In these times of Covid-19, cleanliness and a healthy, safe environment are extremely important, both at our homes and offices. According to recent research, the novel coronavirus can easily spread via daily objects such as doorknobs, countertops, keyboards etc. and can remain on such surfaces from hours to days on end, depending on the surface. In such a situation, it becomes imperative for us to regularly clean all the visibly dirty surfaces in our homes and offices, followed by disinfection and in some cases, even sterilisation. However, to do an effective job of this, one must understand the difference between cleaning and disinfecting, and also know about the right products, processes and recommendations from the appropriate authorities. If you aren’t sure if you do, this article is for you!
What is Cleaning?
Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. It does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection. It generally works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. It is the first step before disinfection or even sterilisation.
What is Disinfection?
Disinfecting refers to using chemicals, for example, EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
Tip: Always clean first and then disinfect. Cleaning removes loose soil and dust. If these are not cleaned, germs can hide under these and reduce the efficacy of the disinfectant.
High Touch Surfaces
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that certain areas that are classified as high-touch surfaces should be frequently cleaned and disinfected.
These include tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, hard-backed chairs, tablets, touch screens, remote controls, phones, keyboards and other electronics.
Hard surfaces (apart from electronics) should be cleaned using household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants. Labels should be carefully read for proper usage of the cleaning products and disinfectants.
How to Clean?
Following are the recommendations by CDC for cleaning and disinfecting various types of surfaces: -
- Hard Surfaces (Non-Porous)
- If the surface is visibly dirty, then first clean the surface using soap or detergent and water.
- Wear disposable gloves. And clean hands immediately after removal of gloves.
- For disinfection the following may be used.
- EPA-approved disinfectants
- Diluted Household Bleach (if appropriate for the surface). This bleach should only contain 5.25%–8.25% sodium hypochlorite. It is important to ensure a minimum contact time of 1 minute. Proper ventilation should be ensured before and after application. Manufacturer’s guidelines should be followed and this bleach should not be mixed with ammonia or any other cleaner.
- A bleach solution can be made by mixing the following: -
- 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) of 5.25–8.25% bleach per gallon of room
- 4 teaspoons of 5.25–8.25% bleach per quart
- Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol
- Soft Surfaces (Porous)
- These include carpeted floor, rugs and drapes.
- For these remove visible contamination if present, and clean with appropriate cleaners.
- Then launder items, in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions.
- For laundering, use the warmest appropriate water and dry items completely.
- Clean all visible contamination, according to manufacturer's instructions.
- Wipeable covers can be used. Alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol can also be used to disinfect touch screens. Surfaces should be dried thoroughly to avoid pooling of liquids.
- Linens, Clothing and Laundry Items
- Disposable gloves should be worn when handling dirty laundry. If gloves are not used, hands should be washed immediately after.
- Don’t shake the laundry, so as to minimize the possibility of dispersing the virus through the air.
- Clothing items should be washed in the warmest possible water and are to be dried completely.
- Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s laundry items.
- Clean and disinfect clothing hampers. You can place a disposable bag liner here or one that can be laundered.
- Hand Hygiene
- Hands should be cleaned often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
- If soap and water are unavailable, an alcohol-based sanitiser with at least 60% alcohol can be used.
- When to specially clean hands: -
- After blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After using the restroom
- Before eating or preparing food
- After contact with animals or pets
- Before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance (e.g. a child)
Cleaning and Disinfecting around a Covid patient
The following points as regards to cleaning and disinfecting are to be kept in mind if you are in close proximity to a Covid patient.
- The ill person should be fed in their room if possible. Non-disposable food service items used should be handled with gloves and washed with hot water or in a dishwasher. Clean hands after handling used food service items.
- Dedicate a lined trash can for the ill person. Use gloves when removing garbage bags, handling, and disposing of trash. Wash hands after removal of gloves.
- The ill person should have their own personal cleaning supplies for their room and bathroom. If a separate bathroom for the ill person is not available, the bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected after each use by the ill person.
To get more information on cleaning and disinfection in the times of the pandemic for households, use the guidelines as given by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on their website.
If you are looking to buy cleaning products and disinfectants, One Stop Cleaning Supplies provides the largest range in Australia at the lowest prices. You can visit our site at www.onestopcleaningsupplies.com. To buy cleaning products or get in touch with our in-house cleaning experts, call 1300 131 700, email us on [email protected], or explore our website for the latest updates!