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What is the difference between a disinfectant and antibacterial cleaner?

disinfectant and antibacterial cleaners

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When it comes to cleaning your office, there are so many different types of cleaning products on the market that it can be hard to know what is best to use for your needs. Are spray cleaners best? Will wipes do the job? What’s the difference between disinfectant and antibacterial cleaners? And does it matter which you use?

Well, hopefully, we can help solve some of your office cleaning dilemmas with our guide to the difference between disinfectant and antibacterial cleaners.  

Keeping your office clean is essential to ensure the health and wellbeing of all your members of staff and it’s especially important during COVID-19 as the virus can be transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces. 

Knowing what type of cleaning products to use on the different surfaces within your office is essential to make sure that every inch of your workplace is clean and safe for your staff and visitors to use. 

So, read on to find out more about the difference between disinfectant and antibacterial cleaners and when they should be used. 

What do disinfectant cleaners do?

Cleaning products that claim to disinfect surfaces are designed to kill any germs or bacteria that they come into contact with. Disinfectants generally include a small amount of a strong chemical such as peroxides, also known as bleach, diluted into a solution that is safe for use in the home or office. 

An important thing to note is that disinfecting isn’t always a process of cleaning and cleaning isn’t always going to disinfect. 

The goal with disinfection is to remove any traces of germs and bacteria from the surface, but due to the way disinfectants are formulated, they may not clear up sticky residues and other messes. 

So, if you have dirt on a surface or a mark you want to remove and you also want to disinfect that surface, it’s best to clean it first with a regular multi-purpose cleaner and then go over it with a disinfectant. That way you have both cleaned the dirty area to remove any marks and mess and disinfected it to remove any bacteria and germs.

Some multi-use products claim to be able to disinfect surfaces as they clean. However, disinfectants need to be left on surfaces for between 5 and 10 minutes to be completely effective at removing germs and bacterias. Due to the strong chemicals present in disinfectants, it is recommended that you wear gloves when using these types of products to disinfect surfaces in your office. 

What do antibacterial cleaners do?

You may have seen advertisements for cleaning products claiming that they are effective at killing 99.9% of bacteria. But, what do these antibacterial cleaners actually do?

Bacteria grow by multiplying at a microscopic level, even small amounts of bacteria can spread quickly because the individual bacteria reproduce by doubling again and again in a short space of time.

Antibacterial cleaners contain compounds that interfere with or stop this growth of bacteria. Meaning any bacteria living on surfaces will stop multiplying when they come into contact with an antibacterial cleaning agent.

These sorts of cleaning agents come in two different forms; non-residue and residue antibacterials. Non-residue antibacterial cleaning agents include alcohols, chlorine and peroxides or bleach, they don’t leave any lasting residue on surfaces. 

Residue antibacterial agents include chemical compounds such as triclosan and triclocarban which leave behind a residue on surfaces which is intended to provide lasting protection against bacteria.

Many antibacterial cleaners are also disinfectants, however, they have been marketed to focus more on their antibacterial properties rather than disinfection potential. 

Should you use disinfectant or antibacterial cleaners in your office?

If you are trying to protect your office from COVID-19 and other viruses like the flu, specific antibacterial cleaning agents won’t help. 

This is because COVID-19 isn’t spread through bacteria, it is a virus and viruses have a different cell structure that needs to be removed in a different way to bacteria. 

However, this doesn’t mean that you should not be using any antibacterial cleaners in your office! There are other germs and bacteria still floating around as well as the coronavirus, and properly cleaning your workspace with antibacterial cleaning agents can help to protect your office and staff from illness. 

Products such as antibacterial wipes and sprays can be particularly effective for cleaning high-touch areas such as keyboards, computer mice, phones and keypads. 

When cleaning your office or workplace, it’s best to first use an all-purpose cleaning product to remove any dirt and grime that has built-up on surfaces to ensure it is clean and then follow this up with a disinfectant product to ensure all germs, viruses and bacteria are removed. 

So, ultimately if you want to thoroughly clean your office and ensure bacteria and viruses are removed, you need to be using a combination of antibacterial and disinfectant cleaners alongside your regular all-purpose cleaning products. 

You may be able to find a product that is both antibacterial and a disinfectant. But always read the packaging to be sure that your cleaning products are capable of disinfection and check it says the product has been tested against both bacteria and viruses. 

Keeping your office clean during COVID-19

Once you have found a cleaning product that works to eradicate bacteria and viruses, you need to know where to use it and what to clean to keep your office safe during COVID-19. 

COVID-19 is spread through respiratory droplets and contact with contaminated surfaces, therefore any high-touch areas in your office must be frequently cleaned. 

These high-touch areas that should be regularly disinfected include:

  • Tables and desks
  • Doorknobs and door handles
  • Light switches
  • Lift buttons
  • Phones
  • Computers, keyboards and mice
  • Remote controls and shared tablets
  • Toilets, taps and sinks
  • Communal kitchen areas and appliances

If you need more advice about office cleaning, or are considering hiring a professional cleaning company to help keep your office safe and clean, speak to Green Heart Clean to find out what we can do for you.

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