Surface Cleanliness VS Hygiene – Why it Matters?

People are often confused about cleanliness and hygiene. Although they seem to have a lot in common, they are very different in terms of practices and assessments. Traditionally, surface cleanliness refers to the act of removing visible dirt, waste, and stains, which is often related to physical appearance; While hygiene focuses on the prevention of diseases, driven by the practices and measures taken to maintain health and prevent the spread of disease.

One of the lessons we have learned from the pandemic is that respiratory viruses can be devastating and cause substantial morbidity and mortality worldwide. The heightened global mobility has also amplified the transmission of pathogens and made it more challenging to halt the spread of diseases. Researchers have found growing evidence that contaminated fomites or surfaces play a key role in the spread of infections.[1]

Even if a surface appears clean, it may not meet the hygiene standard. Research shows that respiratory viruses, such as influenza and coronaviruses, have the ability to remain viable on surfaces for varying periods, ranging from a few hours to several days, depending on the type of surface and the particular virus.

According to a study published in Microorganisms, common environmental pathogens can survive on surfaces such as woods, steels, fabrics, and papers for weeks or even months.[2] The level of contamination on surfaces in public areas may vary, but in some instances, it can be high.

Common Bacteria Maximum Survival Days
VRE 120 days
Pseudomonas aeruginosa 480 days
Norovirus 7 days
Klebsiella 900 days
S. aureus, including MRSA 210 days
Influenza 2 days
HIV 7 days

So, how do we know if an environment is clean and safe, especially when tackling harmful invisible viruses? How many germs are actually there? How clean is clean? The traditional cleaning procedure means to achieve hygiene, but without quantifiable metrics to measure the result.

Fortunately, we could rely on a science-based approach to visualize hygiene and cleanliness. By doing so, we device appropriate cleaning protocols to help reduce the spread of illness-causing bacteria and viruses, even if we can’t see them.

Coming up, we will share more about how we visualize cleanliness and elevate environmental hygiene. For those who are interested in learning more about our latest offering, feel free to contact us at

[1] Leung, N. H. L. (2021). Transmissibility and transmission of respiratory viruses. Nature Reviews Microbiology, 19, 1–18.

[2] Wißmann, J. E., Kirchhoff, L., Brüggemann, Y., Todt, D., Steinmann, J., & Steinmann, E. (2021). Persistence of pathogens on inanimate surfaces: A narrative review. Microorganisms, 9(2), 343.