Should we be disinfecting everything?

by Ken Buckley on 21-4-2017

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Is it good practice to use a Cleaner Disinfectant or Sanitiser for all cleaning in a school, office or workplace? 

Many seem to think so. Surely it pays to be safe, you know, belt n braces and all that?

Or does it? 

The use of boicides is common place in our world. (A biocidal product is one which controls harmful or unwanted organisms through chemical or biological means) 

If fact we see biocides every where we look, in socks treated with an "odour control" treatment, preserved wood as well as the more obvious, disinfectant cleaners and Antibac wipes.

A simple definition of the word "Biocide" is "the destruction of life."




Problems with using Biocides

  • They are harmful to "Life" 
  • They will not work properly without contact time and correct dilution 
  • They can lead to the rise of chemical resistant bacteria 
  • Can cause contact dermatitis 
  • Can cause asthma 
  • Suspected link to other health problems (more research needed) 

Using a weak solution of a Cleaner Disinfectant as a general cleaner is not good practice. If you don't need a full strength disinfectant then you don't need a disinfectant.

A weak solution of a Biocide or using a Biocide without the needed contact time, will potentially allow bacteria to create a resistance to the biocide. 

Using a Biocide where you don't need to, increases persons exposure to potentially harmful substances. 


Do we need to disinfect everything?

The desire to disinfect everything is understandable, everyone wants to show due diligence. No one wants to be accused of negligence. If we can say that we use a disinfectant on everything,  it will give everyone peace of mind.

Some surfaces obviously need and must be disinfected, touch surfaces in a public use washroom, a floor that a child has just vomited on, surfaces where food is prepared.

What about desks in a classroom or office desks? Should they be cleaned with a disinfectant or sanitiser? 

Should we be disinfecting every surface we touch? 

The answer is no, of course we don't need to. 


A cleaning problem

Over the years the thought of having one cleaning chemical to clean everything has come up many times, with many products being offered. 

More often than not these products are biocidal, indeed they need to be if you are going to clean a public use washroom with them. 

From a purely "cleaning" point of view this is not a good solution. 

One cleaning chemical cannot for, for instance, descale a toilet, sanitise a food prep surface, clean a desk, clean internal glass or clean a polished floor.

A disinfectant cleaner is, by definition, not that good at cleaning a dirty floor, a hard surface cleaner would do a much better job here. 

If you try to have a one-cap-fits-all approach to cleaning chemicals, you will end up with one that does nothing well. Like a jack-of-all-trades and a master on none.

You don't need dozens of products, but 3 or 4 cleaning chemicals is probably what you need.  

Another point,  if you are commercially minded, disinfectant cleaners are generally double the cost-in-use of a hard surface cleaner. 


Using disinfectant, sanitisers, biocides on every surface is, in my opinion harmful and not needed. Only use a boicide where you need to and then make sure it is the right strength and you leave it for the right contact time (otherwise you might as well not use one at all). 

You might also be interested in our blog  "Do you need Antibac Soap?


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