DISINFECTION – Make certain it’s done right!


We are dealing with an enemy that cannot be seen, an invisible invader, a silent killer.  How are you choosing a disinfection company to provide services for your facility? What criteria should you be using to determine the validity and results of their services?  How do you know if it’s been done right?  

The answer is you don’t, unless testing is being employed as part of their protocol.  If the efficacy of virus and bacterial disinfection is not being measured for touch surfaces and the air,  you are flying blind. Testing is the only way to demonstrate that a vendor has done as advertised.  That is why the healthcare industry tests their facilities on a daily basis.  You should require the same.

The COVID-19 pandemic created a massive uptick in facilities requiring disinfection services.  In response, janitorial companies, pest control companies, maid services, etc. started adjusting their procedures to address this need.  But, are these “adjustments” they are making in their businesses adequate to address this silent killer?  Are they able to become a “disinfection company” overnight? How do you dust, vacuum and mop or treat for insects one day and the next, you are dealing with an invisible killer that they say has been “disinfected”?

Let’s explore that question. Janitorial and maid companies are generally responsible for keeping commercial spaces in a sanitary condition, including dusting, vacuuming, removing trash, mopping floors, cleaning kitchens, counters, bathrooms, etc.  Sanitizing is meant to reduce, not kill, the occurrence and growth of bacteria, viruses and fungi.  Disinfection with an EPA registered hospital grade product, will “kill” the microscopic organisms, usually 99.999% (a 4-6 log).  There is a big difference between being a janitorial or maid company providing sanitary services compared to a disinfection specialist company.

Pest control companies making the claim that they are now “disinfecting companies” is alarming.  The process and level of training for treating insects is not even close to killing viruses and bacteria, yet they purport themselves as “experts”.

So what should you be looking for?  How will you know that services rendered are services received?  What services, procedures and testing is required when you are hiring a company to disinfect your facility ?

COVID-19 InstaScope Testing
Technician using InstaScope to monitor microbe concentrations

Disinfection Requirements

The following requirements are serious and necessary to protect the occupants.  Providing these steps and validating that they have been properly executed is mandatory:

  • • Clean High Touch points – e.g. door handles, light switches, keyboards, faucets, etc.
  • • Use EPA registered disinfectants on High Touch points
  • • OSHA required PPE
  • • Treat airborne pathogens using Hydroxyls
  • • Fog – to reach areas not included in the High Touch points
    • · ATP testing for High Touch points
    • · InstaScope for observing real-time bioaerosols before and after using hydroxyls and fogging

If the company you have chosen is not able to provide all of these services, you should not use them.  Each of these components are required to ensure that the disinfection services you are receiving are comprehensive and effective.  Testing surfaces and the air for pathogen reduction is the only way to determine if disinfection services have been properly administered and tested for efficacy.

COVID-19 fogging
PPE protected technician fogging facility

How to Choose a Disinfection Services Company

The following disinfection terms and processes are to be used as a guide when choosing a disinfection services company:

Hydroxyls –  This is nature’s method of cleaning the air from mold spores, bacteria and viruses. Hydroxyls are water molecules that are missing one of its hydrogen atoms (OH-) and in an unbalanced state. As a result, it is attracted to single-cell organisms, e.g. viruses, bacteria, etc. in the air, attaches them and forcibly rips a hydrogen atom from their cell wall.  This process means that the hydroxyl molecule has now become H2O – harmless water.   The cell wall of the virus, bacteria, etc. has been ruptured, pops like a balloon and dies.

Using hydroxyls to inactivate bioaerosols has been proven safe and effective.  They are safe for people, plants, animals, rubber, plastic, vinyl, electronics and other sensitive materials.  They can be used twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week destroying pathogens without hurting the environment.  This technology has been validated on MS2 viruses and considered by the FDA as a surrogate for pathogenic RNA viruses such as COVID-19.  While other methods exist, the test results using hydroxyls were “exceptional”.

InstaScope – This instrument is a very sophisticated cytometer developed by former NASA scientists in Boulder, CO.  It uses optical particle monitoring to measure real-time airborne microbe concentrations that are of respirable size ranging between 0.5-10 microns.  InstaScope detects the total airborne microbiological loads and shows the logarithmic reductions that occur after disinfection procedures in real-time. This is critical to measure for the efficacy of the disinfection services being provided for occupant safety of airborne microbial loads.  The ability to monitor in real-time gives the disinfection company the opportunity to change processes or re-do any areas that do not show significant improvement.  Having a report to validate these results is invaluable for the disinfection company and the client.

COVID-19 ATP Testing
ATP Testing to confirm disinfection efficacy

Fogging – Using EPA registered fogging disinfectants, and foggers that produce particles from 20-80 microns are very effective for whole room surface disinfection.  Fogging is the best means to treat areas that are not High Touch points that may have pathogens and is a requirement for pathogen reduction.

ATP Testing – ATP stands for Adenosine Triphosphate.  ATP is the energy-carrying molecule found in cells of all living things.  As a result, they fluoresce when tested by luminometers giving us the ability to “see” their existence. The ATP test measures all organic matter that may remain after a surface is cleaned and is used in healthcare facilities to validate cleanliness and sanitary conditions.  These test swabs give us the ability to “see” if a surface is clean or not and the opportunity to re-do an area when required.

COVID-19 Disinfection Services

As you can see in this article, there are many aspects for disinfection services that are beyond what janitorial, maid and pest service companies are capable of providing.  Finding companies that are capable of producing all these elements and processes is critical for the outcome of safety. All of the steps are important, but due to COVID-19 being so viral and lethal, testing is mandatory.  Testing is the only way to know that your facility has been made safe for occupancy and that you are getting the required services.

If you have any questions regarding disinfection services, please contact us at any time.  We are here to help in any way possible.

If you have a Coronavirus outbreak in your building or facility, please contact us at (855) 957-6627