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Antibacterial surfaces (including surface sprays) revealed
Antibacterial tiles have been introduced many years ago, but the term had been widely used without proper justifications and proof. The most common marketing approach is that some tiles are non-porous, which make bacteria impossible to penetrate into the tile. This is true in a sense but regardless of how non-porous a tile is, bacteria and viruses can still stay on the surface which by no-means, make them antibacterial.
TiO2 (Titanium Dioxide) treated tiles, have also made an appearance in the past claiming antibacterial functions. Simply put, TiO2 treated tiles function by reacting with sunlight and then killing off bacteria and viruses that falls onto the surface. This Ceramic advancement came with lots of hope, but was not very successful with its delivery.
From a chemical reaction point of view, TiO2 does kill bacteria on its surface with sunlight, but what happens if sunlight doesn't reach the surface? Well, it doesn't do anything. So the tile is limited in function at places where sunlight can reach. And just to make matters worst, what happens if you have physical scum or dirt on the surface? Well again, sunlight doesn't reach it! So, it gives a false interpretation that it will clean itself when it doesn't.
Similar surface treatments such as Silver nano-particles, which doesn't require sunlight to function, are also trying their way into the market. Similarly, surfaces tend to gather scum or dirt, and as the surface gathers more matter, the Silver is not able to function. So, the only way for the silver nano-particles to continue to provide its antibacterial property, is for you to continuously clean the surface from dirt, debris, dust, etc. Silver nano-particles also don't kill germs and bacteria right away, and how long the germs and bacteria lives on silver depends on its type.
Silver nano-particles can also potentially be a health hazard when inhaled. Thus, any sprayed on treatments, if done incorrectly, may have remaining particles in the air you breath. Even though we want to avoid severe acute respiratory syndrome from the Coronavirus, introducing highly toxic matters in your home may expose you to other forms of risks. Is it really worth it?
The last and latest form of chemical solution is a combination of antibacterial formula and a solution that slides off surface dirt. This form of chemical is better than the previous, but from our understanding, it needs gravity to pull down dirt. In other words, this only works on walls and not floors. Similar to wax and car coatings, there's always a half-life to these treatments. For one to depend on these treatments to magically work, without really seeing the effects, is rather risky. You cannot test each area that you are getting a good application and you do not know if it is in fact germ or virus free. Again, you are exposing your home with more chemicals than needed.
So what's the best solution?
From our point of view, simple soap or detergent is still your best option to clean your hard surface. Of course, that depends on what your surface is made of. Ceramic and Porcelain tiles are still easier to clean, when compared to other porous materials like stone. But even for natural stone surfaces, there are surface sealants available in the market that will also fill up their surface pores. Practice proper maintenance and regular cleaning will be the best option for an average home.
Please do yourself and family a favor by researching before deciding on any surface treatments for your home. Proper regular personal hygiene practices goes a long way. Please wash your hands!