First line of defence

16th of September 2011
First line of defence
First line of defence

Cleaning chemicals and disinfectants play a vital role in the provision of public health; they are the first line of defence against harmful viruses and bacteria. Their safe and effective use in public areas is therefore key to infection prevention and control, writes Diversey.

Recent global outbreaks such as the H1N1 virus, norovirus and MRSA have illuminated the importance of infection prevention and control, and illustrate just how quickly disease can spread at both a national and global level. As these outbreaks have demonstrated, the social and economical impact can be significant.

The risk and spread of infection is higher in institutions where there is increased human contact such as schools, restaurants and hospitals, to name just a few. This risk remains throughout the year, with the public at particular risk in the winter months as dry air from heaters is suspected to affect the mucus membranes in the nasal passages, making them more vulnerable to pathogens. Ensuring the public and organisations are aware of the steps they can take to minimise the risk of infection is therefore central to safeguard public health.

Educating and raising awareness of effective hygiene and cleaning processes

For organisations to effectively arm themselves and the public against infection, it is important that staff are trained to use the right chemicals for the correct purpose and surface. A well trained workforce will help improve cleaning standards and ultimately create a safer environment, whilst also improving team commitment and understanding. Specialist training courses exist to serve such purposes, such as the ones Diversey is offering, which aim to increase hygiene awareness and product familiarisation.

Educating and raising awareness of hygiene measures amongst the public is equally important to minimise the risk and spread of infection. This can be achieved for example, by clearly advertising in public spaces (through the use of posters, leaflets, etc) the simple steps that can be taken to ensure adequate hygiene standards are maintained alongside the provision of appropriate cleaning products, such as hand washes and alcohol gel. Proper hand hygiene remains the most
effective counter measure against infection and the spreading of bacteria and viruses, so it is important this message is clearly communicated and emphasised where possible.

Importance of hand hygiene and environmental hygiene combined

In the last 25 years, there has been a plethora of studies that have demonstrated the effectiveness of hand hygiene to reduce the risk of infection. Viruses like influenza for example, are commonly transferred from person to person or from surfaces via the hands. Even individuals that do not fall ill can carry and transfer viruses to others. Furthermore, some viruses, for example influenza, can live on surfaces for two hours or longer1 so it is important to ensure all surfaces, particularly those touched regularly, are thoroughly cleaned to minimise the spread of infection. This is why it is critical that hands are sanitised regularly, especially after contact with frequently touched surfaces. To thoroughly disinfect hands, a Diversey product such as Soft Care Med+ or Soft Care Des E is recommended. Effective hand hygiene in combination with effective environmental cleaning procedures will ensure the risk of infection is minimised significantly.

Diversey offers advice and a wealth of support material to guide customers in defining their hygiene protocols, and a wide range of products for surface cleaning and disinfection for different application areas, as well as a wealth of other support. More details can be found on the cleaner and healthier website:

Simple hygiene procedures

Surface hygiene procedures should focus on the cleaning and disinfection of regularly touched surfaces as this not only helps to prevent infection but also helps to break the chain of infection, in combination with a good hand hygiene protocol.

Clean and disinfect all the surfaces that are frequently touched on a regular basis, including:



•Light switches


•Lift buttons


Different disinfectants will be effective against different pathogens, so it is important that the correct product is used for the correct purpose.


A range of disinfectants are available on the market today, many with specialist formulations or actives for specific surfaces/applications. Not all formulations are effective against every microbe; different disinfecting agents have different ways of inactivating various microbes. Bacteria, bacterial spores, viruses and fungi are all different – some sanitisers will attack the cellular structure for example, while others act in a different way. Therefore, it is important to ensure the right disinfectants are selected according to the situation.

The ideal disinfectant is:

•Effective against a broad spectrum of pathogens

•Fast acting and acts in the presence of organic material

•Compatible with detergents

•Low toxicity

•Should not corrode/degrade instruments, metallic surfaces, rubbers, plastics or other materials



Disinfectants vary according to their ingredients or actives. The active in a disinfectant will help you to decipher whether the product is suitable for a particular surface and purpose.

Diversey, a leading global provider of hygiene solutions, has a range of industrial cleaners and disinfectants. Diversey products have been extensively tested and are effective against a wide spectrum of bacteria and viruses, to help you effectively arm your organisation against infection.

The company has also launched a new infection prevention campaign, Are You Ready?, in an effort to raise awareness of influenza and other illnesses. The initiative will highlight the importance of infection control and prevention and includes a range of materials and tools to effectively support and prepare organisations for potential outbreaks. The campaign will cover a period of 16 months, commencing in September 2011.

Further information on infection, product information, promotions and resources on effective hygiene are available at:

While we are seeing an increasing number of targeted and effective cleaning products emerge, an important consideration to ensure the sustainability of our environment is the role of green technology in providing a greater choice of environmentally-friendly products.

Green cleaning technologies

Preserving environments has become a priority for businesses, with issues such as global warming being so topical. Subsequently, pioneering innovative green technologies is becoming a necessity in order to protect our environment, whilst of course protecting organisations. Cleaning for health and the environment takes more than products alone; it also requires the right practices. There are specially devised programmes to ensure staff are adequately trained in green cleaning, such as Diversey’s Healthy High Performance Cleaning programme.

In addition, a number of Diversey’s chemical products are rigorously tested and certified by independent organisations, such as Green Seal, Environmental Choice, GreenGuard, EU Flower and Nordic Swan. These products include glass cleaners, general purpose cleaners, restroom cleaners, industrial degreasers, carpet cleaners, floor finishes/sealers and floor finish strippers.

Above all, it is important to remember that simple cleaning measures can make a significant difference to the provision of public health. Ensuring staff are adequately trained on the disinfectants available and their correct applications and equally, educating the public on personal hygiene, will ensure the risk of infection is minimised.

1.Centres for disease control and prevention. 2009 H1N1 Flu ('Swine Flu') and You. Available at: [Last accessed August 2011]


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