As stated by the Federal Center for Disease Control, a thorough cleaning of sinks, toilets, doorknobs, and many other hard surfaces that people frequently touch is the first and most important step in preventing the spread of disease.
Though a good cleaning removes many of the germs living on these surfaces, the ones left behind soon begin to grow and re-accumulate. Therefore, to be safe most janitors also use a disinfectant or antiseptic product to kill the bacteria and viruses that are present. It usually isn’t possible to kill everything, including spores. Doing so would require the use of a sterilizer.
Most disinfectant spray products work by oxidizing the germs, breaking down their cell walls, or otherwise deactivating them. Different ingredients or combinations of ingredients kill different germs. Therefore you either need to select a disinfectant spray that works on the specific germs you are trying to get rid of, or, select a broad-spectrum product that works on all of the germs as an antiseptic.
How can you tell what germs a disinfectant product will kill? Check the container label or product fact sheets for an EPA Number. All commercially available disinfectants register their effectiveness claims with the Environmental Protection Agency.
In order to kill germs your disinfectant must stay wet on the surface for about 10 minutes. Because this time is longer than what most janitorial situations allow, a thorough pre-cleaning of the surface is very important before using products such as Lysol Disinfectant sprays or even a skin disinfectant.
For simple disinfection, clean the area thoroughly. Use a mild but effective spray disinfectant product, and use as little of it as possible. Always wear gloves and goggles to protect yourself from the antiseptic chemicals.
It is usually enough to use an institutional grade disinfectant product for daily hard surface maintenance. In addition, milder sanitization grade products may be used on carpets or in toilet tanks where the goal is to reduce germs.
In some cases you may need to deeply disinfect a part of your building or home. In that situation, or if you are working in a health care setting, it is important to use a hospital grade disinfectant product. Such products accomplish a more thorough job and kill a broader range of pathogens. These are typically used on medical supplies and surgical instruments.
Some products can be used as medical or dental spray disinfectants. These are designed to disinfect appliances and surfaces in dental, medical, and orthodontic offices. Most of these are non-toxic broad spectrum antiseptics that can be used on almost any surface. These disinfectants are especially useful in labs and other areas where infection control is of the up most importance. With dental and medical disinfectants, it is safe to clean the most delicate of items (use as a skin disinfectant), in addition to medical supplies and surgical instruments.
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