Started from China, coronavirus continues to wreak havoc across the planet and does not seem to stop any sooner. There is no cure so far and preventive measures are all we have against the pandemic to stop it from spreading.
As we navigate through the coronavirus and Covid 19 subjected world, every little preventive effort counts. From wearing masks to avoid touching shared surfaces at public places can be a decisive factor between catching the disease and staying protected. Even the slightest effort for preventive measures against the disease matters a lot and that is why the World Health Organization and the governments across the world are urging people to follow them repetitively.
Today, biometric scanners, specially fingerprint readers are very common at workplaces, production facilities, financial institutions, banks, law enforcement agencies and wherever biometric fingerprint scan is a requirement.Some of these services and production facilities can be essential and using fingerprint scanners can be a part of it. Even in the countries that stopped using biometrics due to coronavirus spread, essential services are operational.
This article covers an important topic: How to clean sensor surface and perform fingerprint scanner disinfection? Our fingerprint scanner cleaning tips will guide you through the scanner disinfection and enabling you to avoid Covid 19 spread.
Coronavirus spread: the worse global crisis since WW2
This decade of the 21st century had a rather grim beginning. On January 3rd, the world peace came under threat with the assassination of Iranian major general Qasem Soleimani in an air strike at Baghdad International Airport. The sequence of events that followed instantly gripped the world under the fear of major escalation, including war. However, far worse was about to be unleashed.
While news channels were flashing headings about the possibility of a war, a mysterious pneumonia out break in the central Chinese city of Wuhan hardly got any spotlight. By mid-January, the virus had left the Chinese shores and reached Thailand as the country reported its first confirmed case of the new virus. Since then, the coronavirus infection has spread across the globe and claimed thousands of lives.
With more than 2.8 million infections and fatalities closing 200 thousand mark, the Covid 19 curve has just refused to bend. Coronavirus has affected almost all aspect of human ecosystems to the level of disruption. Its shock waves has caused stock markets to fall, trade to shut and human movement to stop. Aircrafts are grounded and vehicles are off the road.Empty roads and shut stores in some of the world’s busiest cities now make them look like a ghost town. Covid 19 continues to test the healthcare systems and human ability to develop a cure.
In a recent press briefing, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said that coronavirus pandemic was the worst global crisis since World War II. Amid this global emergency, preventive measures and supportive care are all we have to against the disease. Every little preventive effort counts, as little as washing hands, wearing masks and disinfecting the shared surfaces, including your fingerprint scanners.
Why cleaning and fingerprint scanner disinfection is important?
Regular cleaning of the fingerprint scanner and sensor surface is already a good practice advised by biometric device manufacturers. We have already covered fingerprint scanner cleaning tips on how to clean sensor surface here. However, amid Covid 19 pandemic situation, fingerprint scanner cleaning should also involve fingerprint scanner disinfection process. It becomes more important to disinfect the sensor surface if it is used and shared by many individuals.
Performing regular disinfection on the shared surfaces can help you prevent spreading coronavirus. Fingerprint scanner disinfection along with other preventive measures can become a powerful tool that will not only protect you but also avoid spreading Covid 19.
Even in normal circumstance, cleaning the fingerprint sensor is always a good idea. Cleaning fingerprint sensor saves it from the accumulation of dust and dirt, which may damage the sensor surface and hampers the performance of the device.
When finger is placed on the senor surface,slight friction between the finger and the sensor glass takes place. If there is dust or dirt on the sensor surface, rubbing of these contaminants against the sensor surface will leave scratches on it. Though scratches may be minor initially, they will turn into the deeper grooves with repetitive use and render the scanner unusable at some point of time.
Cleaning along with disinfection will bring dual benefits to your fingerprint scanner – It will help ensure its longevity as well as avoid coronavirus spread.
Fingerprint scanner disinfection: how to clean sensor surface?
Cleaning and performing fingerprint scanner disinfection is not a rocket science, however, you need to take care of a few things that will save your device from potential damages during the process.
Choosing right chemical
If you search through the internet, you will see a flood of information on how you can disinfect almost everything. These online guides advise disinfectants such as Lysol, Hydrogen Peroxide, Alcohol, Sodium Hypochlorite, etc. to disinfect different surfaces.
Our point is not to prove that they are not good. They may be good, however, the problem is they cannot be applied on all surfaces equally, specially when the surface you are planning to disinfect is delicate.
Say no to harsh chemicals
Use of harsh chemicals such as industry solvents to perform fingerprint scanner disinfection can damage the sensor surface. Your sensor surface may have special coating over the glass, which may also get damaged if harsh chemicals are used to clean the sensor surface.Damaging sensor surface will leave your biometric device unusable.
Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) in right concentration can not only make your fingerprint scanner visibly clean but can also disinfect it at the same time. Isopropyl alcohol is also known as isopropanol, 2-propanol, clinical spirit or simply rubbing alcohol. It is the same solution that your doctor applies on your skin before giving you a shot. It not only cleans the skin but also disinfect it by killing infectious microbes such as bacteria, viruses, etc. It is also the same chemical that is used in hand sanitizers, using which is one of the preventive measures to prevent spreading coronavirus.
Isopropyl alcohol (IPA) with at least 70% v/v concentration can do the job of a cleaning solution as well as a disinfectant. If you do not have IPA, Ethyl Alcohol or Ethanol can also be used alternatively with same concentration (70% v/v). Both the solutions are inexpensive and easily available. They evaporate quickly without damaging the sensor surface.
Protect yourself: wear gloves and face mask
Fingerprint scanner disinfection is unlike regular cleaning for maintenance purposes. If done incorrectly, it may expose you to coronavirus infection, if the sensor surface has been touched by an infectious person. It is highly important to wear gloves when you perform fingerprint scanner disinfection. You can use disposable surgical gloves or reusable gloves made of latex. If they are reusable, it is also important to disinfect them after performing the fingerprint scanner disinfection. Do not use gloves made of cloth, wool, or similar breathable material. If you do not have latex gloves, disposable polyethylene gloves will also do.
Wearing mask is also equally important, it will save you from coronavirus that may get airborne during the cleaning process. It can be a 3-ply surgical grade mask or a higher quality mask such as N95 respirators. If you do not have a mask, wrap a reasonably thick cotton scarf around your nose and mouth.
Do not touch your face
Do not touch your face during the fingerprint scanner disinfection and cleaning process. It is one of the easiest ways to get infected.
Disconnect the power source
Disconnect your device from the power source. It will save it from damaging electronic components and also secure it from potential damages if things do not go as planned.
If your fingerprint scanner has not been cleaned for a while and has accumulated dust, use an air blower to get rid of it. Wearing a mask along with gloves during the process will not only protect you from dust particles but also from infectious microbes. If you do not have an air blower, amicro fiber cleaning cloth can be used alternatively, however pay special attention while cleaning the dust from the sensor surface. Do not apply pressure or rub the sensor surface while removing dust from the sensor surface else it may leave scratches on it.
Deep clean and disinfect
Now comes the most important part, deep cleaning and performing fingerprint scanner disinfection. It should involve two steps: disinfecting the housing and disinfecting the sensor surface.
Deep clean and disinfect the scanner housing
Clean the fingerprint equipment housing first. To do this, take a clean, soft and lint-free piece of cotton cloth (DO NOT use paper or tissue) and moisten it with isopropyl alcohol. Cotton will catch the fine dust and dirt as you clean the housing. If it is a large fingerprint equipment (such as large access control / time and attendance systems),clean and disinfect the entire front panel including keypad and the LCD screen. Repeat the process with a fresh piece of cloth; it will kill the remaining microbes on the surface, if any.
Since we are using alcohol to clean the fingerprint scanner, it will disinfect it along the process. Repeating the process twice / thrice will make sure that there are no remaining germs on the surface.
Deep clean and disinfect the sensor surface
Once you are done cleaning and disinfecting the scanner housing, take a fresh piece of clean, soft, lint-free cotton cloth. Moisten it with isopropyl alcohol and dab it on the sensor surface (Do not wipe) very gently. Repeat the process twice / thrice with a fresh piece of cloth each time. If there is any residual solution, pick it by dabbing a fresh dry cloth without applying any pressure.
And we are done! Your fingerprint scanner is clean and disinfected. Now you can reconnect your device and it should be ready to use.
The cleaning / disinfection process explained above should not take more than a minute and should be mandatorily repeated after processing each individual.
A few things to take care of while you clean and disinfect your biometric device
Fingerprint scanner cleaning tips explained above can also be applied on other delicate surfaces, suspected to be contaminated owing to the shared usage.
Anyone, even the healthy individuals, can unintentionally contribute to spread Covid 19 if preventive measures are not taken. A simple sneeze, handshake or even a touch can have you infected provided the virus finds its way to your respiratory system. Around the world, there are millions of infected individuals who do not know how they got infected.
As long as Covid 19 pandemic lasts, fingerprint scanner disinfection is more of a social responsibility than a maintenance responsibility.
Fingerprint scanner disinfection is a small but important man oeuvre to avoid coronavirus spread in organizational setups.However, it will only work if used along with other preventive practices, which are equally or more important. For an instance, if you have been performing fingerprint scanner disinfection but not taking other precautions such as social distancing, washing hands and wearing masks, fingerprint scanner cleaning alone will not help.
Can fingerprint scanner disinfection prevent coronavirus spread?
There is no single countermeasure to prevent the spread of coronavirus or avoid spreading Covid 19. It requires taking up the best practices to avoid the infection. Coronavirus mainly spreads via air droplets, touching contaminated surfaces or coming in contact with an infected individual. Fingerprint scanner disinfection alone will not ensure safety against the disease; however, it can be an important bit towards it. Fingerprint reader disinfection can be crucial in services and facilities where fingerprint scanning is an important part in the operations. Services and facilities, in which fingerprint scan can be avoided without disrupting the operations, should consider the possibility until the pandemic lasts.