Tag Archives: OPA

Why most deep cleans are not as deep as you think

Sceptical businesswoman
Shouldn’t a deep clean sterilise a room AND the air that’s in it?

Sounds impressive, doesn’t it? Deep clean.

Definitely the thing for emergencies and beginning-of-project preparations. To make things safe and free from risk of infection. More high-powered than a regular wash down.

Somehow you imagine that scrubbing is longer and harder. That everything is stripped to its bare bones, then reassembled. That super octane chemicals are involved – face mask and breathing apparatus territory, you can just see the stuff fuming off the walls.

If only

Back to earth, spaceman.

Yes, most deep cleans involve more rubbing and scrubbing, but not a hell of a lot else. They may also include more areas – high contact surfaces like door handles, keypads and remote controls – in addition to the usual worktops and floors.

The big expectation of course is that they do more than remove dirt. The whole purpose of the exercise is to kill germs – not just clean, but safe. Two jobs at once, wipe away the visible dirt, clobber the nasty microbes.

Yeah, right.

Time to actually work

Ask yourself one question. What’s the contact time?

Removing dirt is a physical thing – wipe, wipe, it’s visibly gone. Not the same with germs. Bacteria, viruses, fungi, moulds – they all know how to hang on. They’re too small to see anyway, so it’s impossible to know if they’re there.

Count on it, they are. And they’re only going to get clobbered if the active whatever in the miracle gop being used has sufficient time to do its job. Wham, bam, thank you ma’am is not going to crack it.

So if the job looks like it’s just wipe, wipe, finish, you can bet that germs have hardly been touched. Just because you can smell bleach doesn’t mean it’s doing anything. It needs a contact time of at least ten minutes before anything happens – and that depends on how concentrated it is too.

Yes, bleach makes your eyes water and rips the top of your head off, but as a germ-killer it’s a medium-weight also-ran. And ten minutes with even half a bottle of the stuff dumped in a bucket of water is still nowhere near enough.

Worse in fact, because the bleach kills some of the germs but not all of them. And bacteria particularly are masters at survival. The stronger ones that don’t die off keep multiplying as bacteria always do.

Twenty minutes and there’s a whole new bleach-resistant variety on the go – accelerating madly if where they are is warm and damp – like a countertop in a centrally-heated kitchen, briskly wiped down with a moist rag.

Not good enough.

Demand more

Which means shifting to a more high-powered kind of germ-killer – glutaraldehyde, formaldehyde, ortho-phthalaldehyde, peracetic acid or hydrogen peroxide – most of which drop the necessary contact time down to 30 seconds – again depending on strength and method of application.

Problem right there. Formaldehyde is regulated as a carcinogen and banned across the European Union. Glutaraldehyde is highly toxic and unstable in storage. Ortho-phthalaldehyde (OPA) stains the skin. And peracetic acid corrodes brass, copper, steel and iron.

Which leaves hydrogen peroxide – the same stuff that our own bodies produce naturally to fight infection. It attacks viruses and bacteria by oxidising them, reverting back to small quantities of harmless oxygen and water.

Now we’re cooking with gas.

Antimicrobial air force

Quite literally if the stuff is sprayed into the air after physical scrubbing of worktops, floors and other surfaces has already removed physical dirt. Because the expectation of a deep clean is not just that it disinfects all surfaces, it ought to STERILISE THE ROOM.

And doing the surfaces is only part of the job – pretty well 80% of any room is the air space we move around in. Never touched by ordinary cleaning methods, but alive with all kinds of unseen material – dust, fluff, the air we breathe – and billions and billions of viruses and bacteria.

Which makes treating the air the main part of the job – exactly what airborne hydrogen peroxide does.

It gets even better. If the hydrogen peroxide is ionised – charged with high voltage electricity as it’s dispersed – it changes state from a gas vapour to a plasma, forcing its individual particles away from each other and actively grabbing at airborne viruses and bacteria as it does so.

Becoming a plasma unlocks other high-powered antimicrobials too – hydroxyl radicals, reactive oxygen species, reactive nitrogen species, ozone (a more voracious oxidiser than hydrogen peroxide), and ultraviolet.

Viruses and bacteria don’t stand a chance. Allowing forty minutes for effective dispersal and proper contact time across the entire space, ALL of them are dead down to less than one in a million – 99.9999% destroyed. Or as the medics prefer to put it, a Sterility Assurance Level of Log 6.

Sound like a proper deep clean to you?

OK, now you just need a Hypersteriliser to achieve it – a small but nifty wheelie-bin sized automatic unit that makes total room sterility as easy as pie. If your cleaning service isn’t using one, better jump up and down until they do.

Deep clean means NO MORE GERMS, not just scratching the surface.

Picture Copyright: auremar / 123RF Stock Photo