Environmental Control

bacterial environment control

This is a simple idea and once you know it, it’s really easy to apply to lots of different situations:

germs like the warm and wet

So actually, when you wipe down a kitchen surface with a warm wet cloth, you are increasing the total area in which bacteria can thrive. If you use kitchen spray, that will kill a lot of those bacteria at first (if you leave the bleach on for long enough), but really that only clears the decks for the remaining, most robust, beasts to colonise the entire surface, like the settlers of the American West, and of course also the cloth you are using. So constantly wiping down worktops is not necessarily the right thing to do; it’s show-clean, it’s not real infection control. Your cloth is the germiest thing in your kitchen, pretty much, unless you use a new one each time.

Cleaning a surface, then, can temporarily raise the bacterial load, as it creates a temporarily more hospitable environment for bacteria. It’s important to not constantly wipe over clean and dry surfaces without reason. It’s important to get a surface DRY as quickly as possible. Most germs die quickly without moisture.

(So a steam mop, while not being amazingly effective at sterilising a floor when used in the normal way, because the steam needs many minutes to kill most bacteria, is nevertheless a very good choice as the microfibre head grabs the bacteria (mechanical removal) and the floors dry almost instantly (environment control), so it’s getting them coming and going.

To recap:

  • Remove as much bacteria as possible from the area.
  • Use a clean cloth that has been washed at over 60 degrees C for more than 10 minutes.
  • Make the environment inhospitable: make things cold and dry.

You can take this further by thinking about the actual surfaces (materials) and vectors. I’ll write tips on those soon.