According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, here is what you need to know about each:
- Cleaning: Physically removes germs and dirt with soap/detergent and water. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but rather reduces the risk of infection by removing them.
- Sanitizing: Lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This process includes a combination of both cleaning and disinfecting to reduce the spread of infection.
- Disinfecting: Kills germs on surfaces or objects through the use of This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after it has been cleaned is an important step to further reduce the spread of infection.
Once these different processes are understood, these guidelines for maintaining a healthy, germ free environment can be implemented.
1) Focus on areas that are touched often.
Things like desks, keyboards, doorknobs, taps, and sinks, should be cleaned, sanitized or disinfected regularly. The busier the area, the more attention it should be given when it comes to ridding it of germs.
2) Routine cleaning and disinfecting is all you need.
Common viruses like the flu are very fragile and do not require extensive disinfecting to kill. The flu virus can die in as little as two hours after being transmitted to a surface so regular, basic sanitizing is all you need to diminish the chances of spreading the infection. However, hardier germs like the Enterovirus, Norovirus, etc. will require a stronger solution and more attention to the process. Dwell times or “contact time” must be observed. Sadly the failure of most sanitizers and disinfectants are not the products but the users. Often times the user sprays a sanitizer/disinfectant and immediate wipes. Many products require dwell times that may take up to 10 minutes. If the product is not allow to “Dwell” then it will not work,
3) Clean and disinfect correctly.
Always follow the instructions on your cleaning, sanitizing or disinfecting products to effectively kill germs on hard non-porous surfaces. As a side note, most sanitizers and disinfectants are only effective at remediating germs on hard non-porous surfaces. If someone is telling you that their product can kill germs on carpets or other fabrics, ask nicely of course, to see their independent study. In fact, because keeping students, staff and guest safe is a primary objective, it’s imperative that you only use products that have valid 3rd party testing and are proven at remediating germs.
4) Use cleaning products correctly.
Read warning labels and follow instruction on when to use protective gloves, especially when using harsh chemicals like quaternaries. Never mix solutions and make sure that all staff understands safe and appropriate uses for them.
5) Handle waste appropriately.
As with cleaning and disinfecting solutions, waste products, and garbage bins should always be handled in a safe and appropriate manner. Avoid touching used tissues and always wash your hands after emptying a bin to protect against the spreading of germs.
With these cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting guidelines, your school can reduce their costs and most importantly, reduce the spread of infections and illness.