Facebook Twitter

Antimicrobial Surfaces
Providing Continuous Protection Between Cleanings

Let's start by clearing up a simple error many people make. There are antiBACTERIAL products and antiMICROBIAL products. The difference between the two is important.

AntiBACTERIAL products will destroy or inhibit the growth of bacteria.

AntiMICROBIAL products will destroy or inhibit the growth of bacteria AND viruses AND fungi.

If you're looking for something that kills the widest range of germs, it should say it's antimicrobial.

Germs are Relentless

When you disinfect something, it only stays clean until the next person touches it. That's fine when you're talking about items that are always disinfected or replaced before they're used again. Dishes in a restaurant, bedsheets in a hotel or an exam table in a doctors office all tend to be safe, because there are proven methods of disinfecting them before the next person touches it.

The problem are surfaces that are too large, too frequently touched or too difficult to clean between every contact. Things like chairs in a waiting room, door handles in busy offices or weights in a gym.

To reduce how many germs are on those surfaces, it's important to add some protection that keeps working between regular disinfecting and cleaning. There are a few options.

Antimicrobial Sprays That Last

These are chemicals you spray onto items that continue killing long after they dry. How long they last depends on the product, with some only good for 24 hours while others claim to last for months.

MicrobanMicroban 24 Sanitizing Spray is a common example used in homes. According to the company;

“Microban kills 99.9% of bacteria and continues working throughout the day to provide long-lasting protection for surfaces in your home. This 3-in-1 cleaner sanitizes for 24 hours disinfects and eliminates odors. It can be used on a variety of hard, non-food-contact surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches and stair railings. It can also be used on soft surfaces such as couches, backpacks and coats.”

It's a good product, but it's only effective against bacteria and fungi. It doesn't work against viruses, so it's listed as an antibacterial, not an antimicrobial. That's the case with many of the longer-lasting sprays, they're effective against bacteria or mold, but not viruses.

There are news articles about commercial products that continuously kill bacteria and viruses for 5 to 90 days. Unfortunately, many are early announcements of test products or are not available in the United States.

Some companies sell services where they come in and spray, guaranteeing surfaces will remain relatively germ-free for “up to 90 days.” Those services are expensive and the effectiveness diminishes over time, especially if you have strict cleaning protocols that would remove it from surfaces.

We are still studying products that provide protection for multiple days, against bacteria and viruses and that are a reasonable cost. Once we have products that we can recommend, we will do that here.

Antimicrobial Products

These are items that have been treated so they provide protection over several years. Many are also listed as antimicrobial, so you would think that they protect against viruses... but that's not correct.

An example is Kwikset, they make a series of antimicrobial door handles and locks. The antimicrobial label would seem to indicate they protect users from germs, but that's not necessarily the case. Here's what it says in the Kwikset website:

“Microban® antimicrobial protection is effective against most common bacteria that cause stains, odors and product degradation. Microban® technology is not designed to protect users from disease causing microorganisms.”

That means your door handles and locks will stay cleaner, but won't necessarily protect you from diseases. Check the details for any antimicrobial products to make sure they protect against diseases.

Copper, Brass or Bronze Products

CopperCopper kills germs, continuously and mercilessly. After just 4 hours, viruses are eradicated from copper surfaces. In as little as 1.1 hours, there's a 50% reduction of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Antimicrobial copper alloys are the only metals that have been proven to continuously kill bacteria. Copper alloys never wear out, are safe to use and have the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) health registration for a touch surface material.

Researchers found that, "...incorporation of copper alloys in communal areas could help to reduce infection spread from touching surfaces contaminated with coronaviruses."

-Centre for Biological Sciences, University of Southampton, Southampton, United Kingdom

Copper doesn't just kill viruses, it's also deadly to bacteria. There was a study that compared using gym equipment with regular stainless steel grips versus copper alloy grips. The bacterial numbers were, 94 percent lower on the copper alloy grips.

"Copper-containing surfaces may be a beneficial addition to commonly applied cleaning practices, because they provide continuous and persistent antimicrobial action even with surface wear and oxidation. In our study, when copper was incorporated into various formites, it resulted in a reduction in the microbial load on associated surfaces on a busy acute care medical ward. Most importantly, the surfaces that were frequently touched by the staff, visitors, and patients, such as door push plates, pull handles, and tap handles on the ward, were less contaminated when copper fittings were used than when standard fittings were used."

-Cambridge University Press - Infection Control and Hospital Epidemiology

Copper alloys are materials made by combining copper and something else. Both bronze and brass materials have shown to be effective, as long as the copper content is 60% or more. The higher the copper content, the quicker it kills.

BronzeBronze is primarily made up of copper and around 12% tin. Other metals and non-metals can be used depending on the final designated purpose of the material.

BrassBrass is typically a combination of 67% copper and 33% zinc. The amounts of each vary depending on the final properties desired for the material.

Wherever possible it's recommended that you replace high-touch tables, countertops, bars and door handles with copper alternatives. For temporary solutions, we've found you can use copper tape to cover and protect high-touch surfaces. Just be careful using it outside because it can tarnish in days and require an extreme amount of work to maintain.

Copper covered weights.
Copper covered weights continuously kill bacteria and viruses..

Cleaning must continue.

Just because you install something with copper in it, doesn't mean you can stop disinfecting. Researchers discovered human sweat can form a corrosive layer on copper surfaces. Over time that blocks the exchange of charged particles that might otherwise kill harmful germs. Copper surfaces in high contact places should be cleaned at least once an hour to retain their full antimicrobial properties. In places like gyms, the copper-covered weights should be cleaned after every use.

Silver has NOT been shown to be an antimicrobial agent.

Companies have been fined for making claims that they are. Do not purchase products claiming to be antimicrobial silver.


Click Here to return to the Cleaner Spaces Now Home Page.

On-site testing in Key West,
give us a call at (305) 294-7928.
The staff at WeBeFit will answer
and they can schedule your consultation.

5/1/2020