Tell Me More: Environmental Cleaning

Public Health 101

8 Dec 2022

What is environmental cleaning?
Environmental cleaning is the cleaning and disinfecting of an environment to reduce the risk of transmitting infectious diseases and to minimize the risk of injury. Maintaining a safe, clean, hygienic environment is essential in healthcare settings as well as school, workplace and home environments.

Why is it important?
The COVID-19 pandemic has reminded everyone of the importance of keeping an environment clean in order to reduce the risk of transmitting infections.

Regular environmental cleaning reduces the numbers of microorganisms on surfaces that can be transmitted to other individuals. Health care environments, specifically, are frequently contaminated with microorganisms, including bacteria, viruses and fungi. Routine cleaning and disinfection of surfaces, items and equipment in health care settings is an essential activity that protects clients, patients, residents, staff, and visitors from infection. Because of the increased risks and consequences of infection transmission in health care settings, the approach and intensity of cleaning required differs from that of non-health care settings.

The Difference between Cleaning and Disinfecting
While cleaning and disinfecting are sometimes used interchangeably, they are not the same. Cleaning surfaces and objects with soap and water reduces the amount of microorganisms by physically removing them. Disinfectants work by deactivating microorganisms. Ideally, you should select a disinfectant product with a drug identification number (DIN) and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use. A DIN indicates the product is approved for use in Canada.

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Updated 8 Dec 2022