What is healthy Carpet cleaning?
Regular cleaning is important for much more than just aesthetic appeal and tidiness. It is vital for the health and safety of loved ones, especially during these uncertain times of COVID-19 (Coronavirus). Just like washing your hands with soap and water has become a vital necessity, so has healthy cleaning in your home. By healthy cleaning, I mean cleaning and disinfecting all the flooring and commonly touched surfaces in your home to remove and kill germs and prevent the spread of germs, bacteria and viruses.
Shelf Life of a Virus
If someone in your home has tested positive to the Coronavirus it is extremely important to clean and disinfect all areas of your home, including carpet and upholstery. Viruses can live on some surfaces for up to nine days, but can be destroyed in minutes with disinfectant! Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine found the Coronavirus lives;
- in air for up to 3 hours
- on paper and cardboard for up to 24 hours
- on Plastic and Stainless steel for up to 72 hours
Therefore it is important to pay extra attention to areas of your home that are touched frequently by numerous people. These areas include door bells, light switches, computer keyboards, phones, remote controls, taps and door knobs. Regular cleaning and disinfecting around the home will limit the spread of viruses.
However if you are self isolating and have not come into contact with anyone with Coronavirus, then there is no need to be obsessive in your cleaning, just pay attention to these highly touched areas.
Is there a difference between cleaning, sanitising and disinfecting?
Cleaning is the first step in healthy carpet cleaning and should be followed by sanitising and/or disinfecting. Many people use these three term interchangeably, however they are three separate and very different processes.
Cleaning is the process of removing dirt, grime and some germs by using water, soap or detergent and a cloth, mop, paper towel. For carpet and upholstery, a hot water extraction machine is used. Cleaning is a physical action which removes visible dirt and dust. It is important to remove this layer of visible dirt and grime to enable more thorough sanitising and disinfecting. Healthy carpet cleaning starts with this important first step.
Sanitising reduces the number of germs to a safe level for humans. This safe level is set by public health standards in order to decrease the risk of infection.
Steam cleaning is one of the best methods of healthy carpet cleaning and sanitising. Chemicals can also sanitise, however not all chemicals are suitable for fabric and carpet.
The heat generated by steam cleaning kills many germs and bacteria, however it is not usually hot enough to completely kill all germs and viruses. To completely disinfect using heat, you need the temperature to be around 100C which would damage most carpet or upholstery fibres.
Disinfecting is a process whereby germs, viruses, bacteria and the like are killed, usually by using a chemical, UV light or extremely high heat. Where cleaning and sanitising reduces the number of germs to a safe level, disinfecting actually kills them completely. However to achieve best results, cleaning needs to occur first to allow disinfecting to work effectively.
Anti Bacterial Vs Anti Viral
Anti bacterial treatments are commonly used in household cleaning to kill and remove bacteria such as E Coli and Salmonella. These types of treatments can also be effective on some viruses, however they have not been proven to kill the Covid-19 virus. It is important at this time to ensure you use an anti viral product, which has been approved to kill the Covid-19 Virus.
Disinfecting Soft Surfaces
Not a lot is known about how long viruses survive on soft surfaces such as clothing and carpet. The rough, irregular surfaces that make up fabric and carpet do not seem to be suited to viruses in terms of prolonging their viability long term. Viruses have an outer membrane made up of lipids (fats), and rough surfaces may break these membranes and destroy the virus cells, in a way which hard surfaces do not.
There are many products EPA approved anti bacterial treatments, suitable for soft surfaces. These anti bacterial sanitisers, are specially formulated to penetrate into the porous fibres and attack the microbes, without actually binding to soils or the carpet fibres. We use this product for anti bacterial treatments. We also use essential oils for their natural anti bacterial properties. Essential oils are wonderful for healthy carpet cleaning, however they do not kill the Covid-19 Virus.
Enzymes are another type of sanitiser, also used on carpets. Enzymes can also be effective to reduce (but not completely remove) bacteria, viruses, mould and parasites.
Cleaning upholstery and carpet with good quality detergents as well as disinfecting with a hospital grade, anti viral disinfectant, is the best way to ensure this virus has no chance of survival on your soft furnishings and give you peace of mind.
At the time of writing the only anti viral product approved by the Australian TGA (Therapeutic Drugs Administration) which is safe for fabric, upholstery and carpet is this one – read more here. We have this product in stock and it is included in our cleaning at no additional charge for all of our customers.
Disinfecting Hard Surfaces
As previously mentioned, the Covid-19 Virus can live on hard surfaces for days. It is important to use an anti viral disinfectant on these surfaces for healthy cleaning. Studies have shown that, to be effective against viruses, disinfectant products need to contain at least 62-71% ethanol, 0.5% Hydrogen Peroxide or 0.1% Sodium Hypochlorite. UV light, either from the sun or from a UV lamp, is also a powerful disinfectant.
Always read the label and follow the instructions when using these types of products. Usually they need to be in contact with the surface for a specific amount of time to work effectively and are best used on hard surfaces such as taps, light switches, door knobs and other high touch areas.
A word of warning – please be very careful when using these products in your home. Many contain bleach which is a powerful weapon in the fight against Coronvirus, however bleach can also cause colour loss from clothing, carpet and upholstery. Bleach spots cannot be reversed by cleaning.
When cleaning for health in your home please remember to;
Can I make my own disinfectant for healthy cleaning?
You can make your own bleach solutions for cleaning hard surfaces, but only by diluting bleach with water and always follow the recommendations on the label. Never mix bleach or cleaning chemicals with other chemicals, detergents or solutions.
Vinegar is a good natural cleaning agent and is a natural disinfectant, however it is not strong enough to kill Covid-19. Never mix vinegar with bleach as it creates a toxic gas. Even wiping a bench down with vinegar then following up with a bleach solution can be dangerous.
Other natural cleaning options, such as lemon juice and essential oils like tea tree and lavender, also have natural anti bacterial properties. In a usual setting they are great for healthy cleaning, however they are not strong enough in this current pandemic and they are not anti viral.
Professional Disinfection Services
In this world wide pandemic, cleaning is going to be your best defence. Once restrictions ease up and life returns to something like “normal”, we will be able to leave the house and go back to work and school and life….it is then that preventative healthy cleaning will become vital. Just like washing your hands, you will need to regularly clean your home.
Professional carpet and upholstery cleaning will be one way you can ensure the health of your home or office (and everyone it in!). Some companies will be adding “disinfection services” along with carpet cleaning and other home cleaning. While we add DISINFECTANT (for FREE) with all of our carpet and upholstery cleaning, we are NOT offering a DISINFECTION SERVICE – that is a completely different area of expertise.
Please be aware that professional disinfection requires advanced training and experience as well as very specialised equipment and chemicals. Make sure you research companies offering this service and ask questions to ensure they are capable of providing it, properly and safely.
Recently we have heard of many disasters resulting from inexperienced operators using dangerous and damaging products in a sprayer to “disinfect” homes and offices. You have to remember that while this type of service is important is hospitals, it is not generally necessary in your home, unless someone has had Coronavirus. Disinfection spraying gives peace of mind but it does not keep the space safe as it all becomes undone, the moment someone enters the area or touches a surface. It is not a once off service.