Should daily cleaning go further? And how far keeps you safe?

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Hazmat girl
Yes, you CAN get better protection than from just mop and bucket

Yeah, yeah, we do daily cleaning to get rid of the dirt. The place would be a mess otherwise – a breeding ground for germs.

Which uncovers the real reason for all the rubbing and scrubbing. We’re doing it for our health.

But most times just LOOKING clean is not enough. We need to know we’re safe.

Rub and scrub needs more

Which means somehow mop and sponge need more oomph – without making the place stink of bleach. Finding a way of getting into all the nooks and crannies. Because even scrubbing with a toothbrush will not reach everywhere. Those germs are microscopic – they look at us and laugh.

OK, so first germ-killing requirement – clean everything as usual, THEN disinfect. And whatever we’re using has to reach everywhere.

Especially underneath things, on top of them, down the back, and all the way behind. Places that don’t usually get cleaned.  Too difficult to reach by hand. Unused or forgotten corners. Out of sight, out of mind.

And how about the space we move around in – the air?

Most germs are tiny, less than 3 microns across. At that size, bacteria, viruses and fungal spores can ride the air – lighter than smoke. They’re up there, so almost weightless they may never come down. Waiting to settle on your skin, on the food you’re about to nosh – or for you to breathe in.

Impossible by hand

Uh huh. If your cleaning job has to get rid of germs, it has to do the air too.  That’s around 80% of the space in an average room. Never usually gets a look at, does it?

No chance ordinary 9-to-5 cleaning can hack it. And there’s even less chance if it’s done by hand.

Better by smart machine. Clean the place as usual to get rid of visible dirt. Then press one button and Bob’s your uncle.

Fortunately there are such jobbies – all of them designed to disinfect the air as well as surfaces.

Ultraviolet generators kill germs by exposure to UV light. Wheel the unit in, make sure everybody’s out, shut the doors and windows, press the button.  The thing emits UV rays in all directions for about 5 minutes, killing 99.99% of bacteria and viruses – a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 4.

The problem is though, that only germs in direct line of sight from the machine are destroyed. Anything behind or under something gets missed. Either the machine gets repositioned for another go, or that “shadow” area goes unprocessed.

Other machines fog the room out with airborne disinfectant – usually a spray of hydrogen peroxide. This kills bacteria and viruses by oxidising – shoving oxygen atoms at them, ripping apart their cell structure. Very effective, if done right.

Exactly how they disperse the fog – and how effective they are at nailing the germs, is critical.

Call in the air force

Hydrogen peroxide vapour for instance, needs a strong concentration to be effective – 32% or more. This makes it a hazardous substance to work with, harmful to body tissue.

Its droplets are also heavier, more full of moisture and less able to ride the air. Dispersal is patchy and a drying process is necessary afterwards – a bit iffy with electrical cables and corrosive with some materials.

What’s needed is a low concentration of low temperature dry mist. Eco-friendly stuff that spreads evenly everywhere. No moisture. No damage to metal or plastics. No danger to cables and connections. Only mildly irritant to eyes and throat – but then folks should be out of there anyway.

The difference comes in IONISING the hydrogen peroxide.

Remember how boiling changes the state of water into steam? So ionising changes the state of ultra-fine hydrogen peroxide vapour into a plasma.

Super-gas, gas, gas

What’s a plasma? A kind of super-gas in which all the particles are charged. And because they all carry the same charge, they actively repel each other, jostling strongly, thrusting to get away.

This forces them out, driving in all directions. All through the air. Hard up against walls, floors and ceilings. Deep into cracks and crevices, wherever they can push to escape each other.

Bad news for viruses and bacteria because they are charged too. But with opposite polarity – so the rapidly dispersing hydrogen peroxide particles grab at them like a magnet.

Clutched in a vice-grip, unable to escape, they’re dead within seconds.

They never have a chance anyway. Ionising the hydrogen peroxide releases other antimicrobials as well – boosting the potency of the plasma. Hydroxyl radicals, oxygen species, nitrogen species, ozone and ultraviolet. No way any germs are coming back from that.

OK, so how’s it done?

The machine we like is a nifty thing called a Hypersteriliser. Wheel it in, hit the button, give it 40 minutes for the stuff to disperse and activate. Easy-peasy.

A million times safer

Vent the room as a precaution afterwards, though there should be no residues. The action of oxidising germs turns the hydrogen peroxide back to harmless oxygen and water – which immediately evaporates. A microscopic layer of colloidal silver remains on all surfaces – a protective antimicrobial barrier that lasts up to a week.

Result? All germs are dead down to just 1 in a million – 99.9999% destroyed, to a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6. Reckon you can say you’re safe.

Certainly way safer than mop and bucket, which probably gets rid of only 90% – around 1 in 100,000. Not good if that 100,00 includes this year’s flu virus – or a stomach-twisting dose of norovirus.

So yes, you can take daily cleaning routines a lot further – just by pressing a button.

No need for the hazmat suit. You’re up to a million times safer.

Picture Copyright: stockasso / 123RF Stock Photo

Originally posted 2016-10-10 11:58:45.