With the resurgence of old diseases and the appearance of new ones, having a disinfectant is becoming an in-demand product for households and daily life.
Disinfection is the process of cleaning and removing pathogenic microorganisms from inanimate objects and surfaces. Disinfection definition comes in a myriad of terms and is often interchangeable. Germicide and sanitation are two common terms that are also used when cleaning a surface or an object.
Why disinfection is important? As COVID-19 is still looming in our midst, each one of us should practice proper disinfecting techniques to prevent the spread of pathogens and other harmful elements from each other. The modern age has seen the rise of different products that aim to make households and workplaces clean and disease-free. But how effective are disinfectants?
Are Cleansing Agents Highly Useful Against All Types of Pathogens?
In general, disinfectants are effective against bacteria. However, there are several factors to be wary of when buying anti-bacterial products. Knowing these factors does well in combating the unseen dangers that lurk in our surroundings and curbing the spread of pathogens and other deadly organisms.
1. Pathogen Population
No matter the size of the area or surface you need to disinfect, it is vital to remember that pathogens form colonies and multiply rapidly to form vast populations of bacteria.
Medical professionals suggest having an initial inspection of a surface or property that needs disinfecting. Find out what kinds of activities are done in a place, how many people use an area, and how an area was used. As a general rule, it is important to do a primary cleaning before actual sterilization and disinfecting.
Since pathogens are minute organisms, it is easy for them to sneak through crevices and every nook and cranny. When doing anti-bacterial cleaning, make sure to cover every angle and spot of things and places.
Pathogens thrive and multiply even in minute areas. Professional cleaners suggest disassembling an item before cleaning and disinfecting.
3. Tolerance and Resistance
Some microorganisms can resist mild disinfectants. For instance, mycobacteria and spores can resist chemical cleaners because of the waxy cell that acts as a shield to ensure their protection. Aside from bacteria and fungi, viruses can also resist commercial cleaning materials often used for sanitation.
Because of the tolerance and resistance of some species of bacteria and viruses, microbiologists and medical professionals suggest that an area exposed to these microorganisms should undergo several levels of sanitation before it can be considered completely disinfected.
4. Chemical Potency of Sanitation Products
Commercial sanitation products often contain different chemicals of varying potency. For instance, household products have milder chemical components than sanitation products used in medical and scientific institutions. Chemical potency is important in eradicating the types of pathogens present in an environment.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), effective killing of pathogens requires a more concentrated germicide. The time spent on the sanitation process is also relative to the product’s potency.
5. Physical Factors
Physical factors such as temperature, humidity, water hardness, and pH level affect how sanitation products work. Temperature makes the perfect example to illustrate this factor. Most germicides become more potent at a slight increase in temperature.
On the other hand, water hardness decreases the effectiveness of a germicide because the minerals (most specifically magnesium and calcium) can bond with the chemicals in the product to form insoluble materials.
Facts About Germicides
Germicides are common household products. However, measuring the potency of each product and its purpose is not well-known by many.
When buying cleaning agents, it’s vital to read the product tags and chemical ingredients to get the most of its cleaning and sanitizing functions.
1. Check for EPA regulation.
Each disinfectant undergoes regulation from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The agency requires companies to attach a product label on a germicide declaring its components, detailed instructions on using it, and warnings.
2. Don’t use germicides for molds.
It is easy to assume that bleach and other germicides are efficient killers for molds. Unfortunately, that is not true. The EPA, along with professional mold cleaners, do not recommend using bleach to kill mold. According to the agency, a percentage of mold remains in an area even after being sanitized by bleach and other germicides.
3. Keep hydrogen peroxide handy.
Hydrogen peroxide is one of the most effective forms of germicide, and it is easily available in drug stores and first aid kits. When dealing with wounds and basic sanitation of utensils and medical equipment, hydrogen peroxide is the product to use.
4. Disinfecting wipes can do only so much.
The food industry has introduced easy-to-carry disinfecting wipes for people to sanitize utensils easily. The popularity of these disinfecting wipes is now widespread, from homes to medical institutions. However, some experts doubt their sanitizing effectivity.
Like alcohol, these wipes are only limited to disinfecting small amounts of pathogens. Although the wipes are good for easy sanitizing, further studies are needed to analyze their efficacy.
Sanitizers vs. Disinfectants: Are They the Same?
Sanitation and disinfection are often interchangeable terms, which often translates to people thinking that sanitizers and disinfecting agents are the same.
What is the difference between sterilization and disinfection?
Sterilization refers to sterilizing or eliminating all forms of microbial life. It’s performed in hospitals using either chemical or physical methods.
Disinfecting is a process which eliminates all pathogenic microorganisms from inanimate objects, except for bacterial spores.
Disinfection is usually done with liquid chemicals or by wet pasteurization in healthcare settings. The effectiveness of disinfection may be affected by many factors, such as prior cleaning of an object, organic and inorganic loads present, type and degree of microbial contamination, the concentration of and time exposure to a germicide, physical nature of an object (e.g., crevices), presence of biofilms, temperature and pH of disinfection; and in some instances, relative humidity.
Myths About the Process of Disinfecting Materials
There are many myths about the disinfecting process and disinfectants. People need to be aware of the correct way of keeping any space safe from pathogens.
Here are some common myths regarding the disinfecting process that most people think is the convention.
1. The disinfecting process works immediately.
This is probably the most common myth about germicides. One swipe of a disinfecting product will not kill pathogens straight away because there are types of pathogens resistant to certain disinfecting products.
It is best to carefully read a product description to apply the right amount to an area being sanitized correctly. Most of the time, product descriptions also include how many times these chemicals need to be applied to clean an area efficiently.
2. Disinfecting should be done only on high-touch surfaces.
As a general rule, disinfecting should be done on surfaces often touched or held by people. For instance, doorknobs, handles, and light switches should automatically be disinfected as soon as possible. This is especially important in places like hotels and restaurants.
For households, it is also important to disinfect large spaces where people are always gathered, like the living room, the kitchen, and the dining room.
3. Should you use bleach to disinfect laundry?
Using bleach to disinfect laundry is not a good idea. Bleach can be too strong for some of our clothes. If you want to eliminate bacteria from clothing, use warm water and a washing machine.
4. Vinegar is a good germicide.
There is no doubt that vinegar can sanitize and disinfect surfaces and clothing. However, it is not potent enough to do massive disinfecting projects. When dealing with food-borne pathogens, vinegar can be an effective germicide. However, it is not potent enough for viruses.
Tips To Properly Use a Germicide
Here are some tips as a reminder on maximizing the potency of germicides and disinfectants and keeping your household or your property safe and sanitized.
1. Check the label.
Always read and check the label before using disinfectants for sanitation.
Different products contain different chemical compositions, and manufacturers specify how a product should be applied to a surface on their label.
2. Ensure adequate ventilation.
Safety is of primary importance when sanitizing your area. Ensure that your windows are wide open before performing sanitation because disinfectants can be strong enough to hurt your respiratory system.
3. Use water at room temperature.
If a germicide needs to be diluted, it is best to use water at room temperature. This will make the dilution process easier and more effective. Cold water tends to slow down the dilution process, whereas warm water easily degrades the potency of a germicide.
Deep Water Emergency Services and Restoration Helps You Disinfect Your Property
Due to the health threats that appear every day, regularly keeping your household sanitized and disinfected is vital.
Any water damage from the previous season can lead to mold and mildew infestation and breeding grounds for other pathogens. When this happens, call for a COVID-19 decontamination and water damage restoration in Denver, CO, specialist!
Deep Water Emergency Services and Restoration easily disinfects your property and eliminates the damages brought by water problems. Call us now and get a quote!