What Is UV-C, And How Can It Protect You From Viruses?

What Is UV-C, And How Can It Protect You From Viruses?

You’ve probably heard of ultraviolet or UV for short. Since the pandemic took the world by storm, hundreds of UV-based cleaning products popped up. UV cleaners for phone screens, UV cleaners for toothbrushes…there was a UV cleaner for every conceivable cleaning need.  With all the buzz surrounding UV based cleaning, we’ll bet you don’t know how it works. A basic understanding of the sanitization benefits of UV light is essential in deciding if it’s the best choice for you.

In this article, we'll explain precisely what UV-C is, how it can help you, and why it's better than traditional cleaning agents in many cases.

What is UV-C? 

There are three main types of UV rays: UV-A, UV-B and UV-C.

UV-A light is the kind you’re being exposed to when you go out in the sun. UV-B light is the kind that causes sunburn and skin cancer. UV-C, however, is unique. The Earth's ozone layer absorbs most of it, so we're not exposed to it on a daily basis. Regardless, it has the shortest wavelength (between 200 and 400 nanometers), so it’s the most powerful of them all. 

UV-C light kills germs like viruses and bacteria, serving as one of the most convenient ways to disinfect an area. Unlike traditional cleaning solutions, UV-C light can be used practically anywhere on almost anything. In a study conducted by Columbia University, UV-C was successful at eliminating the H1N1 virus. It’s also widely used by hospitals to decontaminate surgical instruments and operating rooms.

So, you can be certain that UV-C will be effective in cleaning your home or workplace.

How can it protect you? 

The high frequency of UV light scrambles the nuclear material of bacteria and viruses, severely damaging them in the process. This damage triggers mutations that prevent them from reproducing properly, effectively stopping them from spreading. Once they can’t multiply anymore, they’re considered dead since they’re no longer infectious.

Since UV-C is essentially light, it can reach all the hidden nooks and crannies that would have been overlooked if the room was cleaned manually. Unlike other harsh cleaning agents, UV-C can be used on practically everything, making it especially useful to clean delicate items like your computer screen.

Previously, cleaning might have been a hassle, since you had to find the right cleaning solution for your phone screen, sunglasses, keys and other personal belongings. Since you can use UV-C on practically everything, all you need to do is make sure UV-C light runs along the surface of these items for a few minutes and you’re good to go!

UV-C is also effective on all types of bacteria. Regardless of whether it’s a virus, germ or even a fungi, UV-C can eradicate it completely. Some cleaning solutions have fineprint where they only promise to rid a surface of a certain type of bacteria. With UV-C, you can rest easy knowing that your family is protected no matter what’s on your belongings.

Is it better than traditional cleaning agents? 

They’re faster. With traditional cleaning agents, you'll need to apply them onto the affected region, use a cloth to clean it off and repeat the process over and over again until the area is clean. With UV-C light, germs are killed in seconds, or should we say, at the speed of light. All you need to do is ensure the light reaches the affected areas, and you're good to go! 

They can clean hard-to-reach areas. This benefit can't be understated, and it opens up a world of possibilities for various industries. Especially if you're using UV-C light for your home, it can make cleaning much more fun and enjoyable for those who are advanced in age since they won’t have to bend over or squat down to clean hard to reach surfaces. With smaller items like your keys, phone or sunglasses, you'd simply need to pop them into a small case for a few minutes, and all the cleaning would be done for you. Gone are the days where you'd have to sit down with a cloth and wipe each item or sanitize them individually. 

They’re non-toxic. When you consider all of the chemicals that traditional cleaning agents have and how some of them can go airborne once you spray a cleaning agent…it’s no surprise that UV-C is safer by comparison. UV-C makes environments safer for young children or the elderly who can suffer adverse effects from harsh chemicals used in cleaning agents.

They’re more affordable. It's easy to get sticker shock when you see the price tag for a UV-C machine, but you need to consider all of the various cleaning supplies you'd need to replace it. When it comes to cleaning, most people are accustomed to using a different cleaning solution for everything. Floors, tables, glassware… the cost of all of these can begin to add up quite quickly. With UV-C, you’d only need one machine to clean all of your belongings with, regardless of how sensitive they are. Furthermore, most UV-C machines are quite reasonably priced, and it's easy to find a good bargain for them online.

They’re far more effective. UV-C light kills a wide array of harmful organisms. Everything from bacteria, fungi, mould and viruses will be destroyed once you run UV-C light over it. Conversely, other disinfection methods might create a damp environment where mould would actually thrive in. To add to this, UV-C light kills pathogens without immunity. This makes all the difference when you're dealing with antibiotic-resistant bacteria. To put it in simple terms, UV-C light disinfection is a physical method for killing bacteria, so there's no opportunity for the bacteria to build immunity to it. If you'd tried to use traditional antimicrobial agents and disinfectants instead, you’d be in for a rude shock!

When are traditional cleaning agents the better choice?

Here are some of the things you should consider if you’re deciding between the two:

How much time do you have? Do you need multiple rooms cleaned quickly, at the same time? If so, traditional cleaning agents might work better since you can divide up the cleaning resources between the rooms and get them cleaned, whereas with a UV-C machine, you'd have to wait for it to finish sanitizing one room before moving it to the next. Also, since UV light can be blocked by furniture and other objects, you might have to run multiple cycles to ensure each part of the room is cleaned thoroughly.

How many staff do you have available to aid in the cleaning process? When you clean with UV-C, you only need one person to supervise the machine and run another cycle if it's necessary. However, cleaning with traditional cleaning agents could require more hands, especially if you're covering more than one area.

How big is the area that needs to be cleaned? If the site to be cleaned is more extensive than traditional cleaning supplies can cover, running a few cycles of UV-C cleaning might be the better bet. 

All in all, UV-C is an excellent option if you’re looking for an efficient means to clean a space. They’re quicker, far less toxic and are much easier to use than their traditional cleaning agent counterparts. So if you’re looking for an effective cleaning solution for your home, office or school, a UV-C sterilizer is the way to go!

References:
https://nymag.com/strategist/article/does-uv-light-kill-germs-best-sterilizer.html
https://www.insider.com/does-uv-light-kill-germs
https://www.cuimc.columbia.edu/news/can-uv-light-fight-spread-influenza

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