Light switches--their appearance benign, but what is hiding where the eye cannot see?
Light Switches--Filthier Than a Toilet Seat
Light switches-- well-known harborers of germs and bacteria--are one of the filthiest surfaces in homes, schools, and offices.
Researches from the University of Houston conducted a test of several hotels and rooms across three states and discovered some disgusting truths.
The light switches tested positive for coliform bacteria--fecal matter--and contained 112.7 bacterial colony forming units (CFUs) per square centimeter, as well as 122.7 CFU's of aerobic bacteria (Example: E.Coli and Staph), scoring them higher on the gross scale than the average toilet seat.
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By any standard, that's quite a bit of poop and bacteria.
For comparison, one study of environmental cleanliness in hospitals recommended a top limit of 5 CFU per cubic centimeter squared.
Additional studies found that, even in Universities with extremely high standards of cleanliness and disinfection, trace amounts of bacteria for were found in hard to reach/clean spots on the light switches--rendering all prior cleaning and disinfection attempts pointless, as only a small amount is necessary to sustain growth and pass along illness-causing bacteria and pathogens.
The findings underscore several cleaning challenges regarding high-contact surfaces, and light switches, in general.
- The wrong cleaning chemicals are being used.
- The surfaces are not being cleaned well enough, and;
- The incorrect cleaning procedures are being implemented.
According to Brad Evans, GM of OptiSolve;
This essentially defeats the cleaning that is currently being performed. If there are pathogens still present, as soon as someone touches the switch, they start spreading potentially harmful contamination around the facility.
How to Clean a Light Switch
For regular cleaning and disinfection:
- Spray the full surface of the light switch plate with an EPA registered Safer Use multi-surface cleaning and disinfectant product.
- Use a Q-tip to get around the crevices surrounding the switch, as well as underneath--the two most commonly overlooked and contaminated locations.
- Wipe down the surface with a high-performance microfiber cloth or disposable towel.
- For non-health care environments, consider using an EPA category IV disinfectant, which maintains some residual efficacy--combating bacterial growth and the spread of pathogens after the product has dried or evaporated.
To increase the efficacy of the cleaning procedures and cleanliness level of light switches and plates, monitor the use of the switches and encourage occupants to wipe down the surface with a disposable disinfectant wipe when entering or exiting an empty room.
References & Resources
- Fear germs? Beware the light switch
- Why your cellphone has more germs than a toilet
- The most contaminated surfaces in hotel rooms
- Infectious Germs: Where They Love to Hide
- How To Clean A Light Switch, The Dirtiest Spot In Your Home
With flu season upon us, and GI bacteria being one of the leading causes of illness in schools and businesses, as well as a significant indicator of poor work performance and output of employees and students--cleaning methods, attention to detail, and the chemicals and equipment employed in the cleaning process must be assessed and updated to address the increasing challenge of facility infection control, specifically for high-touch surfaces.
Research has shown that, overall, in-house cleaning staff is less effective and more expensive to maintain than outsourced cleaning services--due, in part, to the lack of upward mobility and training offered by most businesses for custodial staff.
Those factors combine to create unsafe and unhealthy working and learning environments and contribute to the skyrocketing healthcare expenses in the U.S.
Outsourcing your organization's cleaning and infection control needs is a vital component of a highly productive facility, and can be cost-effectively managed with minimal management overhead.
If you would like more information regarding cleaning and disinfection practices for high-contact surfaces at your school or business or would like to learn about the fantastic benefits of outsourcing your organization's janitorial services--contact us today for a free quote!
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