Covid-19 is changing the way we think about the workplace in many different ways – not least of all how we go about cleaning, disinfecting and sanitising it. Walk into any office at the moment and you’ll see hand sanitiser stations in every corner, disinfectant sprays in communal areas and even temperature checking technology at reception.
Yet with so many cleaning products on the market claiming to eradicate viruses and having the power keep them at bay for long periods of time, how do we know which to select? And can we trust the claims these products make? Firstly, it’s important to understand the basics of the virus as well as the terminology associated with hygiene.
Definitions – cleaning, disinfecting and sanitising
The terms ‘clean’, ‘disinfect’ and ‘sanitise’ are often used interchangeably, when in fact there are a few key differences. Cleaning refers to the removal of germs and debris from objects and surfaces using a combination of soap/ detergent and water. It reduces germs but doesn’t necessarily eliminate them.
Disinfecting refers to the process of killing germs using chemicals on objects and surfaces. It doesn’t necessarily clean the dirt or remove the germs but can lower the risk of spreading infections. Sanitising reduces the amount of germs to a safe level (one that is in line with official standards or requirements) by cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects.
According to the HSE, ‘keeping your workplace clean and frequent handwashing reduces the potential for coronavirus to spread and is a critical part of making and keeping your business ‘COVID-secure.’ Part of this process involves frequently cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces that are touched regularly.
The Cleaning & Hygiene Suppliers Association (CHSA has published a lot of advice on how to choose the right cleaning products during Covid-19 and recently held a webinar on the topic in which they explored, among other things, what makes a product effective against Covid-19.
Which cleaning products can kill Covid-19?
The virus name of the recent coronavirus outbreak is SARs-Cov-2 and Covid-19 is the name of the disease that it causes. It’s part of a large network of viruses including SARs and MERS. The thing is, because the SARs-Cov-2 virus hasn’t been released for testing, cleaning products can’t say that they are proven to kill the virus on surfaces and objects.
However, a virus called Vaccinia is from the same family as Sars-Cov-2 and is the closest surrogate as it behaves in the same way. With this in mind, Vaccinia has been used to test the virucidal efficacy of products (its ability to inactivate the virus). The World Health Organisation (WHO) has agreed this method and it’s been underwritten by EN14476.
Therefore, cleaning/ disinfecting products with an EN14476 stamp on them can claim to be effective against SARs-Cov-2. Bleach products are also counted as GOV.UK guidelines say that 1000ppm chlorine is effective as eradicating viruses.
When it comes to hand sanitiser, the WHO has outlined some hand sanitiser recipes producers can use to meet standards, including an effective alcohol-based hand sanitiser containing more than 60 per cent alcohol (ethanol, IPA or a mixture).
Official testing for the effectiveness of fogging and misting is currently taking place, and we’ll share the results once they become available. Alongside other specialist cleaning and disinfecting techniques, we’re using ‘foggers’ to disinfect common touch points. Also, our steam vacuum cleaners disinfect and decontaminate hard floor surfaces and our ATP system allows us to test surfaces and items for cleanliness.
We’re on call to help you with your cleaning, disinfecting and sanitising needs during and following COVID. You can rest assured that we’re covered by the necessary Health & Safety risk assessments, Method Statements and Safe Operating Procedures for all our services. Get in touch with our team of cleaning experts to find out more.