Touchscreen Hygiene

Diversey discusses best practice for cleaning high-contact areas

If it was not already obvious, the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted just how important good hygiene practice in our day-to-day lives. Retail destinations are full of touchpoints that hundreds of shoppers and going to put their hands on every single day, few more so than touchscreen devices that many visitors use to navigate the mall.

Infections can spread when someone touches a contaminated surface and then their mouth, eyes, or nose, allowing a virus or another pathogen that causes illness to enter their bodies. Surfaces can be contaminated when they are touched by someone who is ill or when that person coughs or sneezes and the tiny water droplets produced fall onto that surface. Donna Mitchell, sector marketing director for hospitality at Diversey UK & Ireland, says that using the right disinfectants for the screen and encouraging users to disinfect their hands are key to reducing the risk.

“Operators should ideally provide hand disinfectant next to the touchscreen and encourage everyone to use it before and after they touch the screen,” says Mitchell. She says that whilst installing portable pump-top bottles are simple and convenient, in the long run a professional dispenser mounted next to the touchscreen can offer numerous benefits, not least that they will not go missing because they are fixed in position and often incorporate features that help prevent them running out of product.

“Professional dispensers are generally better at delivering a correct and consistent amount of product,” she points out. “This reduces wastage, and hence costs, and helps ensure good results. They also look more professional and can usually be decorated with useful messages and branding.”

The choice of product, says Mitchell, is important. Formulations containing a minimum of 70% alcohol are recommended for hand disinfection and will be effective against a wide range of pathogens. She advises to look for products that pass standard European Norm tests that demonstrate their effectiveness, as products that pass multiple test will offer broad protection.

The second aspect to touchscreen disinfection is the screen itself. “This should be disinfected regularly throughout the day and there is a case to be made for cleaning it after every single use,” she advises. “That might not be practical which is why people should disinfect their hands before and after touching the screen.

The problem with regular cleaning is that any surface could theoretically be contaminated again right away. A new type of product removes this limitation by offering ongoing protection, initially disinfecting like a conventional formulation but drying to form a near-invisible polymer layer.

“This retains the disinfectant which can then can then destroy pathogens that are deposited on the surface, offering ongoing protection for up to 24 hours,” Mitchell explains. “Efficacy is demonstrated by the BSI PAS 2424 Residual Antimicrobial Efficacy or the even more stringent EPA RSS tests. Products that pass these tests in ‘dirty conditions’ can be used as a cleaner-disinfectant and there is no need – unlike many alternatives – to clean the surface before it is applied.”

She adds: “Protecting customers and staff through a combination of hand hygiene and touchscreen disinfection need not be difficult. Cleaning suppliers will be able to advise on the products from their ranges that offer the most practical and effective solution for a customer’s specific requirements.”

This was first published in Retail Destination Fortnightly. Click here to subscribe.

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