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June 2018

Cleaning vs disinfecting: The misconceptions

Do you know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting? It is a common misconception that disinfecting is the same as cleaning. Differentiating and executing the two properly is important to ensure a healthy, clean area.

Cleaning is the he act of removing dirt or something undesirable. 

Disinfecting is the process of killing pathogenic organisms rendering them inert. 

Be mindful of these common cleaning vs disinfecting misconceptions:
  • Disinfectant chemicals are not to be cleaned or rinsed off after use. In many cases this is simply not true. Disinfectants in a dry state do not have a residual activity: the disinfectant action can only take place when moisture is present; so in other words the disinfectant has to remain wet for it to work, a dry residue or film of disinfectant may be problematic.
  • Disinfectant residue/film will not damage a surface such as a floor and wall surfaces. The potential of damage is completely dependent on the type and concentration of chemicals contained in the disinfectant and how much of this residue/film is left behind. A dried on disinfectant residue/film (along with all the bugs that it has killed and the soil it may contain) can in fact make a floor or wall surface sticky, attract additional soiling, discolor or even chemically damage the surface of which it is left on.
  • Only certain hospital grade or EPA registered disinfectants can be used on floors and wall surfaces. In most cases the disinfectant chemical selection will be part of the facilities Infection Control and Environmental Services plan. They will have dedicated staff for making the critical decisions for disinfectant chemicals and monitoring the products effectiveness. Each facility will have a process of selecting products that meet the facility’s particular needs, they will have and conduct training programs for the personnel doing the disinfecting and cleaning, and they will have processes for monitoring effectiveness.
Posted: 6/4/2018 7:04:10 PM by Jesse Wade | with 0 comments

Cleaning vs disinfecting: Must know terms

Often cleaning and disinfecting are thought of as one of the same, however the processes are completely different. In order to better differentiate between the two you need to know these terms.

Cleaning: The act of removing dirt or something undesirable.

Disinfection: The process of killing pathogenic organisms or rendering them inert.

Disinfectant: Kills 100% of the germs claimed on a disinfectant label when used as directed. It does not kill spores.

Terminal disinfection: Disinfection of a sick room and its contents at the termination of a disease, procedure, and/or end of day.

Sanitization: Reduces germs to a safe level, as judged by public health standards. Sanitizing must reduce the number of germs by 99.99%. 

While 99.99% sounds like it should be good enough, it still can leave a significant number of germs on a surface. There can be several billion germs on a dirty surface, such as a dirty plate. If you have 5,000,000,000 germs on a surface, and you are able to take away 99.99% of them, you are left with 500,000 germs on the surface. Again, sanitization reduces germs to safe levels. Sanitization Is Not Disinfection.

Residue: A small amount of something that remains after the main part has gone or been taken or used. Something that remains after a part is taken, separated, or designated or after the completion of a process.

From the above definitions it is clear that the process of disinfection is much different than the process of cleaning and that it is very important to understand the definition of residue and that a residue can be anything that is left behind after the process of cleaning or disinfecting; it is these residues that create the problems.

Discover more about cleaning vs disinfecting from the Altro blog
Posted: 6/12/2018 7:38:45 PM by Jesse Wade | with 0 comments

Cleaning vs disinfecting: What's the difference

Cleaning vs disinfecting: What's the difference?

Cleaning is the process of removal. Cleaning entails chemicals, equipment and services (labor), cleaning is accomplished using a cleaning agent (chemical) that is designed to soften, emulsify, break down and suspend the items such as soil and other deposits it comes into contact with. The right chemical (cleaning agent) must be selected and used for the type of soiling (just as a disinfectant must be selected on the type of bugs that it is intended to be killing).

Cleaning chemicals, as well as disinfectant chemicals, need to be products that are not just designed for the specific type of soil or microorganisms that they need to kill or clean up, but they must also be designed not to damage the type of surface that they will be coming into contact with; not all cleaning or disinfecting chemicals can be used safely on all types of surfaces.

Disinfecting is the process of killing pathogenic organisms and it is not the process of cleaning or removing residues.

Selected EPA-registered Disinfectants can be found here on the EPA website.

Remember that an EPA registered disinfectant is a registered bug killer/pesticide and it is not a cleaning chemical. If using a disinfectant and cleaner all in one combination product to both disinfect and clean a surface such as a floor or wall, check with the product/chemical manufacturer for assurances and guarantees that their product is safe for use on the particular type surfaces being cleaned. If the product manufacturer cannot provide assurances of the products safety for use on the surfaces then a thorough cleaning and rinse of the product must take place after its use and in particular after terminal cleaning.

A facility must develop and have a well written plan of both disinfection and cleaning, and that these plans must be accompanied by simple and easy to understand written procedures that can be followed by the personnel that will be performing the work. The very most important part of this document is to provide the understanding that surfaces must be cleaned (residues removed) and surfaces such as floors in particular, be rinsed after disinfecting!

Discover more about cleaning vs disinfecting from the Altro blog
Posted: 6/28/2018 2:39:28 PM by Jesse Wade | with 0 comments