these surfaces can serve as a vehicle for the transmission of microbial diseases, justifying the use of the disinfectant.

When to disinfect: Disinfecting a surface provides immediate but short-lived protection. It will be contaminated again and will have lost its disinfected and ‘safe’ status as soon as it is touched again - which can sometimes happen a few seconds aſter disinfection. It has been shown that a disinfected surface can return to its original level of contamination (in terms of microbial load) within 2.5 hours or six hours aſter its disinfection, depending on the microbes present. Indeed, in a hospital setting, disinfection was not found to make a significant difference in the colony numbers of certain bacteria, with microbial surface loads being indistinguishable 30 minutes before and 30 minutes aſter the disinfection procedure.

Since it would be impractical and excessive to disinfect a surface each time it is touched, maintenance programs generally provide one disinfection per day when disinfection is required. This frequency can be increased if necessary, depending on the situation and the traffic in a given location.


Like everything, to disinfect a surface, you must do it correctly and observe the following application conditions:

• Apply the disinfectant on a recently cleaned surface (the activity of most disinfectants is reduced if used on unclean surfaces; the most effective regimen is precleaning, followed by disinfection.)

• Use the correct concentration of disinfectant, as prescribed by the manufacturer.

• Adhere to the wet contact time prescribed by the manufacturer.

If these conditions are not met, you have not properly disinfected the surface and cannot expect to obtain the benefits sought by the disinfection process.

In summary, there are only two situations where it is justified to disinfect:

If you can comply with the three application conditions required to ensure effective disinfection (listed above).

• When there is a real risk of disease transmission or infection via a critical area or surface (e.g. a door handle, tap, pay phone, keyboard etc. – not walls and floors).

Besides these two situations, there is no beneficial reason to try to disinfect surfaces.

Recognising that guidance arising from the current pandemic talks about the disinfection of critical high-touch points, you should:

• Target only frequently-affected high-touch surfaces that could potentially serve as a vector for the transmission of a disease.

• Comply with the dilutions, procedures and wet contact time required and only disinfect recently cleaned surfaces.

• Considering the human and environmental risks and consequences associated with the overuse of disinfectants, it is difficult to find a valid reason, with little to no advantage, that justifies systematic disinfection of all surfaces. In most cases, good surface cleaning procedures provide an appropriate level of security.

• Remember, the best possible protection against microbial infections starts with an individual’s personal hygiene - starting with healthy hand hygiene. - 25 -

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