Noor Everts
Junior Marketing Associate

Will Manual Cleaning Still Be Necessary if I Use technology based on UV?

UV based light works by ‘line of sight’, meaning that the light must reach a surface in order to kill the bacteria and other micro-organisms on it. The effectiveness of UV based light therefore depends on direct access to the pathogens. The pathogens must be fully exposed to the light, and not be covered by shadows or dust or any other types of contamination.¹ Therefore, manual cleaning is necessary. We will discuss this in more detail in this article.

Will Manual Cleaning Still Be Necessary if I Use UV Light?

What do you have to look out for with visible dirt?

As UV based technology emits short wavelengths, it cannot penetrate dirt, heavy pollution and liquids. Such things therefore remain present on the surface to be disinfected. UV based light does not work in the same way as chemical disinfectants, which do remove these substances. This means that if the surface to be disinfected has visible dirt on it, this must be removed – for instance, with a cloth and water. Research has shown that disinfection with UV based light is highly effective when dirt and dust are removed with water before a surface is exposed to technology based on UV.

Tip: Check for visible dirt and rinse it off with water and a cloth!

Where do shadows fit into this?

The fact that UV based light works by line of sight also means that it does not work when there are shadows present (Figure 1). Therefore, when using UV based technology to disinfect surfaces, you must ensure that the light reaches the entire surface and that no part of the surface is covered by shadows. This is why UV based disinfection boxes tend to be highly reflective, to ensure that light reaches all parts of the box. It is crucial that no objects be placed on top of each other inside the box, as such objects will cast shadows!

Tip: Make sure that no shadows are created when using a UV based disinfection box. Do not stack things on top of each other. Make sure that the light reaches all parts of the box!

When disinfecting a room with UV based light, it is quite likely that shadows will be cast. Therefore, manual cleaning is useful in those areas where shadows are present, and which thus cannot be reached by UV based light. There is a great deal of research that shows that manual cleaning and manual disinfection methods have their limitations, with studies showing that only 30-50% of targeted surfaces are properly cleaned due to product and protocol failures. This increases the need for UV based disinfection to provide an additional layer of enhanced protection to complement manual (chemical) cleaning and disinfection.

If you would like to learn more about UV based disinfection, be sure to read this article about the effectiveness of products based on UV.

  1. Trowan. C. (2021). UV based disinfection technology: Why an industry standard must be set. https://www.healtheuropa.eu/uvc-disinfection-technology-why-an-industry-standard-must-be-set/109678/
Figuur 1: Shadow

Noor Everts
Junior Marketing Associate