By Kurtis Bell, ServiceMaster by Bell
Let’s talk about disinfecting. One of the hottest topics of recent months has been disinfecting, but are you actually disinfecting or just throwing away product?
We need to start by understanding differences in terminology. Cleaning is removal of visible soil from objects. This works by using detergent and water to physically remove the soiling.Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on a surface or object to a safe level as judged by public health standards or requirements. Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects by use of a chemical.
Killing germs on a surface after it has been cleaned can further lower the risk of spreading infection. Be sure to check out the CDC website for more information on the differences between these three terms.
With talk of disinfecting and everyone cleaning mail with sprays and such, it is still important to clean before sanitizing or disinfecting. In my world of cleaning and restoration, the number one rule in sanitizing and disinfecting is you must first remove all organic soiling. Skipping cleaning would be like using hand sanitizer to “clean” your hands after you have spent the morning changing your car brakes.
One thing to keep in mind with disinfectants is that disinfecting is often not an instantaneous process. Many common disinfectants require a dwell time or wet contact time that can be anywhere from 3 to 10 minutes for COVID-19. That means the surface must remain wet to the touch for the specified time. To find what the wet contact time is for a product you might have, take a look at the fine print on the label.
In America, disinfecting chemicals are regulated by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). If the product you are using does not have an EPA registration number on it, you are not going to be doing any disinfecting. Find where your label has “EPA Reg No.” After that, there will be a 3-5 digit number, a dash, and another 1-3 digit number. Do a quick search for “EPA List N”, find your product’s EPA reg number on the list, and see how long the contact time is for the product you are using.
Hopefully this helps in the fight to keep yourself, your home, and your coworkers and office (in your life sustaining business of course) safer in these trying times. Remember to clean before you disinfect, focus efforts on frequently touched surfaces and objects, and when disinfecting, follow EPA guidelines on contact time to ensure product efficacy. Stay clean and stay safe!
This article was published in the Venango Chamber’s May 2020 VenangoWorks! Newsletter.