How clean is clean?

Is your disinfectant fit for purpose?

Businesses that are getting to grips with best hygiene practice during the COVID-19 pandemic can be forgiven for being unsure about product choice, as it’s a consistently grey area whatever the nature of your organisation or facility.

You’ve probably upped the frequency of your cleaning rota already, but have you assessed how suitable the cleaning products and processes you use are?

As anyone who works with us knows, we know our cleaning items inside out and are more than happy to chat all about the merits of what would best suit your particular needs. And if you’ve already had such a conversation with us, you might well know we have a number of bugbears with common cleaning practices that, to be blunt, simply are not fit for purpose!

We thought it might be useful to explain our top five bugbears, and help you avoid falling into the trap of thinking that just because something looks clean, it really is clean, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

  1. Is your chemical fit for purpose?

Depending on your requirements, there are certain things to keep an eye out for, especially when it comes to the standards and regulations that your chemicals need to meet.

If you want to kill bacteria then you need to look out for a BS EN 1276 certification, which means that a cleaning product is antibacterial. This European standard is used in the hospitality industry and food preparation environments and standardises the effectiveness of chemical disinfectants. To qualify for it, a ‘5 log’ (the name for the measurement applied in such tests) reduction in test bacteria must be achieved at a specified dilution, and it must kill 99.999% of bacteria within five minutes at 20 degrees Celsius. Many of our chemicals far supercede this time, tested to be effective in just 30 seconds.

Meanwhile, if you want to kill viruses you need to be looking for EN 14476, which is the virucidal activity test. This certification means the cleaning product contains antiviral ingredients and is capable of killing viruses including poliovirus, norovirus, influenza A and adenovirus. To pass this test, a 4 log reduction in test virus must be achieved. A pass in EN 14476 against vaccinia virus and other so-called ‘enveloped’ viruses allows a claim for effectiveness against COVID-19.

We supply a range of fantastic products that meet these rigorous standards – take a look at our brochures or just give us a call for more information.

  1. Killing 99.9% of bacteria is not enough

Many disinfectants (also called sanitisers) claim to kill 99.9% of bacteria, which sounds pretty impressive – but is it? In reality, to be as clean as possible, your product needs to be as close to the 100% mark as possible. If it’s only hitting 99.9% of bacteria, it will leave room for bacteria growth as even 0.1% can quickly multiply. However, a chemical that complies with the EN 1276 standard is 99.999% effective in killing bacteria, so leaves 100 times less bacteria, and is a much better choice.

As explained above, choosing EN 1276 or EN14476-certified products will guarantee that they are suitable for heavy duty, rigorous cleaning in any type of environment, and will give you additional peace of mind that your premises are safe and properly sanitised.

  1. Bleach is not always an effective cleaner

A common misconception is that bleach is a fantastic cleaner but, in fact, bleach doesn’t remove dirt or grime (it’s actually most effective on a clean surface). Not only that,but it can be harmful to surfaces and may strip away any polish or varnish coating that is designed to protect the underlying surface material.

While bleach is capable of killing 99.9% of bacteria on contact, it’s also poisonous. Using bleach to clean food preparation surfaces creates a risk of contamination which could cause harm to humans.

As bleach irritates mucous membranes, the skin and the airway, decomposes under heat or light and reacts readily with other chemicals, caution should be exercised in using it. Improper use of bleach may reduce its effectiveness for disinfection and also lead to accidents which can be harmful to health. Overuse of bleach, or using a bleach solution that is too concentrated, results in the production of toxic substances that pollute the environment and disturb ecological balance.

  1. Pine gel and lemon gel are not the best floor cleaners available

While these remain a favourite for many people due to their fresh fragrances and general longevity on the chemical product scene, there are many more suitable options available that are specifically targeted for different types of floor surfaces.

Just get in touch with us via the contact details below for more guidance on the floor cleaners available and which might best suit your needs.

  1. Disinfection does not mean ‘clean’

So we know about the European standards for products that kill bacteria and viruses, but does use of such certified products automatically mean your premises and equipment are clean?

Well, the short answer is no, because it’s not just what you use, it’s how you use it.

Various studies have proved that the only way to really get something ‘clean’ is with a two-pronged attack – chemical, plus manual cleaning.

While disinfection is critical and certainly a step in the right direction towards a product or surface being ‘clean’, by itself it just isn’t enough. Studies show that manual or ‘mechanical’ cleaning using a cleaning item, colour-coded brush, scourer or cloth in addition to the disinfectant, provides the best results in removing germs from a surface.

The table below summarises the results from the Vikan Biofilm study:

Detergent test results table
Detergent test results table

Finally, a general word of advice – don’t underestimate the little things, like polishing a surface after cleaning. Whether glass, stainless steel, or high shine plastics – if they are streaky they unfortunately can give customers the impression of being unclean.

If you would like some advice on your cleaning products and processes, just contact us for a no-obligation initial consultation. Call now on 01482 327580 or drop us a line at

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