How Clean is Clean Enough - bucket and mop

How Clean is Clean Enough?

news - May 2020

How Clean is Clean Enough?

What the new definition of “clean” means for designers, architects, and home technology professionals.

By Bill Hensley

How Clean is Clean Enough? -- mop and bucket

WHEN I WAS A KID, my mom would call us to dinner always asking, “Did you wash your hands?” To this, my brother and I would reply, “Yes mom, right before we petted the dog.” It always got a laugh from my dad, but today washing your hands is no joking matter; the virus that has us all working from home or sheltering in place has brought new attention to handwashing. It’s also making us rethink clean and ask, “How clean is clean enough?”

The answer in most cases depends on situational factors, but in this COVID-19 environment it’s important for businesses to be both perceived as clean enough (the marketing) and actually clean enough (the reality). At a recent grocery store visit, the cashier made sure to do a quick Lysol spray and wipe of the checkout conveyor before letting me put my groceries on it. It was definitely not enough to disinfect but perhaps enough “marketing” to give a measure of comfort to someone unschooled in the world of disinfection.

Fortunately, I do have some schooling on the subject courtesy of a co-founder of 6LogClean, a San Francisco Bay Area start-up providing disinfection services. Full disclosure: he’s also my son and didn’t hold back telling me that my notion of clean is no longer clean enough. But you don’t need to know someone in the business; the Today Show recently aired a segment titled Fogging Technology Could Help Battle Coronavirus. The segment highlighted the “ultimate cleaner” – vaporized hydrogen peroxide and silver – commonly used to disinfect research facilities and now approved by the EPA for emergency use against COVID-19.

What does the new definition of “clean” mean for designers, architects, and home technology professionals? Like the new expectation that you wear gloves and a mask at a client’s site, what will your clients expect when they visit your showroom, studio or office? What will give them confidence that it is actually clean enough to be safe?

Some business owners have used the lockdown to clean up the office or showroom, even remodel it a bit to get ready for the emerging “new normal.” This new normal will include both social distancing and a new definition of “clean.” As always, first impressions count. The organized, tidy and clean appearing office or showroom helps instill “clean confidence” in your customers. This is the marketing of clean. For the reality of clean, let’s look at the scale the pros use.

Log reduction chart

Halosil , the manufacturer of the hydrogen peroxide and silver fog treatment referenced in the Today Show segment, cites the logarithmic (log) scale which measures how effective a given disinfectant may be against infectious pathogens. The six-level scale ranges from 90 percent reduction of the pathogens (1-log) to 99.9999 percent reduction (6-log). Soap and water deliver the classic 1-log reduction. A 3-log reduction would be achieved with a product like Lysol, but only when used correctly and allowed to sit on the surface being cleaned long enough (2-5 minutes) to do its work. That grocery store example earlier? That was not cutting it. The highest 6-log disinfection – such as the Halosil fogging – results in a million times fewer pathogens.

How clean your facility needs to be depends on factors such as how many people are in it, in what proximity to each other, and with what customer interaction. For those of you with team members going to jobsites, the practices – both good and bad – employed by all at the site determine additional levels of cleaning and disinfection needed to minimize the risk of bringing COVID-19 back from the jobsite.

Welcome to the new normal. Wash your hands, everyone.

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