Justified Disinfection as a concept argues that effective and thorough cleaning with high-quality detergents across all non-critical touch surfaces is as effective, if not more so than the widespread use of disinfectants.
“Justified disinfection is the art of disinfecting only where and when it is useful and relevant to do so. It is the opposite of systematic or abusive disinfection.”
By removing dirt and sources of food for pathogens from a surface through rigorous cleaning, the microbial load on any surface can be brought to levels that are not considered harmful. The regular and widespread use of disinfectants does not provide a clean surface and can promote the development of resistant pathogens.
Numerous studies have shown that widespread and inappropriate use of disinfectants can lead to resistance of pathogenic microorganisms to disinfectants just as the overuse of antibiotics in humans does. This is commonly called ‘antimicrobial resistance’ and is a significant threat to global health. This misuse of disinfectants can therefore make it increasingly difficult to eliminate pathogenic microorganisms as they can either acquire or intrinsically generate genetic elements that are resistant to the effects of the disinfectants.
The process of disinfection aims to minimise the number of microorganisms on a surface and if correctly applied, can bring the benefits of reducing the risk of transmission of microbial diseases.
Therefore, they should be used only on critical high-frequency touch surfaces – door handles, keyboards, lift call buttons, handrails, taps, toilet flush handles/buttons, light switches, basically, anything that gets regularly touched should be disinfected.
The question is how often should we be disinfecting these areas?
Disinfecting provides immediate but short-lived protection, as soon as a surface is touched again, it’s contaminated. This can happen within a few seconds, but studies have shown that the level of contamination can return to its original state from between 2.5 and 6 hours depending on the amount of time the surface is touched.
It is impractical to disinfect surfaces every time they are touched so the recommended disinfection frequency is once per day with dispensation given for more regular disinfecting in high traffic areas.
How do we effectively disinfect these areas?
- Apply the disinfectant on a recently cleaned surface (most disinfectants work better on clean surfaces)
- Use the correct concentration of disinfectant (instructions for dosages are on all our bottles)
- Adhere to the correct wet contact time prescribed by the manufacturer. (do NOT simply spray then wipe, wait for the product to work)
Considering all the consequences and risks associated with the overuse of disinfectants, there is no valid reason and no advantage to justify constant disinfection of all surfaces. In most cases, a good surface cleaning procedure and schedule will provide an appropriate level of safety.
Remember the best possible protection against the spread of any infection is with personal hygiene, particularly hand hygiene. Meticulous and regular hand washing is critical to prevent or at least slow the contamination of any surfaces.