In response to recent outbreaks of diseases and bacterial infections at several U.S. schools, industry representatives release three key tips to ensure proper disinfection in schools.

"Although more schools are greening their cleaning programs, there's still the need for traditional disinfectants to further ensure dangerous germs are destroyed – especially in gymnasiums, lunchrooms and classrooms," said Cary Zelich, marketing manager for Spray Nine, an ITW Permatex brand. "Even in cases where legislatures are promoting green cleaning at state-run schools, such as the recent case in Vermont, most legislation doesn't limit the use or distribution of antimicrobial disinfectants or sanitizers."  

Stan Peters, president of Knight Marketing Corp., New York, offers several tips that those involved in cleaning schools need to keep top-of-mind in combating the spread of bacteria:

1. Know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning removes visible soil, dirt, stains and other debris from surfaces.  It is generally performed by wiping surfaces down using a multi-purpose cleaner or soap and water. Disinfection destroys viruses, bacteria, germs and other harmful microorganisms. It is accomplished by using a chemical designed specifically to kill bacteria. One of the simplest ways to make sure you are disinfecting is to use a reliable name brand disinfectant with all of the proper paperwork to back up its kill-claims.

2. Provide on-site training on a continual basis. Disinfectants require accurate dilution, correct application and the proper dwell time. Simply spraying and wiping a disinfectant may not kill harmful bacteria. Some disinfectants require 30-second contact times, while others may require up to 10 minutes. It is important to provide ongoing training to ensure the cleaning staff is trained with the latest cleaning procedures to ensure disinfection.

3. Concentrate on disinfecting areas that may normally get overlooked. For instance, cleaning personnel often focus on gym mats because they're breeding grounds for Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). MRSA is an infection caused by a strain of staph bacteria that has become resistant to the antibiotics used to treat ordinary staph infections. Because more cross-contamination occurs on a computer keyboard or a telephone than on gym mats, schools should use disinfectants on all high-touch surfaces throughout a school.