Using Ultraviolet (UVC) to disinfect during Covid-19

We run a holiday home rental business over in Wirksworth, and soon we'll be reopening for business following the initial Covid-19 lockdown. One of the problems we face is how to disinfect the cottage between guest stays. In essence we have to wipe down with biocide any surface the guest may have touched during their stay. All kitchen utensils, crockery, glassware, etc has to be cleaned. We also have to swap out and clean all bedding, towels, pillows, mattress protectors. All this has to be done in a gap of 4 hours between bookings.

Even those precautions do not deal with soft furnishings such as, mattresses, sofas, chairs, curtains, carpets. So we need some way of dealing with disinfecting those soft surfaces. The rental agency (Sykes) has suggested the use of fogging machines. These work by tipping in a couple of litres of correctly diluted disinfectant into the tank of the machine. By various methods the fogger converts the liquid into a very fine mist. You spray this mist around the areas you want to disinfect and eventually the mist settles on surfaces, the water evaporates leaving a fine film of biocide to kill bacteria and virus.

I wouldn't by choice sleep in a room, on a bed which has been coated with toxic chemicals even though it is relatively small amounts. There's just too many cases where what was "safe practice" in the past turns out to be a health hazard.  There's also the risk to the person applying the fog in the rooms, while it can be mitigated by the use of a good respirator, PPE clothing and safety goggles.

So we have investigated the use of using Ultraviolet Light (UV-C) to sterilise the rooms. While the light is dangerous to eyes and skin it is also very effective at treating and killing bacteria, virus, fleas and their eggs, mites and their eggs. Unsurprisingly there is a scarcity of UV-C lights as demand is high, there are also a lot of fakes on Ebay and Amazon  (mostly from China). However after a couple of months of searching we found a 72 Watt UV-C 203V AC light supplied in the UK. We've purchased one and a tripod stand designed to hold it.  We can now sterilise a 25 square metre room in 15 minutes without the use of chemicals. We have to leave the room when it is in operation and also wear specialist anti-UVC goggles/safety glasses. We also need to reposition the light to avoid deep shadows preventing disinfection.

We'll still have to clean touch surfaces, but the UV-C light will be used first for general sterilisation before we get to work wiping down the room. This reduces infection risk to the cleaners. We are now ready to go.


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