What is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?
Cleaning means physically removing germs, dirt and organic matter from surfaces.
Disinfecting means using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. It’s important to clean surfaces before disinfecting because organic matter and dirt can reduce the ability of disinfectants to kill germs.
A combination of cleaning and disinfection will be most effective in removing the COVID-19 virus. Cleaning removes soil from the surface, allowing the disinfectant to work and kill the COVID-19 virus. Disinfectant may not kill the virus if the surface has not been cleaned with a detergent first.
Employers need to frequently clean touch points at least daily. More attention needs to be given to tabletops, desks, light switches, toilets, taps, door and cupboard handles, kitchen surfaces, hand rails, etc. Ideally, the surfaces should be disinfected after a proper cleaning. Both the cleaning and disinfection can be done together.
Whether disinfection should be done together with cleaning will depend on the likelihood of contaminated surfaces being present at the premises.
The following steps need to be taken when cleaning:
- Gloves should be worn and these gloves should be discarded immediately after cleaning.
- TGA approved disinfectants need to be used for disinfecting the surfaces. It should be noted that the disinfectants will not kill germs if the surface is not clean.
- To kill COVID-19 effectively, the disinfectant should remain on the surface for the period specified by the manufacturer. If the disinfectant manufacturer has not specified the time, the disinfectant should remain on the surface for at least 10 minutes.
The following cleaning procedures should be performed if any person in the workplace is suspected or confirmed to be infected with COVID-19.
In this scenario, all areas suspected to be contaminated should be disinfected. The disinfection procedure must occur in all areas that are suspected to have been touched by the infected person(s).
The entire workplace should be cleaned during this process. The cleaning and disinfecting should occur before other employees return to the workplace.
Whether operations need to be suspended at your workplace will depend on factors such as the size of the workplace, nature of work, number of people, and suspected areas of contamination.
The correct detergent and water should be used to clean hard surfaces. Further, employees need to follow the manufactures guidelines when cleaning and disinfecting soft surfaces.