Should we forget fogging?
I imagine the majority of the general UK population, hadn’t heard of the terms “furloughing” or “fogging” before March of 2020! As an MD of a cleaning company with longstanding experience in the cleaning industry, I was aware of fogging technology for disinfecting large hard surface environments. However, last March it was a technique that our general office cleaning business in Worcestershire didn’t practice.
What is disinfectant fogging?
Fogging technology disperses fine particles of liquid sanitisers or disinfectants to provide whole room decontamination. Historically they have been used in pharmaceutical and food production factory cleaning.
Disinfectant fogging can be delivered in 3 ways:
The dry vapour process, where the disinfectant is released as a gas
The micro-condensation process of releasing disinfectant as microscopic aerosols.
The ionised process, where charged vaporised aerosols are expelled into the environment.
Fogging and Covid 19
As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the UK, there was an increase in the number of cleaning companies offering a fogging service. The technology seemed to take centre stage; fogging machines were like gold dust and those that were available were being sold for record prices.
I admit to being very sceptical of their use.
As we travelled through this year of restrictions, Covid 19 made its presence known in communities and businesses. Only one client asked if we could carry out a fogging clean during this time.
Covid secure cleaning
As the pandemic gathered pace, our commercial cleaning company saw a huge increase in requests for deep cleaning, both precautionary and after a Covid outbreak. We decided not to buy and use fogging machines. Instead, we worked hard to develop a Covid secure cleaning practice , ensuring our staff thoroughly sanitised surfaces with cloths and virucidal disinfectant. Our chosen disinfectant, Screen, does comply with the British Standard European Norm Accreditation BS EN 14476. We emphasised meticulous wiping of all contact and non-contact surfaces.
Is antiviral fogging safe?
I was interested to see if there was any foundation to my views that fogging may be problematic as a broad solution to cleaning during the Covid 19 pandemic. The Health & Safety Executive (HSE) have this month released updated guidance on disinfecting premises with fogging. They highlight potential issues such as:
Irritation to eyes and skin if the room isn’t sealed properly for adequate time.
Chemicals being emitted by soft furnishing after they’ve been sprayed.
Fogging is not always a suitable process for electronic equipment.
Uneven application on surfaces that contain hidden areas.
There are studies that question whether disinfection fogging actually kills SARS or coronavirus on surfaces, as there is limited data to support this. The same study says there is not enough evidence to determine whether it gives long term protection against viruses.
In their report on the Cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces in the context of COVID-19 that was released on May 16th 2020, the World Health Organisation go so far as to say that fogging is:
“not recommended for Covid-19… If disinfectants are
to be applied, this should be done with a cloth or wipe that
has been soaked in disinfectant”
When is disinfectant fogging useful?
Fogging does have its place. For example, if your premises has no soft furnishings or exposed electronics, it may be useful.
The HSE don’t go as far as the WHO as to rule out use of fogging completely. They have said that fogging technology should supplement, not replace, traditional cleaning methods.
The HSE state
“Airborne disinfection does not remove the need for surface cleaning”. (www.hse.gov.uk, accessed 15.2.21)
This is because organic debris and dirt on surfaces need to be removed first for disinfectants emitted in the fogging process to be effective. The HSE requirements say fogging equipment should be used by trained cleaning operatives, with the correct amount of disinfectant solution. This needs to comply with both The Control of Substances Hazardous to Health regulations (COSSH) and Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR).
Professional deep cleaning
I think it’s clear I’m not alone in my concerns on the wide use of fogging. I wouldn’t suggest forgetting it completely; it clearly has its place when the correct technology is used in certain industry sectors.
But, during this pandemic, I firmly advocate there is no substitute for manual deep cleaning. You can’t put a price on peace of mind or the safety of everyone who uses your premises.
If you are interested in a thorough deep clean, get in touch to see how we can help.