Misinformation and Confusion in The Cleaning Industry
Amid the global health crisis, cleaning companies are trying very hard to amplify their claims, offering upgraded or improved disinfection services as an add-on to their usual offering. Understandably, this deluge of misinformation has created a lot of confusion, so we want to set the record straight.
Gaining Clarity on Cleaning Terminology
Our purpose today is not to undermine any company’s efforts. We simply want to clarify some of the terminologies currently being used so you can better understand what’s being done to protect you from exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Disinfect vs. Sanitize: What’s the Difference?
Sanitizing, in general, means reducing the number of bacteria on surfaces, not viruses. In our current reality, it has come to mean spraying with a disinfectant. However, in most cases, the disinfectant is not given enough “dwell” time to kill anything, meaning that the process is inadequate. To be effective, the disinfectant must be allowed to remain on the surface wet for the time identified or recommended by the manufacturer. Otherwise, harmful microorganisms will survive.
If we weren’t dealing with such a virulent pathogen, this spray-and-wipe approach might be good enough. However, the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and several reputable scientific journals tell us that the virus can live on surfaces for up to seven days. If surfaces are not properly cleaned and disinfected, there is a strong potential for exposure – especially in high-touch environments.
Many companies have advertised closing to perform “deep cleaning,” or are doing so prior to reopening. One can only hope that the cleaning company that performs this task has an understanding of what’s required and that the company itself gives them enough time and leeway to do it properly.
It’s been widely proven that antibacterial formulas do not kill SARS-CoV-2. In fact, they do not kill any type of virus. Washing your hands with antibacterial soap isn’t going to protect you against COVID-19, nor will cleaning with antibacterial solutions protect you in any way.
This term seems to be widely swapped out for disinfection on many cleaning company’s websites. It actually refers to the reduction or removal of chemical agents from people, surfaces and medical equipment for critical environments, like operating rooms and laboratories that operate under strict compliance standards. Without a detailed definition of what “decontamination” means, there is certainly no guarantee of safety.
The only chemicals known to kill SARS-CoV-2 are specific EPA-approved disinfectants that have been proven effective against the virus and has an emerging pathogen claim. Most reputable cleaning companies will already be using these solutions and will not attempt to upcharge for “decontamination” or other services that fall into that grey area.
New Technologies: Innovation or Otherwise?
New products and technologies are appearing everywhere, from UVC machines to disinfectant foggers to antibacterial coatings. While some innovations are truly promising, most have been rushed to market without adequate testing. Others, like antibacterial coatings and foggers, are either dangerous to our health or simply do not work. So, make sure that the cleaning company you select is able to explain to you why the technology they utilize, if any, is the most appropriate and most effective one when dealing with COVID-19.
Just as a doctor knows that an antibiotic will not cure your cold or flu virus, a reputable cleaning company will not try to sell you a remedy based on empty promises. The onus is on us to educate our staff and customers on the safest and most effective procedures to use. Working together and armed with the latest science, technology and education, we will continue to fight on the frontlines of prevention.