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The Importance of Effective Disinfection Methods in The Workplace 

Now more than ever, creating a clean, healthy, and safe workplace for your employees and anyone entering your facility must be a top priority due to the coronavirus pandemic coupled with the fall/winter flu season. When used as directed, disinfectants help prevent the spread of colds, influenza, and other diseases, including SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19).  Unless trained properly in the use of disinfectants, your employees may not be following best practices for infection prevention.

As a professional commercial cleaning and janitorial service, our job is to stay informed and use the most effective methods, materials, and equipment to eliminate and help prevent the spread of pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi) in your facility, including COVID-19. We also want to empower you with information to help you make the right decisions when it comes to the proper use of disinfectants.

Cleaning and Disinfecting 

Disinfecting is an important step in any cleaning routine. There are different types of disinfectants as well as different methods for effective disinfecting. Cleaning is the necessary first step of any disinfection process. Cleaning with soap or detergent and water reduces germs, organic matter, salts, and visible soils, all of which interfere with microbial inactivation. 

The physical action of scrubbing with detergents and surfactants and rinsing with water removes a substantial number of microorganisms. Sodium stearate is a good example of a surfactant and is the most common one in soap. Disinfecting works by using specific chemicals that kill germs on surfaces or objects. If a surface is not cleaned beforehand, the success of the disinfection process can be compromised. 

Sterilization vs Disinfection

Although proper disinfection will destroy and reduce most pathogens, it can not create a sterile environment. Disinfection and sterilization are essential for ensuring that medical and surgical instruments do not transmit infectious pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi) to patients. According to the  CDC), sterilization destroys all microorganisms, including substantial numbers of resistant bacterial spores, by heat (steam autoclave, dry heat, and unsaturated chemical vapor) or liquid chemical sterilants.

This type of decontamination is only necessary for critical situations such as a specific hospital or medical setting, surgeries, or laboratory work. Because sterilization of all patient-care items is not necessary, health-care policies must identify, primarily on the basis of the items’ intended use, whether cleaning, disinfection, or sterilization is indicated.

SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19): Surfaces & Disinfection  

Coronavirus (COVID-19) may survive for several days on some objects and surfaces. Studies have shown that the COVID-19 virus can survive for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, up to 4 hours on copper, and up to 24 hours on cardboard, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Estimates of its life span vary, but the virus can clearly linger long enough to make disinfecting frequently touched surfaces in your facility a priority.   

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that all frequently touched surfaces and objects by multiple people in the workplace be routinely cleaned and disinfected. Under the right conditions, bacteria can double their numbers in as little as 20 minutes. Surfaces and objects that are frequently touched such as phones, keyboards, shopping carts, point of sale keypads, doorknobs, light switches, elevator buttons, and handrails accumulate germs more quickly and need to be disinfected more often. 

Restroom surfaces should also be disinfected frequently, with toilet and faucet handles being havens for germs. Don’t neglect less obvious surfaces like towel dispensers, toilet paper holders, garbage cans, and hand dryers. Cleaning alone does not kill germs, but it reduces the number of germs on surfaces.  

Disinfectant Contact Times or Dwell Times

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines dwell time as, “the amount of time that a sanitizer or disinfectant must be in contact with the surface, and remain wet, in order to achieve the product’s advertised kill rate.” Different disinfectants target a wide array of different pathogens. The surfaces these pathogens inhabit also vary greatly. According to the EPA, all products on List N kill the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) when used according to the label directions.

There are a number of variables required for proper disinfection, and achieving the EPA required contact time or dwell time is a critical part of the overall equation. Some products may have dwell times of only seconds, while others may require up to 10 minutes or more before they achieve their maximum kill claim. Using EPA registered disinfectants in a manner different than directed can affect the efficacy of the product. Also, keep in mind that different dwell times are not an indication as to whether one disinfectant is more effective than another.  

Disinfectant Kill-Claim Testing

In order to make a disinfectant kill-claim, a product must go through a strict testing process set forth by a country’s regulatory agencies. In the U.S., it’s the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). To test a disinfectant, scientists cover a surface with a large dose of the organism being studied. They then douse the surface with a disinfectant and let it sit for a set amount of time before testing to determine whether any of the organisms remain viable.

Those tests use excessively high concentrations of germs, about 100,000 organisms per centimeter, which is far more than would typically be found in a typical work setting. “Most common surfaces in homes and hospitals have less than 100 organisms per square centimeter,” said Dr. David Weber, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Proper Training In Disinfectant Use & Reading Product Labels 

Many of us are used to giving a surface a quick spray, followed by a wipe or two, which may not allow enough time for the product to work. While the disinfectant may kill some of the organisms immediately upon contact, the product must be allowed to dwell on the surface for the time period stated on the label to achieve a 100% kill-claim.

The disinfectant must remain wet on the surface for the duration of the contact time to be effective. You also never want to mix disinfectants with other cleaning chemicals. Mixing a disinfectant with anything else can completely change its properties and make it no longer effective. Before you apply disinfectants, read the label to be sure the specific bacteria, viruses, and other germs you want to eradicate are listed in the “kill claims.”

In summary, effective disinfecting includes four steps: cleaning with soap and water, disinfecting for the proper contact time or dwell time, wiping clean, and rinsing with water. Pre-cleaning with soap (detergent) and water is most important on heavily soiled surfaces as dirt can shield pathogens underneath. Disinfecting for the proper dwell time is critical. Wiping afterward is essential because disinfectants can leave a sticky residue where pathogens can quickly resettle. Rinsing finishes the process. Note that some products may claim to sanitize, which means they reduce the level of certain bacteria, but not viruses.  

Why You Need Cleanstart  

Cleanstart has been in the commercial cleaning and janitorial industry for over 27 years. We have also been on the front lines fighting the spread of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic (Time Magazine video featuring Cleanstart on the front lines fighting COVID-19). We provide efficient and effective cleaning and disinfection services and emergency services for confirmed COVID-19 infection cases. 

Our professional cleaners are trained in the latest cleaning and disinfection best practices established by the CDC and WHO and observe all OSHA safety standards for COVID-19.  We provide commercial cleaning and disinfection services for facilities large and small including offices, medical, retail, industrial, multi-tenant high-rises, and all commercial spaces in between.  We can customize a cleaning and disinfection plan specific to your facility needs and schedule.

Electrostatic Spray Technology

Our professional cleaning technicians use a combination of hand wiping and an electrostatic sprayer – an effective tool in supplementing the everyday janitorial cleaning methods used offices and commercial facilities. Electrostatic spraying kills viruses, including SARS-CoV-2 which is the virus that causes COVID-19. It has been proven to kill 99.99% of viruses in a matter of minutes, making it not only effective but also extremely fast-acting. 

We use an EPA-registered disinfectant solution with a broad-spectrum kill claim (list N) against coronavirus, norovirus, H1N1, SARS, MRSA, swine flu, E. coli, salmonella & more. The disinfectant leaves no harsh fumes or visual residue & eliminates odors (environmentally friendly, hypo-allergenic & safe). 

Request a Free Proposal Now!

Daily, weekly and monthly visits are available as well as a one-time emergency cleaning and disinfection visit. We guarantee our services. If for whatever reason our 5-star quality service standard is not met, we will make it right by correcting the issue within one business day. Our combination of proven processes, high standards, and uncompromising customer service take quality cleaning and disinfecting services to the next level.   

Cleanstart ticks all the boxes:  

✓ Over 27 years in the cleaning and janitorial industry
✓ Professionally trained janitorial specialists
✓ Committed to the highest quality of clean
✓ Local, licensed, bonded & insured
✓ 24/7 cleaning options & support
✓ Customized cleaning solutions
✓ 100% satisfaction guarantee
✓ OSHA, HIPAA, EPA, CDC, AORN compliant
✓  A+ BBB-rating

If you are looking for an experienced and reputable cleaning and disinfection service provider for your office or facility, you can count on the experts at Cleanstart. For more information about our quality services or to request a free proposal, please give us a call today at (253) 921-2593.


Where We Service in the PNW:

Auburn, Bellevue, Bellingham, Bonney Lake, Bremerton, Factoria, Fife, Gig Harbor, Kent, Lakewood, Olympia, Puyallup, Renton, Seattle, Tacoma, Tukwila, University Place, King County, Kitsap County, Pierce County, and Thurston County.

5013 Pacific Hwy E unit 16 Fife, WA 98424 • Phone: 253.921.2593 • Email: Caleb @ thecleanstart.com