The typical way to disinfect a surface like a table, countertop, or desk is to wipe it with some sort of anti-bacterial. However, is this really the best way to clean your surfaces? Manually cleaning something, whether it is at home or in the office, only takes care of up to 50% of microbials, pathogens, viruses, and spores that may be harmful. Commercial sprays or wipes do not have the same impact that we have always believed them to have, and continuing to use them instead of other options can be detrimental to our health and our homes. In order to clean your surfaces more effectively, you should explore different ways of sanitizing, like using UV-C Light.
What exactly is UV-C Light? It’s a kind of UV light with specific wavelengths that can kill germs while remaining harmless to humans. It radiates from the sun, like many other electromagnetic frequencies, and it is the only wavelength to have its specific properties. The UV-C that you can take into your house to use is synthesized, but it’s just as effective. Westinghouse Electric Corporation created the UV-C lamp in the early 1930s to be used as a way to get rid of germs, and we are still benefiting from it today. As germicidal light, UV-C light deactivates the DNA of bacteria, viruses, and other harmful pathogens. This means that if they try to reproduce after exposure to UV-C light, they do not survive. The microorganisms soak up the UV-C wavelength, which causes destruction, or, scientifically, photo-disassociation. Within a fraction of a second, irreversible damage is caused to the microorganism’s DNA, leading to cell death and/or the inability to reproduce. After a certain amount of time, with bacteria either not being able to reproduce or dying off completely, there is a significant reduction in harmful microbes on surfaces until they are eradicated completely.
When a UV-C lamp is turned on, it produces three different types of energy: UVC energy, light, and infrared energy (heat). UVC energy is not visible to the naked eye, even though it comprises up to 90% of UV-C light. 3-4% of UV-C light is visible light, which is a shade of blue, and the remaining energy is heat. You can typically tell how much general energy your UV-C light or lamp is by how bright the blue light shines, although the presence of blue UV light does not necessarily indicate that the UVC energy is present since the light is created by gas inside the lamp, not specifically the UVC energy.
The negative effect of UV-C light on germs is scientifically proven. Several government reports support the impact, such as reports from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Many universities have also completed studies regarding the germicidal effect of UV-C light, like the University of Colorado, and labs like ARTI and Battelle have been doing independent testing for the study as well. UV-C is being used worldwide, not just in the United States, for disinfection, particularly to sanitize drinking water in other countries and to treat sewage as part of water treatment.
So, what are the effects of UV-C light other than killing germs? Lamps that produce UV-C light do not produce ozone, instead acting like a miniature sun indoors and conditioning the air in your house. That being said, while it does help to purify the air as well as surfaces, it does not have enough of an impact to completely replace air filters, so it should be used in conjunction with an air-conditioning unit, not instead of an air-conditioning unit. In addition to not producing ozone, UV-C does not produce any other harmful radiation, residues, or vapors. UV light in this capacity is completely harmless to humans and pets. We are exposed to different wavelengths of UV light every day just by being outside, namely UV-A, UV-B, and UV-C. UV-A is the wavelength most associated with the outdoors, since it is the kind that is known for tanning skin. UV-B, on the other hand, is the most dangerous of the three, having links to skin cancer and cataracts. UV-C is about as harmless as UV-A, only having a permanent negative impact on germs and harmful bacteria instead of the human body.
A UV-C light is not hard to obtain or install. Many people who use UV-C light to purify their homes and offices choose to use a lamp, something to just plug in and leave on to sanitize their surfaces. It is not necessary to scrub surfaces before using the light, but whether you do or not is your personal preference, depending on the kind of results you want to see. UV-C does take some time to get the full effect, so if you would rather see effects sooner or if you are in a rush, then cleaning first can hurry up the process. There are several ways to tell if the exposure to UV-C light is actually working to sanitize your surfaces. One way is to simply look at a moldy surface–there should be a visible decrease of mold in a short amount of time if the UV-C light is working properly. Depending on how noticeably dirty your surfaces are, you can typically see an improvement in the cleanliness of your surfaces. You will also be able to smell a difference, as the scent of contamination will get fainter and fainter with the more hygienic surfaces become.
Taking care of your UV-C lamp is very easy. Since its primary purpose is to clean surfaces using wavelengths, it self-cleans, using the UV-C rays to keep the light tube sanitized and degrading whatever normal debris might collect on the lamp. If you think it absolutely necessary to clean your lamp, Windex or regular cleaning supplies will suffice for normal debris, as long as they do not leave behind a residue that may reduce the impact of the UV-C light on your surfaces. If your UV-C lamp breaks or you find you do not need it anymore and want to get rid of it, you can dispose of it like you would dispose of any other glass trash, like light bulbs or fluorescent lamps.
Simply by shining UV-C light on your table, desk, or counter, you can sanitize your home or office space. This not only takes less time and energy since you do not have to physically scrub anything, but it also tends to be more effective. Most cleaning sprays only eradicate about half of harmful bacteria, and you may find yourself needing to clean more often in an attempt to get rid of all of the germs. A UV-C lamp is also not as expensive as one would think, so it is a much better option that does not break the bank. A one-time purchase of a UV-C lamp that you can plugin and leave to its own devices is a lot more economical and efficient than bottle after bottle of a commercial cleaner that does not even get rid of the majority of harmful bacteria on surfaces. UV-C light is neither harmful to the human body or to animals, so you do not have to worry about permanent side effects for either yourself, your family, or your pet since UV-C light does not produce harmful radiation, ozone, or chemicals. You will save time cleaning and, instead of spending an hour scrubbing all of the surfaces in your house or at your office, have time for other things that you enjoy, like hobbies or spending time with friends and family.
Making the switch to UV-C light to sanitize has not only hygienic, monetary, and scientific benefits, but personal as well, proving that UV-C light really is the best way to disinfect surfaces in your home and your office.