When it comes to keeping people and facilities healthy, the first step in the process is knowing exactly where pathogens are located and how wide an area they may cover.
Today, many cleaning professionals turn to ATP (adenosine triphosphate) monitoring systems to test specific surfaces. The system indicates if living cells are present on that specific surface that could potentially be harmful pathogens.
However, we can’t stop there. We need to know far more than if pathogens are located on the tip of a light switch, for instance. We must look at the big picture and see if they are located on the surrounding areas around that light switch.
What we need is a pathfinder to create what is referred to as an “image map.” Image maps are developed using new surface imaging technologies, now available in North America. They help pinpoint where pathogens are present on surfaces and in what concentrations.
So, what should cleaning professionals do with this information, for example, if an image map indicates that pathogens are present and on a surface?
Facility users can touch these contaminated surfaces and then spread the pathogens to other surfaces and other people. The first and only step is proper and effective cleaning to accomplish this – cleaning professionals should do the following:
• Clean all surfaces where pathogens may be present with an appropriate cleaning solution. Preferably, use microfiber cleaning cloths and change the cleaning cloths after each use.
• Once the surfaces are clean, use a disinfectant to clean the same areas. We clean first to remove soil and then disinfect to kill pathogens. A two-step process.
• The disinfectant should be a “broad-range” disinfectant. This means it is designed to clean a variety of different pathogens.
• Dilute the disinfectant per manufacturer’s instructions, always remembering that too little may prove ineffective; too much is wasteful and can leave a chemical residue on surfaces, resulting in rapid re-soiling.
Finally, these same surfaces should be tested regularly using imaging technologies such as that offered by OptiSolve®. This will allow us to see if potential pathogens build up again and how quickly. Then, we can determine how often these areas must be cleaned and disinfected.