Disinfecting can be a misunderstood term. You may think that your Orange County janitorial service is disinfecting some or all of your building, but are they? And what possibly more serious a question–if they are using chemical disinfectants, are they using them properly–and should they be using them at all?
Are you cleaning, disinfecting or sanitizing?
First let’s discuss the difference between these terms. Most will get that cleaning is removing dirt and germs from a surface. So what’s the difference between sanitizing and disinfecting? Sanitizing a surface generally means to remove enough germs from a surface to make the surface safe. Disinfecting a surface means that the outcome is to kill the germs. It’s important to keep these terms in mind when deciding whether or not to disinfect an area or surface.
What disinfecting takes
Disinfecting isn’t as easy as some might think. Practically every disinfectant out there requires the surface to be cleaned first before the product is used. Also, in order for the surface to be adequately disinfected, it must be kept wet for 5-10 minutes (called dwell time) while the disinfectant does its job. This is necessary for a surface to be disinfected. There is no telling how many people, both employees of Orange County janitorial services, as well as clients, assume that what they’re doing, or what they’re paying for, is a disinfected area. As you see, it’s a rather labor- and product-intensive process to disinfect. Often it just isn’t practical, nor is it needed, for the majority of cases.
The harms of over-disinfecting
There have been a variety of studies that attempt to measure the harms of the overuse of disinfectants. A university of Ireland study from 2010 found that one bacteria, Pseudomonas, when exposed to disinfectants that were improperly mixed, or otherwise used incorrectly, became 240 times more resistant to the antibiotics used to treat their infection. The results are not yet conclusive, but evidence continues to suggest that disinfectant use— or misuse, may be contributing to the much-feared bacterial antibiotic resistance.
What other options do I have?
As we mentioned, not every area or surface needs to be aseptic. Thankfully, there are other cleaning methods that can effectively sanitize without the use of potent chemical disinfectants. Microfiber cloths are a surprisingly effective alternative. Some manufacturers report a removal rate for soil and bacteria of up to 99.99%–with just water. That’s competitive, and far safer. Steam can also work extremely well on most surfaces, sanitizing an area in seconds, rather than the 5-10 minute dwell times that are required for effective disinfectants.
Reducing the use of disinfectants helps greatly. When a disinfectant is needed, though, one of the most crucial bits of advice to keep these negative consequences in check is to simply follow the label’s directions. Choose an Orange County janitorial service that uses best practices with disinfectants, and, even better, how best to sanitize without them.