With a heightened focus on germs and trying to stay healthy, it is worthwhile to understand how cleaning and disinfecting can help contribute favorably to our health.
Cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting are part of a broad approach to prevent infectious diseases, and although these three words are sometimes used interchangeably, it’s important to note that they are distinct. So what exactly is the difference between them?
Cleaning = Removing germs.
Cleaning removes allergens and microorganisms from the environment. When a surface is cleaned, soap or detergent has been used to remove dirt, germs, and impurities. Cleaning helps to reduce the number of germs that can lead to infection, however, it does not necessarily kill germs.
Though cleaning removes germs and therefore has a positive impact on the health of indoor occupants, one issue with cleaning alone is a potential risk for cross-contamination when a disinfectant or germicide is not used.
Sanitizing = The germ count is lowered to a safe level as defined by public health standards.
There are a few different methods used to achieve a sanitary surface – heat, radiation, and chemicals. Sanitary surfaces can be created either by removing germs through cleaning, or killing germs through disinfecting.
In order to sanitize through the use of heat - steam, hot water, or hot air can be used at the appropriate temperature for the recommended amount of time.
For radiation – sanitation can be achieved through the use of ultraviolet radiation.
The chemicals that are effective sanitizers at the proper concentration include chlorine, iodine, and quaternary ammonium. Just as the dwell time must be followed for a disinfectant to be effective, a chemical sanitizer must also be allowed to sit for its recommended dwell time.
Additional factors that influence the efficacy of chemical sanitizers include temperature and concentration. Most chemical sanitizers should be kept between 55 degrees Fahrenheit and 120 degrees Fahrenheit. When the concentration of the sanitizing agent is too low, the microorganisms may survive. When the concentration is too high, it could be toxic.
Disinfecting = Germs are killed.
When you disinfect a surface it means that chemicals are being used to kill germs. Disinfecting does not necessarily mean that dirt, germs, and impurities will be removed from the surface, but by killing the germs, the risk of spreading infection is reduced.
In order for a disinfectant to kill germs, its labeled dwell time should always be followed. A dwell time, otherwise called a contact time, is the amount of time the manufacturer has determined the disinfectant should remain wet on a surface. If proper dwell times are not followed, germs and pathogens may survive the application.
Making sure the disinfectant stays wet is critical. There are a number of factors that play into how long the disinfectant will stay wet including the application method and composition of ingredients in the disinfectant you are using. In addition, the type of surface, the humidity, the air flow, and the temperature are all factors that can affect the amount of time it takes for the disinfectant to dry on the surface.
Understanding the differences between these key phrases can help you determine the level of cleanliness necessary for particular surfaces in your Pilates studio or space. Generally speaking, it is safe to clean surfaces when the risk of spreading pathogens from the surface is low. Disinfectants should be used on surfaces where there is a greater likelihood of pathogen transfer, such as Pilates mats.
What Virus Threats Mean for Your Studio Cleaning Routine
With the coronavirus dominating our news feeds, many Pilates praciticioners and studio owners are wondering how to prevent the spread of the virus. With this heightened emphasis on disinfecting surfaces, we are receiving many questions about how to balance disinfecting with not ruining expensive Pilates equipment. Here is an excellent blog post about how to disinfect your Pilates equipment by Kaleen - a Pilates teacher and engineer who solves equipment maintenance problems for studios and runs the website The Fit Reformer.