Using the correct cleaning methods has become vital in combatting the coronavirus pandemic.
University of Newcastle Professor of Nursing Brett Mitchell, a top researcher in infection control in the health-care sector, said it was important to clean using detergent, not just disinfectant.
"You can't just splash disinfectant on a surface and expect it to work if the surface is dirty," Professor Mitchell said.
"You can start by cleaning with any kind of product that has detergent, then disinfect after that. The disinfection is the extra step if you want to do it."
He said some two-in-one products include detergent and disinfectant.
The available data suggests that "if you clean well, detergents and soaps look like they'll inactivate the coronavirus".
"In essence, cleaning with any kind of product that has a detergent in it is good," he said.
"If you want to go the extra step, you could use some disinfectant after that or you could use a wipe that has a disinfectant in it.
"Cleaning is more important at times like now when we're dealing with something novel and when there are sick members in your house."
In these situations, cleaning once a day was great.
"If it's more frequent, even better," he said.
"If you've got someone sick in the house, that might be a good time to start thinking about disinfecting things that they're touching."
Frequently touched items to clean include remote controls, fridge doors, kitchen cupboards, kitchen surfaces, taps and handles for doors, cupboards and windows, ovens, buttons for microwaves and washing machines and light switches, along with phones and iPads [check manufacturer's instructions first].
"You don't want to use a cloth that's sopping wet because you don't want to destroy electrical products.
"That's why things like a good old wipe or disposable cloth with detergent in it could be the safest way to go in terms of not ruining the products around your home."
He said the best method for cleaning was to wipe in an "S-shape pattern".
This technique is used to avoid re-contamination.
"The key thing is you're starting at one point and moving through an S-shape and not contaminating as you go through," he said.
"Think of someone wiping a surface down. After they've finished wiping it, whatever you've used [a cloth with detergent for example] potentially has dirt, viruses or bacteria on it. You don't want to use that to clean a door handle. You've really got to give it a rinse."
Cloths should also be washed after use.
"It's a bit like handling chicken at home and you spill a bit on your kitchen bench. You'll be a bit paranoid about cleaning it up and rinsing out your cloth afterwards. It's the same sort of principle," he said.
"That's where disinfectant comes into play. When wiping and cleaning, it's killing germs in the cloth so there's less risk of contamination. That's what cleaners are taught to do in hospitals - that approach."
Disposable wipes and paper towel, however, are other options for cleaning that would avoid the need for washing and rinsing.
Cleaning plays an important part in reducing infection transmission.
"If you think about how much people cough and splutter when sick, every time they're doing that they're contaminating the environment around them," Professor Mitchell said.
The available data appears to show that the coronavirus could "survive on surfaces from a few hours to a few days".
It seemed to survive on plastics and metals for longer than other things.
"That's why the cleaning is important because it could still be sitting there from the person who coughed earlier in the morning."
He said the coronavirus could be transmitted through "people touching the environment and then touching their face".
"There are lots of studies that show people touch their face many times a day. It's habitual," he said.
"That's where the role of cleaning comes into play. Look at hospitals as an example of where some of the better evidence is. I was involved in a big study last year [published in a top journal].
"That showed if you improve cleaning in hospitals, you can reduce infection. For the first time ever, we were able to show that we've improved cleaning and it's reduced infections as a result."
Hand hygiene goes "hand-in-hand with cleaning".
Hands can become contaminated from a surface or, vice versa, hands can contaminate a surface.
However, achieving perfect hygiene is difficult. For example, door handles often have to be opened and taps turned on while food is prepared.
"We don't live in a perfect world. Coronavirus aside, our bodies are designed to deal with bacteria all the time," Professor Mitchell said.
"We need to be ingesting bacteria in our mouth and stomach because that's how we survive and fight off infections," he said, adding that bacteria enables food to be digested.
The aim was not to create a sterile environment.
"What we want to do is reduce the risk when there's something novel and new around. That's where more attention to cleaning comes into play," he said.
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