UV cleaning lights are special tools that emit UV spectrum light, which is different than the normal light a flashlight or lamp puts out. UV light has known benefits for killing bacteria — both airborne and surface-dwelling.

Ultraviolet basically means “beyond violet”, which is a way of describing the normal spectrum of light we can see. The higher the wavelength frequency, which is how light is measured, the shorter the gaps between light waves.

Ultraviolet light is essentially a much higher wavelength than visible light, and that creates some interesting effects on things it comes in contact with.

Effects of UV Light On Organic Substances

Because of the ultra narrow wavelength of UV light, it disrupts the bonds between microscopic particles and scrambles the DNA/RNA so that they cannot multiply.

Scientists consider the organism “dead” at this point because it cannot reproduce, and in the case of bacteria that means it’s no longer infectious. The main reason bacteria and viruses are dangerous is because they can multiply and cause havoc in the body — and multiply faster than the body can get them under control at first.

Neutralizing bacteria’s ability to multiply stops its negative effects.

UV light can be dangerous to people and pets, though, which is why many disinfecting UV light tools come with shielding and other safeguards. (It’s the same idea as why we wear sunscreen on sunny days to protect our skin.)

How Fast Does UV Disinfection Work?

The speed at which ultraviolet light disinfects surfaces and objects depends on two things:

  1. The volume/amount of light hitting the surface
  2. The closeness of the source of light to the surface

The first one is the most obvious: more UV light works more effectively than less. But proximity matters, too.

For instance, a UV light placed just an inch above a petri dish with E. Coli only takes a few minutes for complete sterilization. A UV light shined into a large storage closet, on the other hand, may take 30 minutes for complete disinfection. (Source)

See it in action here:

Video by Sci-Inspi

UV Disinfection For Modern Cleaning Services

A lot of families ask if UV lights can stop coronavirus. According to the FDA, while UVA and UVB are less dangerous to humans, they are also less effective at stopping coronavirus. UVC, however, has positive tested effects at rendering the virus inert.

This explains why early into the pandemic people were given the advice to leave their masks outside in the sun for 30 minutes between uses, since the sun’s ultraviolet rays would neutralize any of the virus on the mask’s material.

However, the FDA’s article does note that UV is only effective in this manner when it’s a direct light-to-object exposure. Anything that gets in the way and blocks the UV light can completely disrupt the process. And its effectiveness is still based on the factors mentioned above: proximity and light volume.

If the UV light is too far away and isn’t generating sufficient light volume, it won’t be effective at stopping viruses.

UV disinfection is another great tool in a professional cleaner’s toolbox, alongside electrostatic cleaning that is also effective against bacteria and viruses.