Cleaning and Disinfecting – Some Facts and Myths

June 03, 2020   |   Our services

Cleaning and Disinfecting – Some Facts and Myths

Getting on with Life in the time of Coronavirus.

The daily count of Covid-19 cases in the country and particularly in Chennai keep increasing, sharply. It appears, we are not yet close to the plateauing and declining stage of the daily count. We could be in it for the long haul.

Opening up and getting on with life seems inevitable, sooner or later – though the danger from the rampaging virus is more real now than at any time during the last two months.

As I mentioned in one of my earlier posts, Fear – the key to overcoming the fear of Covid-19, fear is still the key to emerging from this experience with as few scars as possible.

What else can we do to stay safe?

Many of us are paranoid about keeping us and our families safe. We keep asking ourselves – are there other ways of keeping safe?

Disinfection services is one of the solutions talked about. This post is intended to sift facts from perceptions – which sometimes borders on myths, concerning this subject.

Here are a few facts gleaned from my study of various authoritative sources in this field.

How do disinfectants destroy coronavirus?

Coronaviruses have a covering of a protective fat layer. Disinfectants tear apart that fat layer, making coronaviruses weak. Household disinfectants including soap or a diluted bleach solution are enough to deactivate coronaviruses on indoor surfaces. Of course, one should be aware of the dilution proportions and method of preparation.

Contaminated surfaces are a potential source for transmitting viruses and pathogens. Studies reveal that SARS-CoV-2 viruses can survive for several days on surfaces that we come into daily contact with. So, it is important to tackle spread of the virus through this source. Disinfection is the way to eliminate this risk.

But, disinfecting a home where there is no one infected with the virus is a wasted exercise. Because, coronavirus is not airborne and it cannot come into your home by itself. It can come only if someone brings it in. 

Cleaning and Disinfection - partners in busting the virus

WHO and The Centers for Disease control and Prevention (CDC) suggest combining cleaning and disinfecting.

“Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection. Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings”. (From, an authority site on disease control and prevention).

If there is any suspicion about the presence of coronavirus in any space, precautions should be taken even about the cleaning process. We should be careful not to do dry sweeping as that could re-aerosolize (making airborne again, in tiny particles) infectious particles.

At Service Square we insist on using red, green, blue and yellow microfiber clothes - each for different parts of a house or office - to avoid cross contamination. This is a good practice to adopt.

Is Fumigation or wide-area spraying of disinfectants the right method?

Though fumigation and anodized spraying is popular all over the world nowadays, it comes with certain risks.

World Health Organization (WHO), CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) in the US do not recommend use of fumigation or wide-area spraying to control COVID-19. 

When compressed air or water sprays are used to clean potentially contaminated surfaces, there is a chance these techniques may aerosolize infectious material.

J. Darrel Hicks, author of "Infection Control for Dummies says, “using a spray-maker is wrong on two levels. First, the surface is not made and kept sufficiently wet for a label’s prescribed amount of time to kill organisms. And, spraying disinfectants and other cleaning chemicals may cause chronic asthma and upper respiratory problems for cleaners who suffer the long-term effects.”

So, “spray and pray’ is perhaps the apt thing to resort to, in the context of existing disinfecting practices and the safety of the people doing the work.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that you clean contaminated surfaces with efficient liquid products, and then disinfect to prevent the spread of disease, following simpler and safer procedures. 

What then, is the right way to apply disinfectants on surfaces?

According to a WHO document released on May 15, 2020, “If disinfectants are to be applied, this should be done with a cloth or wipe that has been soaked in disinfectant.”

The best practice is the bucket method. You take a clean microfiber cloth, fold it in half, and fold it again so that you get eight surfaces to clean with. It is then dipped into a bucket containing the disinfectant diluted in the prescribed proportion. The affected surfaces - especially the high-touch areas - are then cleaned using the eight different surfaces of the microfiber cloth. It is important to ensure a soiled cloth never goes back into the bucket, but instead into a laundry bag. It goes without saying that the person applying the disinfectant should be protected with mask, gloves etc.

It’s crucial not to wipe off disinfecting solution as soon as you’ve applied it to a surface. Many disinfectant products, such as wipes and sprays, need to stay wet on a surface for several minutes in order to be effective. It is best for the disinfectant to dry completely before wiping surfaces clean.

As laptop displays are often made of plastic, it is recommended to avoid using a disinfecting wipe on the screen, just in case. The display should be cleaned with isopropyl alcohol (70 percent) solution and a soft towel. You can also wipe down the keyboard, the trackpad, the exterior, the mouse and where your wrists rest on the laptop. You can also give the same treatment to your mobile phone.

Is it effective, Spraying Disinfectants on Streets and on People?

Spraying disinfectants on the streets does not eliminate the new coronavirus and even poses a health risk, the World Health Organization warns. The reason is, disinfectants are inactivated by dirt and debris.

The WHO document also stresses that spraying individuals with disinfectants is “not recommended under any circumstances.”

“This could be physically and psychologically harmful and would not reduce an infected person’s ability to spread the virus through droplets or contact,” says the document.

Service Square offers both cleaning and disinfection services. We can help you clean and disinfect homes, offices and shops. We do it in a safe and effective way.

Power to you to get on with life, safely – sooner or later!

The post has been written after careful research into the subject, taking care to update the latest on the subject. But Covid-19 is a new virus and a new area of research even for the most seasoned epidemiologists. Therefore, authentic information about this field is a work in progress. We invite relevant insights on this subject from any of the readers of this post. We promise to share scientific and rational information with the world around us.

Babu Vincent

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