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Germ Control is All About Washing Away Soil Correctly

If Its Clean, Its Sanitary

Here is a question recently asked of me…
The influenza threat is here and our infection control person says that the best way to control the virus germ is to wash everything with bleach. I have trained my staff to focus on cleaning thoroughly… Remove the dirt. Which is correct?

When dealing with buildings, infection control people need to think more like custodians and less like medical people.

Infections happen when an immune system is attacked by more germs than what it can fight off. Antibiotics are given to kill a force of germs that are beyond an immune systems “fire power”. The antibiotic is not expected to kill 100% of the targeted germs. Once the excess number of germs are killed, the immune system returns to normalcy and keeps body germ counts under control.

Soil holds germs. Germs dont have stomachs to hold soil. Removing soil removes germs. Thus, germs can only be present if soil is present.

Washing with a solution of high-performance detergent mixed with cold water is what is necessary to achieve safe sanitation levels. During peak cold and/or flu season, add a clean water rinse step after washing or mopping. A normal immune system can handle the germs that may be picked-up from a “clean” surface.

If bleach, disinfectants, or sanitizers (germicides) are used as a washing agent, residue (soil) is left behind. The soil contains germs that survived the attack because they were resistant to the germicide. The resistant germs will also survive repeated germicidal washings and virtually take over the soil population.

Soil infested with resistant germs has an increased risk for causing very serious infections.
Airborne soil particles are created when left-behind soil gets pulverized by foot traffic or sliding objects. Like germs on “magic carpets”, billions of micro-size pieces of soil, with germs on board, move with the air flow placing an unnecessary strain on the air-handling system.

The EPA requires that germicide product container labels state that if the surface is soiled, the soil must be removed (pre-cleaned) before the treatment solution is applied.

Germicidal products must pass EPA testing or they cannot be sold in the US. Product label must say that misusing the EPA-registered product is violating federal law.

Important: Germicides are not magic liquids that ensure “never ending” germ kill no matter how the product is used. Theyre designed to leave a germ-killing film that kills only if the surface upon which it is appliedis clean. If the micro-size pieces of airborne soil and germs land on the surface, they are held and killed. One-time kill, thats it.

Once the surface is contaminated, its back to washing, rinsing, and reapplying the germicidal solution. For example: Hospital surfaces where surgical procedures are performed get washed, rinsed, and retreated after each procedure to awaits next use.

Bottom Line: From top administrators to an entire cleaning team, everyone must be on the same page for understanding and/or practicing correct cleaning protocol–focus on minimizing surface germ count.

Rule-of-thumb:If its clean, its sanitary.

As always, thank you for allowing me into your day. The Gabriel Team looks forward to serving you.