It is a common confusion among people to use antibacterial cleaning products when they, in fact, mean to disinfect a surface from possible viral contamination. Bacteria and viruses are different microorganisms and they are influenced in a different way by chemicals. So, treating spaces infected by viruses with antibacterial agents will simply take you nowhere.
You will be surprised how common antibacterial products are and we can bet you have at least 3 different types at home right now.
- ordinary soaps
- window cleaners
- cleaning wipes
- surface sprays
Many of these contain a chemical called triclosan. In the past, it was used primarily in hospitals and healthcare facilities, however, the wider availability of these products today has made the agent’s effectiveness weaker. Furthermore, research shows that the overuse of antibacterial cleaners has significantly contributed to the growing resistance of various bacteria and even the sprout of new superbugs. They are hard to kill with sanitisers and sometimes are not affected by common antibiotics.
Experts recommend that households avoid using antibacterial products too frequently unless suggested by a doctor. For hygiene at home, more often than not, regular cleaning is enough and if an extra protective layer is required, more natural solutions could be considered. Steam cleaning, for example, removes dirt and is a reliable sanitiser.
Virucidal Cleaning Product
Virucidal chemicals are used to destroy viruses or change their structure and prevent them from infecting a host. Work with such products requires more than common knowledge and sometimes specialised skills. Virucidal agents are not as widely available as antibacterial products and usually only trained professional cleaners have access to such disinfectants.
Like bacteria, different viruses also have different levels of resistance. Luckily, viruses like the herpes, HIV, influenza and coronavirus have a low resistance to virucidal treatment on surfaces. This means, they are easily destroyed outside of a living host.
The adenoviruses, which often cause respiratory or gastrointestinal illnesses, are harder to eliminate and infection from contact with a contaminated surface is still possible.
The most resilient and chemical-resistant viruses outside of a living host are the polio, noroviruses (vomiting, diarrhoea), coxsackieviruses (hand-foot-mouth disease) and parvoviruses (slapped-cheek disease). The majority of illnesses those viruses cause are not life-threatening, except polio. An infection with it is very serious and can lead to paralysis or even death.
Over 99% of all known viruses can be destroyed with steam treatment. In professional cleaning teams, steam cleaners like the EV machine are often used not only for removal of stains, but also for disinfection and improving the air quality.
Disinfection, Sanitisation, Cleaning
You probably noticed that when we talked about bacteria we used the word ‘sanitisation’ and when we moved on to viruses, we switched to ‘disinfection’. This is not by coincidence. Many people believe these two words are synonyms and often add cleaning to the list. In reality, all three have a different meaning.
Cleaning – removes dirt and organic elements from a surface with the help of an ordinary soap or common detergents.
Sanitising – kills bacteria on surfaces with the help of chemicals. Sanitisers cannot kill viruses. Handsanitisers remove pathogens from hands.
Disinfection – kills both viruses and bacteria with the help of chemicals. There are different disinfectants that affect bacteria and viruses – antibacterial and virucidal or antiviral.