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Environmental Cleaning


Cleaning is the physical removal of dirt and organic materials from inanimate objects and/or surfaces. Cleaning is accomplished by using detergent, water, and applying friction to the contaminated area. The friction created by the physical rubbing of the contaminated area will remove some of the germs (e.g., bacteria, viruses, parasites, moulds) however it does not kill those organisms that remain on the surface.

Cleaning is an important first step in removing disease causing organisms from the environment. Surfaces not cleaned may allow dirt and organic matter to blanket germs and reduce the effectiveness of chemical disinfectants.

Sanitizing and disinfection

Sanitizers or disinfectants are, in most cases, a chemical product used after the inanimate object or surface has been cleaned. Both can reduce the amount of microorganisms to acceptable limits. The difference being that a sanitizer will reduce the number of microorganisms, whereas a disinfectant will kill or inactivate all microorganisms with the exception of bacterial spores.

Note: Sanitizing can also be achieved by using water at a high temperature (e.g., mechanical dishwashers with a sanitizer cycle of at least 82°C/180°F or higher).

Commercial chemical sanitizers and disinfectants must be used in strict accordance with the manufacturer’s directions. Some important points to remember are:

  • the nature of the contaminated item and/or surface;
  • the disinfectant must have a have a Drug Identification Number (DIN) from Health Canada;
  • directions for proper dilution and application;
  • contact time required (i.e., time to achieve disinfection), generally 10 minutes;
  • statement as to rinse requirements (e.g., for food contact surfaces); and
  • possible health risks such as skin or respiratory irritation and allergies.

To ensure sufficient chemical strength, solutions are to be prepared fresh daily (unless otherwise specified on the label).