Information is the professional's greatest weapon against unwanted contamination.

Maintenance and JanSan workers are the best line of defense professional facilities have against the spread of illness-causing pathogens. However, the importance of cleaning before disinfecting may be lost in the process, as employees aim to complete their tasks as quickly as possible. But failing to initially clean a surface or abide by a disinfectant's dwell time can lead to serious health risks.

Cleaning a surface removes soils, while the disinfecting process is aimed at killing potentially dangerous micro-organisms. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) cautions against taking a shortcut right to the disinfectant: "Germs can hide underneath dirt and other material on surfaces where they are not affected by the disinfectant. Dirt and organic material can also reduce the germ-killing ability of some disinfectants."

Be wary of shortcuts

The professional cleaning industry offers a number of products that claim to "clean and disinfect" surfaces in one step. However, what building managers and cleaning professionals save in time and cost, they sacrifice in efficacy - to the danger of those who inhabit the space after treatment.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) establishes that cleaning and disinfecting go hand-in-hand, and to fully decontaminate a surface, both steps must be implemented. "This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection," they establish.

The least-hospitable environment on which pathogens thrive is a clean, dry surface exposed to light and air. When cleaning, agitating cleaner onto the surface helps lift and remove soil barriers bringing those undesirable bacteria out of "hiding," so to speak. They can then be properly removed with a disinfectant, provided proper label directions and dwell times are followed.


As the public becomes more aware of the risks and necessary protective measures for illness prevention in a pandemic-impacted world, information is the professionals' greatest weapon against unwanted contamination. Following the "CBD" method of cleaning and disinfecting - C" (clean) before "D" (disinfecting) – or "CBD," for short - will help professionals maintain healthier facilities in a pandemic-sensitive society.