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Disinfecting Correctly

More important than ever in a COVID-19 World.

Daily disinfecting or sanitizing and cleaning is good.  However, is it good enough, and is it effective?  Germs / Viruses / Pathogens deposited on a surface by one person put the next person touching that surface at risk of cross contamination, unless the surface is disinfected after every contact.

Cleaning or Polishing vs. Disinfecting or Sanitizing.  No, in most cases they are not the same. 

Cleaning is using a solvent to remove dirt or filth from a surface. Apply solvent to the surface and wipe off the solvent and dirt or filth, repeat.


Disinfectant or Sanitizing is applying the disinfectant or sanitizer to 100% of the surface, wait the appropriate dwell time (see explanation below) and wipe if needed.   


Correctly using Disinfectants or Sanitizer

How long do disinfectants need to remain on a surface to kill germs, which is called “Dwell Time”?  Example: Lysol Brand Disinfectant has a two-minute “dwell time”.  Consult the product label before use.  Depending on the disinfectant or sanitizer it may take thirty second to five minutes, or possibly longer to completely disinfect or sanitize the surface.   


Disinfectants or Sanitizers applied by spraying or disbursing with a cloth, towel, rag…. 

Spraying, you must cover 100% of the surface to disinfect or sanitize effectively.

Towels or wipes used to disburse or distribute chemical disinfectants or sanitizers may deplete the chemical before you are done wiping.  In either case you are not effectively disinfecting or sanitizing if you do not use enough sanitizer, comply with the dwell time, or over distributing disinfectant or sanitizer by wiping or smearing.  In short, you could be wasting your time.


Can Disinfectant Wipes or Wiping of Disinfectants or Sanitizers further contaminate a surface? 

Chemical cleaners sacrifice their disinfecting or sanitizing component (chemical) as they Disinfect or sanitize.  When the sanitizer is depleted the cleaning material (cloth, towel, rag, sponge…) can become contaminated and act as a cross contamination source disbursing germs / pathogens to other surfaces.


Human Error also need to be discussed to completely cover the Disinfecting or Sanitizing process.

Do wipes and common methods of spraying provide complete coverage?

When using a straight-line spray application or a wiping method it is common to miss, or neglect portions of the surface being disinfected or sanitized.  Window cleaning example, the streaks or missed areas you get when cleaning a window demonstrate the neglected or missed portions of the surface, and don’t forget “Dwell Time”.


I hope this has been helpful, and helps you get the most out of your efforts and disinfectant or sanitizer.