Cleaning Materials & Solutions
Products that Clean and Disinfect, Quickly and Effectively
Most people are good at cleaning; they're not very good at disinfecting. When you clean something, you're removing the surface grime and making it look good. When you disinfect something, you're killing the germs that are on it.
When most people disinfect something, they spray a cleaning solution on it and immediately wipe it up. That's a problem; you should NOT wipe it right off.
The solution has to stay on the surface, and that surface must remain wet, long enough to kill everything. The amount of time the surface has to remain wet is called the dwell time.
Many cleaners have a dwell time of 5 to 10 minutes. In a busy environment, that's just too slow to be effective. You'll find employees will simply wipe things down and walk away without letting the cleaner do the job. Can you imagine a restaurant worker spraying down a table and waiting 10 minutes before they wipe it dry or seat a new customer?
Things look clean, but the germs remain.
Two common solutions are extremely effective.
Isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol that is 70 percent alcohol will kill germs and viruses, including coronavirus on surfaces in about 30 seconds. (We prefer using alcohol because it doesn't have the same strong smell as a bleach solution. Alcohol also doesn't have to be made up fresh every 24 hours like a bleach solution does.)
The percentage of alcohol is extremely important. At 50% or lower, the killing power of alcohol drops rapidly. At 91% or higher, it can evaporate before it has a chance to work properly.
For both speed and effectiveness, 70% isopropyl alcohol is ideal.
The information on bleach below is provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Diluted household bleach solutions (at least 1000ppm sodium hypochlorite, or concentration of 5%–6%) can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application, ensuring a contact time of at least 1 minute, and allowing proper ventilation during and after application.
Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
- 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of room temperature water or
- 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of room temperature water
- Bleach solutions will be effective for disinfection up to 24 hours.
The United States Environmental Protection Agency has a complete list of cleaners and how long they need to stay on a surface to kill.
The two solutions mentioned above (isopropyl alcohol and bleach) are used for general-purpose disinfecting. They DO kill the virus that causes COVID-19 and most common germs. If you have a specific pathogen you're trying to kill, you want to go through the EPA products list for details on what would work best.
Special Note: Products like Lysol have been shown to kill the virus that causes COVID-19. However, you must let them sit on the surface for several minutes. According to the Lysol website, "To Disinfect: Surfaces must remain wet for 3 minutes then allow to air dry. For Norovirus surfaces must remain wet for 10 minutes then allow to air dry."
Read the label and choose carefully if you're looking for rapid disinfection!
Soap & Water
Cleaning with soap and water may be enough for some surfaces. Ones that aren't frequently touched or toys that children might put in their mouths.
Choose Appropriate Cleaners
Some surfaces may be irreparably harmed by routine cleaning or disinfecting agents. Make sure the cleaners you choose are designed for the surfaces you're using them on.
There is a two-step procedure for dirty surfaces like restaurant tables, bars or massage tables.
Put on proper protective equipment such as gloves or protective glasses to keep yourself safe.
Wipe away the dirt and grime. You want just the surface exposed and none of the debris like food particles or body oils left behind.
Spray or wipe the disinfectant onto the surface.
Let the surface remain wet for the manufacturer's suggested “dwell time.” For 70% isopropyl alcohol or a bleach solution, that time is about 1 minute.
You can spray again and wipe with a NEW clean rag if you want to remove any residue or a cleaning wipe. Do not keep reusing the same rag because if it has germs on it, when you wipe, you are just spreading those germs around, re-contaminating the surface or spreading contamination from one area to another.
Always use products as directed. Follow any special instructions and make sure you understand precautionary statements on how the product may affect specific surfaces, plants, pets, people and the environment in general.
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