The third part of this three-part article examines whether BSCs should be spraying disinfectants onto a surface or onto a cloth.

Some building service contractors believe in spraying disinfectant directly onto the surface. Others say that spraying disinfectant causes germs to become airborne, contaminating clean surfaces and endangering custodians.

“The emerging trend is away from spraying anything,” says Griffin. “You’re spraying a disinfectant that’s designed to kill living organisms. Well, the person spraying the disinfectant is a big living organism.”

Instead of spraying disinfectant onto the surface, Griffin suggests saturating a cloth in a bucket, wringing it out, and then wiping the surface, or squirting the disinfectant directly onto the surface or onto a cloth.

Like Griffin, Hicks believes that spraying disinfectant is an occupational hazard for custodians. The preferred method is to use a bucket system, making sure that used cloths do not make their way back into the bucket.

“Once you wipe that surface, you put that soiled cloth into a bag and reach back into the bucket to get a clean cloth,” he says.

Tanner, on the other hand, is a proponent of spraying disinfectant directly onto the surface. When asked if spraying disinfectant could cause germs to become airborne onto clean surfaces, Tanner replies: “That’s urban legend. I’ve tried to replicate that phenomenon in the lab. Maybe some marginal amount of microorganism could be aerosolized, but if it is, it would be a big droplet that would just fall back down.”

He recommends spraying disinfectant liberally on the surface, letting it stand for the required contact time, and then wiping it off.

“You’re better off spraying the surface directly than applying the liquid with a cloth because there’s a lot less potential for cross-contamination that way,” says Tanner. “Cloths love to take germs from one part of the room to another.”

Whether spraying directly onto the surface or dipping a cloth into a bucket, no one denies the importance of pre-cleaning.

“Disinfectants aren’t there to clean,” says Griffin. “It’s a two-step process: You clean first and remove the gross soil, and then you go back and apply the disinfectant.”

Hicks agrees.

I think too often people use clean and disinfect as if they were the same word, and they’re not,” he says. “If we did a better job of cleaning, the disinfectant would have a much better chance of doing its job.”

Kassandra Kania is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is a frequent contributor to Contracting Profits.

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New Disinfectants Boast Faster Kill Claims For C. diff Spores, Rotavirus, Norovirus