, an example is when washing dishes, one would usually wash the cleanest dishes first so as not to contaminate the water. Clean bedrooms before bathrooms to avoid transferring harmful bacteria from bathroom to bedroom areas and clean from high to low, targeting floors last.
Some other steps to bear in mind:
- Know what to clean and, when to clean and when to disinfect: the more people who touch a surface, the higher the risk and it should be cleaned at least once a day.
- Consider the type of surface: Be sure to use a product approved for use on soft surfaces and for electronics such as cell phones, touch screens and ATMS, consider covering these in a wipeable cover and use a product that meets the manufacturers recommendations.
- High-touch surfaces made of plastic or metal should be cleaned regularly.
- Cleaning and disinfection of wooden surfaces in outdoor settings is not recommended.
- Be sure to the read the instructions on product labels and to use the required PPE. Follow the dilution instructions and do not mix products and chemicals. Also allow for the recommended “contact time” of the product.
“Remember that bacteria thrive in warm, dark and moist conditions so make sure that cleaning tools, mops and cloths are rinsed and left to dry in well-lit, ventilated and dry areas before using them again,” Corder concludes.