The Limits of Conventional Cleaning

The Limits of Conventional Cleaning

What does it mean to say a surface is clean? The answer depends on who you ask.

In a typical family’s kitchen, you might call a surface clean if it’s free of clutter and doesn’t show food stains. A few crumbs in the corners might not bother you, let alone the mishmash of bacteria lurking on the sponge used to wipe everything down.

A restaurant needs to use a different standard of clean. Its reputation and even its license to operate can hinge on keeping preparation surfaces free of pathogens that could make customers sick.

Now consider a hospital’s idea of what it means to be clean. A waiting room needs to meet one standard, while a surgical room needs to meet another. Facilities with immunocompromised patients may need to apply a surgical standard across a whole building. It’s a real challenge.

Seven problems with conventional cleaning products

Conventional cleaning often doesn’t produce the kind of clean surfaces people hope to achieve. Worse, it can have harmful side effects that make cleaning harder in the future. Here are some of the more important limits of conventional cleaners:

  • Few people have the time to kill. Spray disinfectants need to stay wet on the surface for a period of time to work. That period goes by various names in the industry: contact time and kill time are common choices. While a liquid disinfectant can eventually kill bacteria, mold, and other microorganisms, the person doing the work practically needs to set a timer for every spray. In the real world, that’s not a practical solution. 
  • The labor cost of spray, rinse, repeat. Many conventional cleaners leave residues that really should be rinsed off before a surface can be called clean. Add up the required contact time and time to rinse and wipe. Now multiply that by every surface that needs cleaning and think about how much labor is required to clean an entire office building following the proper procedures. As an example, the popular disinfectant 409 suggests allowing 30 seconds of thoroughly wet contact with a surface before rinsing and wiping clean. Does everyone who uses 409 really follow those steps? We doubt it.
  • Volume of product. Because a conventional cleaner needs to be reapplied to work again, end users who want to keep their surfaces reliably protected need a big supply of the stuff. Some organizations apply products two or three times per day in sensitive areas, because it is the only way they’ve found to control bioload. With high volumes come high costs, both in terms of the product itself and in terms of inventory storage.
  • Pushing bugs around instead of killing them. The slow kill time of conventional cleaners has another side effect. An application that isn’t thoroughly wet across the whole surface will leave gaps even if the user leaves adequate time for microorganisms to die. But if the user doesn’t wait long enough, wiping off the cleaning solution will just spread the germs to the edges, where they’ll be more likely to avoid the next cleaning. 
  • Toxic gasses and residues. Some conventional cleaners contain harmful chemicals that can linger on a surface long after the product has dried. Others release powerful chemicals into the air as they’re applied. For example, the EPA has restricted the use of products containing 2-butoxyethanol in workplaces, but that hasn’t stopped manufacturers from including it in products marketed as household cleaners. Chlorine, ammonia, and other potentially dangerous substances are common ingredients that are not healthy to have around.
  • A different product for every surface. You wouldn’t use a glass cleaner to clean your conference room table. What about the cushions of the couch in the employee lounge, or the doorknobs of common area bathrooms? To completely clean the surfaces of any room chances are you’ll need three or four different products, each with different performance characteristics. The result is even more inventory and labor.
  • Evolution under fire. Conventional antibacterial agents like triclosan and the family of chemicals referred to as QUATS (short for quaternary ammonium compounds) have been proven to encourage the development of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Products with these types of chemicals don’t just fail to make a surface clean, they can actually make the environment even harder to protect in the future.

PreventX 24/7™ bridges the gap left by conventional cleaners

If a surface is protected against microbes, reliably cleaning it becomes much easier. PreventX 24/7™ from NewEraSOS is an antimicrobial surface treatment engineered to be safe and durable for up to 90 days following application. When mold, mildew, bacteria, fungus, and other microbes come into contact with a surface that has been treated with PreventX 24/7™, tiny carbon “needles” breach their cell walls, effectively destroying or inactivating them. What’s more, PreventX 24/7™ can be applied to any surface - quickly and cost-effectively.

To learn more about PreventX 24/7™ read our brochure here.

NewEraSOS isn’t just a reseller. We’re a group of scientists dedicated to helping you get the most from your surface protection solutions. How can we help you? Send us an email or give us a call at 1-888-637-6760 ext. 150.