Achoo! You just finished cleaning the house, yet you still hear the familiar sound of a sneeze that is presumably triggered by dust. What does this mean? Is the place not clean enough? In this article, we’ll discuss Sanitisation vs Disinfection.
What is clean enough?
This is what homeowners often ask themselves after spending hours cleaning every nook and cranny of their homes. However, one can only answer this question based on what is perceivable to the eyes. If the knobs look shiny, the floor is stain-free, or the toilet bowl appears to be as white as pearls, one would be tempted to think that the house is indeed clean enough.
Unfortunately, most of the time, that is not the case.
The Dangers Of Bacteria And Germs
Organisms invisible to the naked eye lurk around our homes—even in places we believe to be “clean”. Their microscopic size allows them to propagate without worrying about the homeowners’ keen eyes.
After sweeping your floor a few times or after splashing your toilet seats with water, millions of microorganisms still sit pretty on these surfaces, having the time of their life as they crawl and wiggle their way onto your skin.
Although some of these ever-present microorganisms are beneficial, like lactobacillus, a decent amount of “germs” or a group of pathogenic bacteria, viruses, fungi, and other tiny organisms still find their way in the places we sleep, eat, and enjoy our leisure time.
According to a 2011 NSF International study on household germs, coliforms were found to be present in 81% of households and are mostly lingering on kitchen surfaces and items like the sink, sponges, and chopping boards. Coliforms like e.coli and salmonella are gram-negative bacteria that can cause severe infections like pneumonia and neonatal meningitis.
Moulds and yeast, potent elicitors of allergic reactions to a significant portion of the population, were also found to be present in 31% of households.
Apart from the typical moisture-rich locations of these microorganisms, just like the bathroom and kitchen, these were also found on items that are commonly used by younger members of the family—computer keyboard, toys, remote control, and toothbrush holders.
Since typical sweeping and vacuuming can only eliminate primary dust particles, the presence of these organisms may be the reason why your child still sneezes and scratches excessively even after “cleaning” your home.
How can one eliminate these microorganisms, then?
It all boils down to your level of cleaning. If cleaning for you only means wiping off the dust from surfaces and sweeping visible dust particles, then you can only expect so much. Hence, you need to know about these levels and learn when they are necessary. A few of these often interchanged levels are sanitisation and disinfection.
What is sanitising?
Sanitising goes beyond basic cleaning by lowering the number of germs to acceptable levels according to public health standards instead of merely removing dirt from surfaces. Specifically, it utilises gentle chemicals to reduce, not kill, germs on surfaces.
This level of cleaning is best employed on surfaces that must be kept with safe levels of germs but must still be free from harsh chemicals.
Examples include areas for food preparation, utensils, and children’s toys to prevent the spread of foodborne illnesses and keep toys safe for children’s use, respectively.
If you intend to eliminate germs from surfaces and do not have to worry if the chemicals are too harsh for exposure, another level of cleaning that you must be acquainted with is disinfection.
What is disinfecting?
If sanitising only reduces the number of germs, disinfecting eliminates microorganisms from surfaces. Disinfection can be achieved using harsh chemicals like muriatic acid and high concentrations of bleach or items that can disable the germs’ ability to reproduce, like ultraviolet disinfection devices employed in hospitals.
Given this, disinfecting is considered the most powerful cleaning method for battling the spread of infections. However, the microorganisms that certain disinfectants can eliminate are also limited.
For instance, disinfectants have different potencies against viruses that were just recently discovered and studied, such as the SARS-CoV-2 or the COVID-19 virus.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), virucidal disinfectants like 0.05% sodium hypochlorite and ethanol-based products with at least 70% concentration are best for households confirmed to have a COVID-19 case. Hence, disinfectants must be chosen based on effectiveness and compatibility.
In conclusion, the level of cleaning we utilise mainly depends on the purpose and the safe levels of both contamination and chemical strength.
With these things to consider, it becomes imperative to ask ourselves, “Should I just clean, sanitise, or disinfect?”, every time we attempt to clean our things, houses, and even public areas. And when the need becomes too complicated for you to decide on your own, reliable cleaning services like Cleanrific can help you make your choices.