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High-level vs. Low-level Disinfection: How Clean Is ‘Clean?’

People know that homes and offices should be regularly cleaned. However, you may not know how regularly this should occur. A thorough cleaning is recommended at least once a month using proper disinfectants. Avoiding the spread of germs and bacteria is of primary importance to keep everyone healthy. Most cleaning professionals have classified the process of disinfection to low- level disinfection and high-level disinfection.

Regular Cleaning

For most people, once a surface looks spotless, it is clean. The solution has always been to wipe off dirt, stains, and dust, and then the place is clean. However, some things that are invisible to the naked eye, like germs and bacteria, can stay even if a place looks sparkling clean. Only the right level of disinfection will get rid of these pesky pathogens.

High-level Disinfection

High-level disinfectants are often used in healthcare settings or low-risk facilities, wherein it is vital to kill bacteria that can cause infections like during a disease outbreak. These disinfectants are often a concoction of bleach, hydrogen peroxide, or peracetic acid. High-level disinfectants include more dangerous chemicals that can create toxic pollutants in the air and reduce indoor air quality. That is why people who use these chemicals have to wear personal protective equipment (PPE).

Low-level Disinfection

Noncritical items that you can touch are cleaned with a simple low-level disinfection, Lysol for example. The disinfecting wipes you may have in your room and kitchen are a great example of this. Quats, or quaternary ammonium compounds, are often used as an ingredient in low-level disinfectants. They effectively kill fungi, amoebas, mold, microbes, and viruses.

Indoor Air Quality

Even after the cleaning and the disinfecting process is done, your home is not necessarily safe and pathogen-free. One factor that you might forget is the indoor air quality. The disinfectants being used, whether high- or low-level, may still circulate contaminants or toxins in the air you breathe.

Therefore, it is of utmost importance to eliminate the harmful particulates in the air. Calling a professional to clean your HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system is the best solution. Never do it yourself, or you might end up damaging the system or not removing the contaminants completely.

Regular HVAC servicing

Regular maintenance checks for your HVAC system should effectively keep it germ-free. During these checkups, technicians will be able to find any hidden leaks, which could allow mold and bacteria to grow. Although you are able to replace filters on your own, these professionals are able to check whether they are operating perfectly. The parts of your HVAC system will be pulled apart and cleaned thoroughly. This will also help the technicians inspect each and every component thoroughly. They make sure that the parts are all in optimal condition.

No matter what level of disinfection you do to your home or office, the pollutants from those disinfectants will still linger in the air that you breathe. The only solution is to make sure that your HVACs are operating efficiently. For as long as your air quality is not safe, you can’t declare that your space is totally clean.

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