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The Simple Science Behind Cleaning...and Why It Isn't Necessarily Good Enough...

We all know that keeping your space clean is essential to ensure the health and wellbeing of all members of your family, staff, clients or guests and it’s especially important during COVID-19 as the virus can be transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces. Happy days, reach for the cleaning products right?

Right and....wrong! The cleaning products we use, namely disinfectants and antibacterial cleaners only scratch the surface of the problem. Coronavirus is spread through the air by droplets and smaller particles (known as aerosols) that are exhaled from the nose and mouth of an infected person as they breathe, speak or cough. The particles do drop to the surface you then clean...but what about the danger of transmission whilst they are in the air?


Let's start by looking at your surface cleaning options. What’s the difference between disinfectant and antibacterial cleaners?  Does it matter which you use? The short answer is YES!

What do disinfectant cleaners do?


Cleaning products that claim to disinfect surfaces are designed to kill any germs or bacteria that they come into contact with. Disinfectants generally include a small amount of a strong chemical such as peroxides, also known as bleach, diluted into a solution that is safe for use in the home or office. 


Some multi-use products claim to be able to disinfect surfaces as they clean. However, disinfectants need to be left on surfaces for between 5 and 10 minutes to be completely effective at removing germs and bacterias... 


An important thing to note is that disinfecting isn’t always a process of cleaning and cleaning isn’t always going to disinfect...

What do antibacterial cleaners do?


You may have seen advertisements for cleaning products claiming that they are effective at killing 99.9% of bacteria. But, what do these antibacterial cleaners actually do?


Because, bacteria grow by multiplying at a microscopic level, even small amounts of bacteria can spread quickly because the individual bacteria reproduce by doubling again and again in a short space of time.


Antibacterial cleaners contain compounds that interfere with or stop this growth of bacteria. Meaning any bacteria living on surfaces will stop multiplying when they come into contact with an antibacterial cleaning agent.


These sorts of cleaning agents come in two different forms; non-residue and residue antibacterials. Non-residue antibacterial cleaning agents include alcohols, chlorine and peroxides or bleach, they don’t leave any lasting residue on surfaces.  Residue antibacterial agents include chemical compounds such as triclosan and triclocarban which leave behind a residue on surfaces which is intended to provide lasting protection against bacteria.


So, what's the problem you may ask with these two types of cleaning agents?


For starters, if you are trying to protect your space from COVID-19 and other viruses like the flu, specific antibacterial cleaning agents won’t help.  This is because COVID-19 isn’t spread through bacteria, it is a virus and viruses have a different cell structure that needs to be removed in a different way to bacteria. 


What's the big problem? They don't clean the air....even though you may wipe and disinfect to the best of your ability, the minute someone walks by and breathes, speaks or coughs, the droplets are expelled and land right back on the surface you just cleaned.


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