Disinfection Procedures to Avoid Disinfecting Disasters
In the days before COVID-19, there was nothing unusual about commercial offices and homes hiring cleaning services to come in on a regular basis to perform high-level cleaning. Janitorial services would run a spot vacuum, focusing only on high-traffic or highly visible areas, empty trash cans, and maybe wipe down bathrooms.
That kind of maintenance is very important to the health and cleanliness of a facility, but cleaning is just one part of what facilities need to do now for the wellbeing of anyone who spends any amount of time there. Facilities need much more than to be clean to the naked eye. They need to be disinfected and there’s a big difference between cleaning and disinfecting.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to rethink what cleaning vs. disinfecting really means. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines cleaning as:
“The removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.”
Disinfecting, on the other hand, is defined by the CDC as: “using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.”
For the last year, many offices and workplaces have remained largely empty while employees worked from home. Less cleaning was required because the spaces weren’t being utilized. But as the pandemic begins to ease, businesses have begun to welcome employees back to the office, and the public is beginning to return to in-person activities. To ensure that everyone, from staff to the public, remains safe and healthy, the CDC offers extensive guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes.
Here are 5 things you definitely don’t want to do when disinfecting your facilities.
1. Don’t forget to read disinfecting chemical labels.
Normal soap and water can be used for routine cleaning of surfaces and objects, but it is important to frequently use disinfectants on high-touch surfaces to further reduce the risk of the coronavirus. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a list of approved disinfectants it recommends for commercial use, and it is very important to read the label of any disinfecting chemical you use. Be sure to read all the warnings and any other precautionary statements. The instructions are written for the safest, most effective use of the product and should be used properly, as the manufacturer intended.
2. Don’t mix or over-dilute disinfecting chemicals.
Mixing chemicals is a bad idea in any situation. Mixing different disinfectant products, or mixing products with household bleach can cause dangerous vapors that are toxic to inhale. If you run out of one product while you’re preparing to treat an area, do not add another product.
If a product’s directions call for you to add water, add the exact amount of water recommended to ensure that the solution is strong enough to do its job and disinfect surfaces of all germs and other pathogens. A solution that is over-diluted will not protect anyone from germs. Also, be sure to wear gloves to prevent chemical burns and eye protection to avoid accidental splashing into your eyes, and that the space you’re disinfecting in is well-ventilated to avoid a build-up of fumes.
3. Don’t treat all surfaces – and don’t treat them all the same.
Surfaces that are touched frequently throughout the day, such as elevator buttons, door handles, reception desks or seats, toys, or fitness equipment, will need to be disinfected more often. Surfaces like floors, windows, or walls, will still need to be disinfected as they are exposed to the air droplets produced by people as they come and go throughout the day, but they may not need to be disinfected as often since people are generally not coming into direct contact with them.
Similarly, hard surfaces should be treated differently than fabric surfaces, like cubicle walls or office chairs, drapes, and carpets. The CDC’s recommendations for soft and porous surfaces cleaning or laundering with products that are approved for soft surfaces, and disinfecting with a product approved by the EPA for porous surfaces.
It is especially important as employees start to return, to maintain a program with any carpeting, as air droplets can settle into the porous fibers. A carpet that is already cleaned on a regular basis will be easier to disinfect. The frequency with which carpets are cleaned should be based on the level of activity. Carpet cleaning on a quarterly basis is a good place to start, but should be re-evaluated as more employees and the public return to public spaces.
4. Don’t disinfect too infrequently.
Especially while COVID-19 remains in the community, it is important to disinfect high-touch surfaces often, particularly while spaces are actively in use by lots of people from different households. The CDC recommends developing a plan for regularly disinfecting a facility. Evaluate what surfaces need to be disinfected, what will need it more frequently, what supplies you’ll need and in what quantity in order to maintain effective disinfection, and a guide of disinfecting procedures. Consider rearranging furniture, equipment and the layout of the space to minimize what will need to be disinfected regularly. Most importantly, develop a cleaning and disinfection schedule, and make sure that staff are properly trained to make up disinfecting solution and how to use supplies.
5. Don’t forget to disinfect your disinfecting equipment
With a plan in place, you’ll get an idea of what equipment you need to perform regular disinfecting protocols. Gloves, goggles, spray bottles, buckets, sponges, rags, mops, PPE are just a few of the possibilities when it comes to regular facility disinfection. It is important that any tools or equipment that will be reused for disinfection should also be disinfected between uses.
These tips can help get you started and develop a program to ensure that your facility is being disinfected on a regular basis. But cleaning before disinfection, using a professional commercial cleaning service like Zerorez® can take some of the stress out of ensuring that your buildings are being properly cared for. Zerorez® has a patented cleaning process for many services as well as a process for disinfecting that’s got a patent pending. We’ve made cleaning and disinfecting processes into a science that we’ve trained each Zerorez® employee to follow.
We also recommend creating a process for cleaning and disinfecting your business, office or home. The more eyes you have looking at what you need to keep your facility safe for everyone, the better. A regular maintenance program is healthier for everyone and will extend the life of your carpeting. You can set up a cleaning and disinfection schedule with us to clean your carpets and the fabric on cubicle walls at least every 3 months. With a facility that’s being cleaned regularly, you can focus on disinfecting, and ensuring that your staff and customers are safe.
We invite you to connect with Zerorez® DC on Facebook to share your comments, see us in action, and send us a message! We can also be found on LinkedIn for business and commercial accounts – and get all our great cleaning tips on our blog, The Residue Chronicles!
Locally owned and operated Zerorez® DC and Fredericksburg – “The Right Way To Clean” in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area, Stafford County (including Fredericksburg, Garrisonville, Berea, and North Stafford), Maryland (including Oxon Hill, Columbia, and Gaithersburg) and the Northern Virginia Region (including Burke, Manassas, Fairfax, and Ashburn) since 2015.