Distributors can bring their customers the most value when they understand the specific vertical markets their customers are cleaning.

Most industry experts today say there are some markets where using a sanitizer to kill the majority of germs, but not all, is adequate. For instance, in the foodservice industry, sanitizers are sufficient to clean dishes and utensils, as well as tables and surfaces in the front of the restaurant. The sanitizer kills germs effectively and quickly so that surfaces and tableware are ready for use again sooner.

Similarly, a daycare center might use a sanitizer to clean toys, counters or dishes, but it may need a disinfectant to tackle germs on things like changing tables and toilets.

On the flip side, there will be a greater need for disinfecting in healthcare or education settings, where building occupants are more vulnerable to germs, compared to an office building.

That said, end users servicing office buildings will still find it useful to disinfect high-touch surfaces, such as elevator buttons, door handles and toilet flush handles, says Moody. He also recommends using disinfectants in areas where occupants come in direct contact with a surface, such as a shower floor in a gym, where athlete’s foot might be a concern.

Initially, it might be wise to employ a broad-spectrum disinfectant, which has kill claims against many things and isn’t quite as strong, says Moody. Later, if there is an outbreak, the cleaning staff can upgrade to a product with a specific kill claim. For instance, if there is a Norovirus outbreak in a daycare, the cleaning manager can add a disinfectant designed to kill that virus.

Distributors may need to suggest that end users switch products regularly to ensure that harmful bacteria don’t develop a resistance to the product, says Griffin. An ATP meter can help determine whether a disinfectant is still successful at killing germs.

“Some places will switch every six months or so automatically, so bacteria don’t have time to develop resistance,” he says. “They might go from a quaternary ammonium to a phenolic or an
iodoform to prevent this.”

The best way to ensure end users are still utilizing effective cleaning and disinfecting methods is proper training.

“People get a false sense of security if disinfectants are not being used the way that the instructions state,” says Moody. “A quick spray and wipe of the surfaces isn’t going to get them clean.”

Besides pushing end users to adhere to the instructions on the bottle, distributors can ensure their customers are using the proper personal protective equipment to prevent potentially dangerous chemicals from entering the eyes of janitors or being absorbed through skin.

“Workers need to be equipped with safety gear and goggles, which is often not the case if they are using a disinfectant wipe,” says Moody.

What’s more, training is not a one-time endeavor, says Griffin. It should be ongoing.

“People need to understand the value and the benefit, and the reasons why they do these things, and how serious it can be if they don’t,” he says. “They need to know if the products aren’t mixed properly, they don’t kill properly. They need to know this can impact health, and that people can die from infections. They need to know they can get sick from using the products improperly as well.”

Ronnie Garrett is a freelance writer based in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.

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