The difference between clean and safe

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Mum and baby hands
Most of the time, clean just isn’t enough

Chores done. Spic and span.

And the floor looks so good you could eat your breakfast off it.

Really?

Prepared to risk a tummy ache for it?

Beyond appearances

For all you know, that floor could be covered in germs. And how would you know? They’re so small you need a microscope to see them.

OK, soap and water does get rid of a lot of stuff . Dirt certainly, you can see that.

And yes, probably a whole stack of germs.

By making that floor – or anything else – clean, you have basically “sanitised” it.

If before you started there were a million germs to a square inch – harmful pathogens, viruses or bacteria – you have now pulled them down to 100,000, a reduction of 90%.

Assuming of course, that you have cleaned thoroughly – not just slopped with a mop and stopped for a coffee.

Personal hygiene

It’s the same with your hands.

A proper clean with soap and water for at least thirty seconds – or with alcohol gel if there’s no facilities – will get rid of 90% of germs.

Medics and science boffins call this a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 1. If you scrub for five minutes or so, like operating staff do, you get rid of 99% – a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 2.

But there’s a catch. All bacteria have the power to divide and multiply. One cell becomes two, two become four, four become sixteen – etcetera.

And since 10% of them are left, they’ll be at it immediately.

Warm, moist conditions accelerate this. So if whatever you’ve just cleaned isn’t dry, those germs will be racing to replace themselves. That 10% of germs can double in 20 minutes. In less than two hours, they could be back to full strength.

And germs like flu viruses can survive on your skin for 24 hours. Other bacteria can survive for weeks. (Tweet this)

Makes you think twice about the towel you use, doesn’t it? If it’s still damp – and it’s likely to be – the next person who comes along is going to pick up whatever you left. That’s why air blade dryers are so much safer – your hands get dry without leaving anything behind.

Thank goodness.

Because out of all the millions and millions of bacteria that might be around (there always are), it only takes 10 cells of something nasty like e.coli to make you very sick indeed.

This means war

So how about if you deliberately set out to kill germs? Use a disinfectant like Domestos or Dettol?

Depending on the strength and preparation of the stuff you’re using, you’ll reduce germ levels – the number of colony forming units of viruses or bacteria – by anything from 99.9% to 99.999%. That’s a Sterility Assurance Level from Log 3 to Log 5. (Just count the number of 9s).

Pretty good, but not really serious if infection is a problem – like when everyone’s come down with norovirus, or flu is spreading like wildfire.

Going the whole hog is to sterilise everything. To destroy all viruses and bacteria completely. Reduce those million germs you started with down to nothing – all non-pathogenic and pathogenic spores, fungi and viruses.

The science boys shake their heads at that, since it’s not always provable. The best they’re prepared to accept is reducing the million down to one, or 99.9999%. This puts us at a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.

Making safe

Safe enough?

For sure. And it’s achievable in as little as twenty minutes by misting up the room with ionised hydrogen peroxide.

Ionising makes hydrogen peroxide particles become supercharged – acting far more powerfully than they would otherwise. They kill on contact without needing to saturate the atmosphere. The dry mist reaches everywhere, sterilising the air as well as all surfaces.

Well you don’t get flu by sniffing the table, do you?

And ionised hydrogen peroxide can be used pretty well anywhere in an enclosed space. You just roll in the electronic robot unit – it’s about the size of a small wheelie-bin – close all the doors and windows, hit the button and leave.

Result, a sterilised room with a germ threshold of zero. Your kid’s classroom, your office, your hotel room – anywhere you might be a risk.

Washed your hands?

You’re off to a good start.

Originally posted on 26 August 2018 @ 6:40 pm

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