How to Disinfect Properly with COVID-19

  1. Clean all surfaces before disinfecting. Use a multi-purpose, multi-surface cleaner before using a disinfectant or hand sanitizer. This will remove all the types of dirt, organic matter, protein-based contaminants and oils and residues from cooking and smoke which can stops disinfectant from reaching the bacteria or viruses.
  2. Use a Multi-Purpose cleaner. Dirt and contaminants on a surface isn’t just one type of substance. So your cleaner needs to clean a broad range of contaminants. “Multi-purpose” or “All Purpose”, generally mean a cleaner contains a variety of surfactants (cleaning chemicals) that do different things. Some surfactants break down organic matter like dirt, mold, mildew and algae. Some surfactants denature proteins (break their longs chains) found in body fluid like, bacteria, viruses, blood, mucus, emesis (vomit), human and pet waste, as well as food and drinks spills. Still other surfactants, soaps for example, can break down oils, like skin oils, cooking residue and motor oils. Multi-purpose ensures the surface is clean of all types of contaminants that can stop disinfectants and sanitizers from reaching the virus and bacteria.
  3. Proper Cleaning removes 99% of germs. When done as directed, a multi-purpose cleaner can remove almost all bacteria and virus particles from a surface. This typically involves spraying sufficient cleaner on the surface and letting it sit for a couple minutes (called “dwell time”), then rinsing thoroughly with water. Understanding “dwell time”. Cleaning chemicals need time to work. Dwell time gives time for the surfactants to penetrate into the dirt and contaminants, to complete chemical reactions that either break apart contaminant molecules, deactivate the contaminants from functioning, or break the molecular bonds the contaminants have on the surface.
  4. Thin, thick or foaming? If you have to choose one, chose a thin liquid. Cleaners come in all forms, but be careful which you chose. A thin cleaner is best for deep cleaning porous or heavily solid surfaces. Thin cleaners are deep cleaning which is ultimately what you want. Foaming cleaners help to distribute cleaners and cling a bit to horizontal surfaces but thickening a product so it foams robs it of its penetrating ability. Gels work best on walls where the product can stay in place even longer but completely sacrifice any ability to deep clean.
  5. Use a multi-surface cleaner. Like dirt, surfaces you will need to clean are not made of just one thing. They may be metal, wood, plastic, vinyl, stone, glass,  fabric, carpet or painted or coated. There is not much sense cleaning a surface if you’re going to destroy it in the process. So chose a multi-surface cleaner that will clean and not bleach or scratch or degrade the surface.
  6. Safe to use around people and pets. Cleaners can make people sick. That’s because either the chemicals used or the vapors those chemical emit, do the same type of damage to human tissue as they do to contaminants. Look for a cleaner that is safe to use because it doesn’t rely on dangerous chemicals or even cancer causing chemicals to do the cleaning.

Additional guidance on Disinfecting are available at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

Also, see Myths about Disinfectants & Hand Sanitizers you need to know

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