What is Cleaning?
Cleaning is the process of locating, identifying, containing, removing, and properly disposing of unwanted substances from a surface or area. Cleaning usually involves soap or a cleaning formula. It requires some form of agitation, such as rubbing hands together or using a brush, cloth, running water, or vacuum. Cleaning removes microorganisms; however, it does not kill them.
Cleaning is vital to maintaining a safe, healthy environment and is the first step before a surface can be effectively sanitized or disinfected. If a surface is not cleaned first, dirt and debris can shield pathogens from the disinfectant or sanitizer, allowing them to survive, thrive, and multiply. Some formulations are combinations of cleaners, sanitizers, and disinfectants. However, depending on the manufacturer’s directions, these products are often applied once to clean, wiping the solution off the surface, then reapplied again to sanitize or disinfect.
During the cleaning process, it is essential to avoid cross-contamination. Most often, this occurs by using the same cleaning tool to clean different surfaces. Cross-contamination is a primary source of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) in hospitals and other healthcare settings. One way to avoid cross-contamination is to use color-coded tools.