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Best practices for proper cleaning

Posted by Scott Clark on


Surfaces in your facility should be as clean as possible, with the lowest amount of pathogens possible.

Unfortunately, in most cases, a quick clean and wipe on a surface does not result in a sufficient clean.

We tested the effectiveness of different cleaning tools and methods to see if best cleaning practices made a difference.

First, let's explain some of the best practices for cleaning.

Best practices for cleaning

To ensure proper cleaning, follow these four steps:

1. Wet the surface with enough cleaner

Using enough cleaner on the surface allows the cleaner to work properly, which can remove more biofilm and kill or inactivate more pathogens.

The surface should be fully covered with cleaner so it can work effectively.

2. Follow dwell time requirements

Dwell time is the amount of time a product "stands" on the surface. Leaving a product on a surface for a certain amount of time allows is to get rid of more pathogens.

Products should have dwell time information (if required) on the label or on the safety data sheet. Some products may require a higher dwell time than others.

3. Use thorough wipe patterns

Thorough wipe patterns are key to breaking up biofilm on a surface. Biofilm is a slimy, glue-like film of bacteria and other pathogens that sticks to a surface. It can harbor pathogens and can be resistant to certain cleaning methods. To get rid of biofilm, agitate the surface.

4. Use effective tools

Using the right tools makes a big difference. In many cases, a paper towel is not sufficient. We recommend using microfiber cloths because they are more absorbent, last longer, and remove more soil and biofilm from surfaces. Plus, they are a sustainable option.

Why you should follow cleaning best practices

We wanted to see for ourselves if following cleaning best practices really made a difference. We set up a test in a school classroom.

school classroomStudents used the desks all day before we started our test. We set up four different desks with the following cleaning methods: 

  • Following proper guidelines for disinfecting wipes
  • Quickly using disinfecting wipes
  • Following proper guidelines for the current school cleaner
  • Quickly spraying and wiping the current school cleaner
Product Dwell Time Process Followed
Disinfecting Wipes 1 Minute Surface wiped with two wipes to sufficiently wet surface; wiped dry with microfiber cloth
Disinfecting Wipes None Surface wiped quickly with a single wipe
Current School Cleaner 1 Minute Surface sprayed; left wet for 1 minute; wiped with microfiber cloth in a methodical pattern to avoid dragging the towel back over a previously wiped section
Current School Cleaner None Surface quickly sprayed; wiped dry with paper towel in random pattern

Before we started our cleaning, we took initial ATP readings of the desks. ATP tests measure the amount of adenosine triphosphate on a surface. This number correlates to the amount of soil and biofilm on a surface. For the ATP testing equipment we used, a score below 30 is typically regarded as clean for many industries. A score below 10 is safe for food prep surfaces.

Next we tried our four different cleaning methods on the desks. We followed that with a second ATP test.

Here's a chart showing our results:

Product Method Pre-Cleaning ATP Reading Post-Cleaning ATP Reading Percent Reduction
Disinfecting Wipes Two wipes, dwell time followed, thorough wiping 584 62 89.4%
Disinfecting Wipes Single wipe, no dwell time, quick wiping 604 151 75.0%
Current School Cleaner Even spray, dwell time followed, thoroughly wiped with microfiber cloth 548 25 95.4%
Current School Cleaner Quick spray, no dwell time, quickly wiped with paper towel 559 329 41.1%

The results show that the cleaning method you use makes a big difference in the amount of soil and biofilm removed from a surface.

Biofilm can be invisible to the eye, so even though a desk may "look" clean, the surface can still be dirty. Both the quick wipe of a desk with the disinfectant wipe and the quick spray and wipe with the school cleaner resulted in a significantly smaller percent reduction than when proper methods were used.

Products for a safe, effective clean

We also learned from our test results that not all cleaning products give you the same results. Some cleaning products are safer and easier to use than others.

For an in-depth look at our process and our results, watch this video:

Based on our results, we recommend the two cleaning products below for a safe and effective clean. Both of these products contain properties that continue to work after the surface has been cleaned. 

product-multi-task SIMIX-4
Dilutes to $0.73 per gallon Dilutes to $0.37 per gallon
No dwell time 1 minute dwell time
Multi-Task Cleaner by Z BioScience
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Watch our video
SIMIX Multi-Purpose Cleaner
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Watch our video

SIMIX replaces dozens of other cleaning products. It comes in a powder form and can be diluted at different rates to work as a cleaner, degreaser, and sanitizer. SIMIX has a one minute dwell time, so it should stand on a surface for one minute before it's wiped off. Natural and artificial light interact with ingredients in the cleaner to continue working on the surface.  

Multi-Task Probiotic Cleaner by Z BioScience removes soil and leaves a layer of good bacteria to continue working on the surface. It's eco-friendly and contains EPA listed ingredients and GRAS (generally regarded as safe) probiotics. This cleaner has no dwell time, so you can spray it on a surface and wipe it off immediately.

Both products can significantly reduce the amount of pathogens and biofilm on a surface when used correctly.

For a complete clean, it's important to target surface and air disinfection. We explain three ways to kill pathogens in the air in this article.

Our team of experts can walk you through the process of keeping your facility as clean as possible. Contact us for a free consultation.

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