There’s no question that COVID-19 changed our lives. Between maintaining social distancing to lockdowns of businesses all around the world, the changes are numerous.
While researchers are trying to develop a new vaccine, all citizens are required to take as many precautions as they can especially now that we are looking at a new wave. From wearing a mask to washing your hands frequently with water and soap or alcohol-gel when running water isn’t available, this is almost all we can do. However, it is also important to disinfect.
Cleaning And Disinfecting Are Not The Same
No matter if you are thinking about your home, office, or shop, it’s important that you can maintain a clean and healthy environment. The truth is that no one knows for sure how COVID-19 spreads. Therefore, we need to stick with the WHO (World Health Organization) recommendations. However, what about cleaning and disinfection?
While the terms cleaning and disinfection tend to be used to refer to the same things, they achieve two different objectives. It’s important to keep in mind that they are both extremely important during this pandemic. But they are two different concepts.
What is Cleaning?
Simply put, cleaning removes dirt, dust, crumbs, and germs from surfaces or objects. When you clean, you usually use soap (or detergent) and water to physically clean off the surfaces and objects. However, one of the things that you may not know is that this action doesn’t necessarily kill the germs. While you may kill some, this will prevent them from spreading an infection to you.
What Is Disinfecting?
Disinfecting is different from cleaning because it implies the use of chemicals or disinfectants that kill germs on surfaces and objects. Some of the most common disinfectants are alcohol solutions and bleach.
To ensure that you disinfect a surface or object, you usually need to leave the chemical on the surface or object for a specific period of time to ensure it kills the germs.
As you can easily understand, when you clean and disinfect a surface or object, you can further lower the risk of spreading infection. So, this means that this is the way to go during this pandemic.
COVID-19 Surface Life
According to some recent studies, COVID-19 is able to survive on a variety of surfaces for an extended period of time. For example, COVID-19 can survive on:
- Steel for 5 days
- Aluminum between 2 to 8 hours
- Glass for 5 days
- Plastic between 2 to 6 days
- PVC for 5 days
- Silicon rubber for 5 days
- Surgical gloves for up to 8 hours
- Ceramic for 5 days
- Teflon for 5 days.
So, to ensure that the virus doesn’t spread even more, you need to ensure that you don’t only clean these surfaces but that you disinfect them as well.
Ultimately, when you clean you are removing traces of dirt, debris and dust primes surfaces and equipment. The reason why you need to clean before you disinfect is mainly that soils can harbor germs and bacteria. So, disinfection becomes less effective if surface soils are present.
If a surface is disinfected before it is cleaned, the remaining soils can still contribute to the growth of harmful microbes and lead to further contamination. The residual soils may also serve as a barrier, preventing the disinfectant from reaching the surface and doing its job. Lingering soils on the surface may possibly affect the active chemicals in a disinfectant, impacting their efficiency. If the surface is thoroughly cleaned first, and validated for cleanliness, the disinfection step becomes much more effective.