In these difficult times, when the flu and the new coronavirus are dangerously contagious, it’s important to understand the differences between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting a surface. According to the Centers for Disease Control, when something is cleaned, soap and water are used to physically remove the germs. Cleaning doesn’t kill germs, but removing them reduces the risk of spreading infection.
When you disinfect, you use chemicals to kill the germs; this doesn’t necessarily remove the germs, but killing them can lower the risk of infection. Disinfecting an object typically requires the disinfectant to remain on the surface for approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Sanitizing reduces the number of germs to a safe level, which can be accomplished through cleaning, disinfecting, or a combination of both.
When germs attach to a surface, they can live for up to two days on porous surfaces like fabrics, and up to seven days on non-porous surfaces like metal. Make sure to consistently and thoroughly clean “hot spots” like cell phones, grocery carts, remote controls, restaurant menus and condiments, faucets, and door handles. Wash hands after using public transportation and community items in offices like copiers and coffee pots.
You have to read the directions on any product you use to clean, disinfect, or sanitize. Sanitizers and disinfectants are regulated by the EPA, and have to meet certain guidelines to be certified. Pay special attention to “dwell time” or “time to kill”, which is how long a product must be exposed to a surface to be effective. “The biggest mistake people make is not letting the product stay on the surface long enough,” said Ron Vohs, owner of Best Vac. “We sell commercial grade disinfectants that have dwell times of a minute or less, while some mass-marketed products may have to stay on the surface up to 10 minutes to be effective.”
For more information about keeping your home safely sanitized, please contact:
2015 Dean St., Unit 3
St. Charles, IL 60174