The recent pandemic has certainly got more people thinking about how clean their homes and workplaces really are. Pathogens on contaminated surfaces can easily get on your hands, and from there, move to vulnerable entryways in your body such as your eyes, nose, and mouth. This is one of the known transmission methods of the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 as well as many other diseases, such as the flu, herpes, chickenpox, norovirus, pink eye, hepatitis A, and others.
So is the answer to just simply stop touching your face? Unfortunately, it takes an awful lot of work to avoid doing this. This is especially true if you’re wearing an uncomfortable face mask or glasses that just don’t fit correctly. While we can and should work toward avoiding touching our faces, this is a difficult advice to follow consistently, especially if you’re busy doing things on a daily basis
To reduce your risk at home and at work, the best strategy is to employ combined risk-reduction strategies. Using antimicrobial hand protectors, avoiding high-risk situations, and properly sanitizing your home and workplace are among the best ways to avoid getting sick from direct contact with contaminated surfaces.
For outside spaces where you have limited control, wearing a mask and using a hand protector to safely touch different surfaces such as shopping cart handles and ATM keypads is probably your safest strategy outside of complete avoidance. In areas where you have control such as your home, and perhaps your workplace, proper sanitation of surfaces will not only be the most practical option but will likely be the most comfortable as well.
There are some caveats, though. It is possible to sanitize surfaces the wrong way or too much. To avoid such mistakes, here are some basic things about sanitizing that you should know.
1.) Sanitation Is Not the Same as Disinfection
While we use the terms “sanitize” and ”disinfect” interchangeably in day-to-day conversation, technically speaking, they mean different things. The Centers for Disease Control for instance, has strict definitions for disinfection, sterilization, and cleaning. In most cases though, we can simply consider sanitization as somewhat less thorough than disinfection.
Without getting bogged down in minor details, a sanitary surface may have less germs but will still be considered safe to touch. A disinfected surface, on the other hand, is close to free of germs. In most cases, it’s next to impossible to achieve a truly disinfected surface while sanitizing can be considered sufficient for most needs.
In practice, sanitizing your home and workplace tends to be more practical and easier while disinfection is only worthwhile in the context of hospitals or frequently-touched surfaces.
2.) Can You Sanitize Too Much?
It all depends on the context. There are some dangers associated with the excessive or improper use of chemicals and cleaning supplies used for sanitizing. Spending too much time cleaning can also have dubious value past a certain point, even when it comes to warding off infectious microbes such as the coronavirus.
You have to also consider the mental and emotional energy that you can spend in trying to keep everything free of microbes. In a sense, that may mean that it is possible to overdo it if there is no imminent threat from contaminated surfaces.
Workplaces may be a different matter. Given the shared nature of most offices and work areas, frequent sanitization and even disinfection of surfaces is more justified. If your workplace is frequently visited by customers and other people, you can never be too careful. Washing your hands regularly, wiping down frequently-used objects, and using a hand protector when touching something strangers may have recently come in contact with can be reasonable, depending on the situation.
3.) How Often Should You Sanitize Your Work Station
It depends on your industry. Food and medical workers, for instance, will need to sanitize or disinfect surfaces much more regularly than someone who works in an office. Generally speaking, you will want to sanitize your workstation at the start of every day, especially if you share equipment and facilities with other people. Food and medical workers may have to sanitize at the start of certain processes or at regularly-timed intervals. If you work from home and don’t get a lot of contact with people outside, then you can safely assume that sanitizing every couple of days or so would be sufficient.
Being safe doesn’t mean you have to completely give up on the activities you enjoy. Unless there is someone seriously sick in your household, it is normally enough to sanitize surfaces in your home weekly. Surfaces at work should be sanitized daily or as prescribed by your industry. If you have to do activities in a high-risk area, be sure to wear antimicrobial hand protectors and to practice proper hand hygiene to further reduce your chances of infection through contaminated surfaces.