Effective cleaning during the COVID-19 pandemic

Why the industry needs to adapt to the new normal when it comes to surface cleaning and disinfecting.

As we progress through 2020 it has become apparent that coronavirus is not going to disappear quickly. Instead, we need to adapt to the new normal when it comes to surface cleaning and disinfecting.

The cleaning industry is at the forefront of this new approach, and at the front line of keeping our communities safe, and operational.

Many of our customers are concerned about the risk of virus transmission via a contaminated surface. Some viruses cannot live for long outside a human or animal host, whereas others can survive for prolonged periods on contaminated surfaces.

Based on current information and published evidence, the coronaviruses sit somewhere in the middle of the risk zone. Its ability to remain alive on surfaces is varied, making this virus even more challenging to remove. Thorough surface cleaning and disinfecting is imperative to ensure that any potentially contaminated surface is left in a clean and hygienic condition.

Whiteley Corporation has conducted a number of disinfectant tests against a wide array of infectious viruses over the past 35 years. Research funded by Whiteley Corporation has shown that once on surfaces, microorganisms can be transmitted to many other surfaces via contaminated hands and fingers.

We continue this long history of disinfectant and cleaning research with on-going testing and collaborative research programs, including current virucidal testing. This knowledge frames important factors to note with respect to disinfectant performance.

The coronavirus is an enveloped virus, and typically these viruses are not terribly difficult to kill on an inanimate surface. There is a tendency, in the context of a new pandemic, to go for the strongest possible disinfectant for surface disinfection. With a harder to kill virus, or a virus with particularly high mortality, that may be appropriate. However, for this year of 2020, that appears to be unwarranted.

When cleaning a surface the first step is to physically remove all dirt and grime, this requires some ‘elbow’ grease. The surface you are cleaning (floors, walls, benchtops) will determine which cleaning products to use.

A good detergent, or 2-in-1 detergent and disinfectant, is the right place to start. Once the surface is clean, then use a TGA registered disinfectant that has been entered into the ARTG with specific claims against SARS-Cov-2 (COVID 19) or COVID-19 on the product label, to disinfect the surface (click here for current product list)

What is most effective from a process perspective is to combine a rigorous, yet simplistic cleaning technique, with the right disinfectant.

We recommend using either a microfibre or disposable cloth, with a detergent or 2-in-1 detergent and disinfectant, to mechanically remove any decontamination from the surface.

Then follow up with the application of an appropriately chosen disinfectant that should remain on the surface while actively killing virus’ and bacteria that may have been on there.

Make sure the disinfectant thoroughly covers the surface for the appropriate contact time (this information should be on the product label). The use of aerosolised products alone to achieve disinfection, in my opinion, is not the optimal way of disinfecting a surface.

Where possible choose a product that your staff like using. It should be easy to use, have a pleasant fragrance and have dispensing options. Providing your staff with a product they like will positively impact/improve cleaning efficacy and compliance.

Remember to keep everyone in our community safe, including your staff – wash your hands regularly, socially distance, and where you should, wear a mask.

Kathryn Bran is Asia Pacific sales manager for Whiteley Corporation.

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