Cleaning vs disinfecting: top tips from Winc’s Medical and Health Specialist

Cleaning vs disinfecting: top tips from Winc’s Medical and Health Specialist

While we are still learning to live with COVID-19, organisations have increased cleaning procedures in the workplace to help prevent the spread of bacteria and viruses. However, it’s crucial to have the right knowledge and tools to achieve an effective clean.

We reached out to Terri Goldstein, Medical and Health Specialist at Winc, to explain the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Terri has over 15 years of healthcare experience managing multiple facilities in the Aged and Community Care sectors in Australia and is a member of ACIPC (Australasian College of Infection Prevention and Control).

Know the difference

Cleaning and disinfecting are commonly confused but knowing the difference between the two is crucial. Terri explains, “cleaning is the physical removal of germs, dirt and grime on a surface to lower the risk of infection. A detergent and water are generally used to break up oil and grease but cleaning does not effectively kill germs. Disinfecting, on the other hand, is the chemical process of killing germs on a surface to stop their reproduction.”

Terri tip: Visibly dirty surfaces should always be cleaned with a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection as the presence of dirt and grime can reduce the effectiveness of disinfectants.

Effective disinfectants

Terri tip: The use of diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, disinfectant wipes and EPA (Environment Protection Act) registered household disinfectants are all considered effective disinfectants.

“When handling hazardous cleaning chemicals such as bleach, it’s important to understand the risks and have knowledge on proper use. Refer to reliable sources such as Safe Work Australia for more information and always follow the directions on product labels,” says Terri. To help safeguard employees from the risk of spreading bacteria, hard surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected frequently with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants.1

Shared environments

Terri tip: If you’re working in an office environment or shared space, it’s important that high-touch surfaces are regularly disinfected. These areas include doorknobs, light switches, desks, sinks and kitchen counters to name a few.

Terri tells us, “at a minimum, frequently touched surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at least once daily. For high traffic workplaces, more frequent disinfection is advised.” Provide easy access to hand sanitiser and antibacterial spray at convenient locations throughout the workplace. “Check to ensure products have not passed their expiration date as expired products may not be effective in killing the germs,” she advises.

Thorough handwashing

Terri tip: To help reduce the spread of bacteria, wash your hands thoroughly and regularly – after blowing your nose, coughing, sneezing, using the restroom and before eating or preparing food.

Ensure that bathrooms and kitchen facilities are always stocked with antibacterial hand wash and disinfectant spray so employees can do their part in keeping the workplace safe and hygienic.

With a team of health, hygiene and safety (HHS) specialists, Winc can support organisations with everything they need to help maintain a safe workplace. Speak to one of our HHS specialists for tailored advice on the best solutions for your organisation’s needs or shop our range online.

Terri Goldstein, Medical and Health Specialist at Winc