Effective Cleaning Products



Before we discuss effective cleaning products we need to understand three important elements, these are firstly the difference between a bacteria and  a virus, secondly, cleaning or sanitising, and thirdly, kills 99.9% or 99.9999% of bacteria and viruses?

Firstly, bacteria or virus, whats the difference? Bacteria and viruses are very small, whilst some developed bacterial colonies can be seen with the naked eye a virus can only be seen with the help of a microscope. Typically you can get 500,000 individual viruses on a pin head and as you require as few as 7 individual viruses to catch Corvid-19 you can see the problems we face.


Bacteria are one-celled organisms that can be found naturally throughout our bodies and in our environment. Most are harmless and do not cause infection, in-fact they  help us to digest food, protect us against other bacteria, and provide nutrients for our body. Seen under a microscope they look like rods, balls, or spirals, and they can multiply quickly under the right conditions. Importantly bacteria need 3 things to survive and multiply, food, a hospitable environment and water. If we deny them of any one of these the colony will die out. 


Viruses on the other hand, technically are not alive and they cannot multiply without a host. Viruses are much smaller than bacteria and attach themselves to living cells using that cells' genetic material to reproduce themselves.  Viruses can remain viable on a surface for days or months, Norovirus has been proven to remain potent after remaining on a surface for over 12 months.


Cleaning or Sanitising 

Whilst effective cleaning is sufficient to keep most bacteria at bay, to eliminate viruses we need to sanitise. Sanitisation kills a greater amount of bacteria and is required for any surface that comes into contact with food.  A sanitiser is defined as "A chemical that kills 99.999% or more of the specific test bacteria or viruses".

How important is that 99.999% figure and what does it mean.

We very often hear the statement "Kills 99% of all known germs", that doesn't mean that it kills 99% of all germs known to mankind but 99% of a measured amount of bacteria applied to a Petri dish under lab conditions. Sanitisation products approved for hospitals and medical facilities are expected to achieve a Log kill of 6 or a 99.9999% reduction in pathogens, this means in a population of 1,000,000 colony forming units a 99.9999% reduction will leave 1 colony forming unit intact. Logarithmic (log) reduction is the standard used for quantifying sanitation. 

           Log Kill Table.

When speaking in terms of bacterial, viral and fungal pathogens, log reduction is incredibly important. Because these organisms are numbered in the millions and due to the rapid doubling time of many microorganisms, 10,000 colony forming units may  become 80,000 within one hour, 640,000 after two hours and beyond their original population by three hours. Therefore choosing products that have a legitimate claim to a  ≥6 log reduction is important. 

Importance of standards.

European Standards are a key component of the Single European Market and represent one of the most important issues to help us in choosing the correct cleaning product. European Standards provide us with a common basis for understanding and comparing the effectives of various cleaning or sanitising products in their ability to perform the task required.

The Food Standards Agency state that products should meet one of the following standards as an absolute  minimum - BS EN 1276 or BS EN 13697 however there are more, listed below are just some of the key standards we need to look for...

EN1276 Bactericidal activity Quantitive suspension test.

BS EN 1276 is the European standard for the bactericidal activity of chemical disinfectants as proof of effective infection control against harmful micro-organisms such as MRSA, Salmonella, E.Coli, Flu Virus (H1N1) and Pseudomonas Aeruginosa.  In order to pass this standard, products have been tested by an independent laboratory and must prove a bacteria kill rate of 99.999% within 5 minutes.

EN 13697 Quantitive non-porous surface test.


Quantitative non-porous surface test for the evaluation of bactericidal and/or fungicidal activity of disinfectants used in food, industrial, domestic and institutional areas. EN 13697 is a phase 2 step 2 carrier test performed on surface disinfectants intended for use without mechanical action(i.e. rubbing) in the medical area, food, industrial, domestic and institutional areas to test the efficacy of the product against bacteria and/or fungi. Efficacy against bacteria is mandatory for disinfectants in these areas. Typically tested against E. coli, E. hirae, P. aeruginosa, S. aureus and MRSA.

EN1650 Quantitive suspension test.

Chemical disinfectants and antiseptics - Quantitative suspension test for the evaluation of fungicidal or yeasticidal activity of chemical disinfectants and antiseptics used in food, industrial, domestic and institutional areas. Chemical disinfectants and antiseptics -This standard applies to products that are used in food, industrial, domestic and institutional areas excluding areas and situations where disinfection is medically indicated and excluding products used on living tissues except those for hand hygiene in the above considered areas.

EN14476 Anti Viral activity Quantitative suspension test.

This European Standard specifies a test method and the minimum requirements for veridical activity of chemical disinfectant and antiseptic products that form a homogeneous physically stable preparation when diluted with hard water or in the case of ready-to-use products. Surface disinfectants are part of broader preventive strategies preventing the transmission of bacteria, fungi and viruses in medical institutions. To evaluate their virucidal efficacy, these products must be tested with appropriate model viruses with different properties under conditions representing practical application in hospitals. Typically tested against Influenza H1N1, Rotavirus, Coronavirus, Norovirus and Vacinia virus.

BSI PAS 2424 Quantitative surface test for the evaluation of residual antimicrobial efficacy of liquid chemical disinfectants on hard non-porous surfaces.  


Many biocide products, such as liquid sanitisers, claim to have residual efficacy: i.e. they claim to be “long-lasting” or to offer “24-hour protection”. The usual test is to apply the product to a hard surface and leave it there for a defined period of time. However because the surface is undisturbed following application, such a test may not reflect reality. PAS 2424 by contrast provides a test that more closely duplicates how these products are used in the real world. The method is intended to determine the activity of commercial formulations or active substances under the conditions in which they are used in accordance with BS EN 13697:2001. It thereby provides a rigorous and credible test that enables residual antimicrobial activity to be independently measured and assessed in a way that’s more relevant to how these products are used outside the laboratory.


To make matters slightly more complicated, it is not a simple exercise to just select a cleaning product by the standards it has achieved. When dealing with viruses like Covid-19 its important to assess that the chosen product has been tested, using the relevant standards, and proven to kill the pathogen in question, and to understand the conditions of the test. Many products say on the label that they may kill a certain pathogen but fail to say it requires a "soak time" of between 30 seconds and 5 minutes. This information is vital for cleaning operatives in understanding the correct way to use the product in order to achieve the desired outcome. Very often cleaning operatives can be seen applying a sanitiser only to wipe it off almost immediately rendering the effectiveness of the sanitising agent redundant.

In conclusion, in choosing a suitable sanitising solution for the present Corvid-19 pandemic it should have achieved ...

BS EN 1276,

BS EN 13697,

BS EN 14476

PAS 2424

and tested to be effective against the Coronavirus achieving a Log Kill greater than 6.

If you would like help choosing your cleaning products contact Genica now on 07805 793223