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which actually kills the remaining germs, such as influenza viruses.
2. Clean frequently touched surfaces – frequently. Daily clean and disinfect
surfaces and objects that are frequently touched, such as desks, countertops, doorknobs,
and faucet handles. Frequency may be increased when there is a known outbreak.
3. Know your germs. It’s important to match your cleaning and disinfecting activities
to the types of germs you want to remove. For example, studies have shown that the flu
virus can live and potentially infect a person for two to eight hours after being deposited
on a surface. Therefore, it is not necessary to close facilities overnight to clean or disinfect
every surface in the building to slow the spread of flu.
4. Choose the right product. In selecting an appropriate disinfectant, read the label
to make sure it states it is approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for
the environmental pathogen of concern. For example, for the flu, select products deemed
effective against the influenza A virus.
5. Clean and disinfect correctly. Always follow label directions on cleaning products
and disinfectants. It is important to note that the directions on most disinfectant products
require the surface to first be cleaned with a general purpose cleaner to remove germs.
When an EPA-registered disinfectant is called for, be sure to follow the label directions
on the disinfectant for dwell time – the amount of time necessary for the disinfectant to
reside on the surfaces. Also, and make sure the surface remains wet during the dwell time
to properly disinfect and kill the germs. If time is an issue, select disinfectants that have
shorter dwell times compared to other competitive products.
If a surface is not visibly dirty, you can clean it with an EPA-registered product that
both cleans (removes germs) and disinfects (kills germs). Be sure to read the label
directions carefully, as there may be a separate procedure for using the product as a
cleaner or as a disinfectant.
Use disinfecting wipes on electronic items that are touched often, such as phones and
computers. Pay close attention to the directions for using disinfecting wipes. It may be necessary
to use more than one wipe to keep the surface wet for the stated length of contact time. Make
sure that the electronics can withstand the use of liquids for cleaning and disinfecting.
6. Train for safety. Ensure that all those who use cleaners and disinfectants read and
understand all instruction labels and understand safe and appropriate use. This might
require that instructional materials and training be provided in other languages.
Keeping hands clean is also one of the most important steps we can take to avoid spreading
germs and getting sick. For example, studies show that proper hand washing reduces:
• Respiratory illnesses in the general population by 21 percent
• The number of people sickened with diarrhea by 31 percent
• Diarrheal illness in people with weakened immune systems by 58 percent
How to wash your hands
While it is an activity that we are all familiar with, a recent study indicated that 95
percent of people observed washing their hands were doing it incorrectly. Therefore, it is
worthwhile to re-examine proper handwashing technique to ensure maximum removal of
1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the water, and apply soap.
2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Be sure to lather the backs
of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds (some say as long as it takes to sing Happy
Birthday to yourself)
4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or hot air dryer – being sure they are fully dry
(studies show germs and bacteria thrive on wet hands).
Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to reduce the number of microbes
on them in most situations. However, if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-
based hand sanitiser, which can quickly reduce the number of microbes on hands in some
situations. Keep in mind, however, that sanitisers do not eliminate all types of germs.
*Bill Balek is ISSA Environmental & Legislative Affairs director and can be reached at
Reprinted with per mission from ISSA Today magazine (February 15, 2015), which is published
by ISSA, the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, www.issa.com
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