Here are the 3 Best Practices for ‘Cleaning for Health’
How to clean in an effective way and show your company's commitment to health post-pandemic
While the pandemic has created challenges and struggles for lots of people, one of the bright sides is that the Jan-San industry, and the heroic frontline workers it employs, are now the main characters. Cleaning pros often worked "behind the scenes" of commercial facilities, completing repetitive, labor-intensive tasks to maintain cleanliness. Now, our clients are much more conscious of the important part that custodians and facility managers play in keeping safe the public’s health.
Cleaning for appearance is not enough anymore. Nowadays people understand that a surface can look and smell clean but still can be thriving with harmful pathogens. Facilities must adopt a “cleaning for health” approach to restore confidence, mantain their brand reputation, and minimize the spread of dangerous diseases.
A complete twist to protect the public
Traditionally, consumers would judge cleanliness based on what they see and smell. A lingering lemon or lavender scent in a public restroom and streak- and dirt-free floors would signal that a facility prioritizes cleanliness. This is typically where the scrutiny ended. While it’s true that cleanliness doesn’t have a fragrance, most people do rely on their sense of smell to form their perceptions. And while germs were a concern, they took on an entirely new meaning with SARS-CoV-2.
The sudden apparition of this deadly and infectious virus has redefined cleaning methods. Surfaces and spaces looking clean is not enough at all. They must be sanitized much more than what the naked eye can see. Now the public expects facilities to take every precaution to keep tidiness and cleanliness so it can limit the virus’s spread from different surfaces to people.
Thus, regular and thorough cleaning is a must, but facilities need to use the latest of their technologies and products to improve cleaning performance and show to the people they take cleaning in a very serious way.
A commitment to cleanliness
While cleaning for health does maintain a facility’s image, it goes a step further to thoroughly remove bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Consider the following best practices for successfully cleaning for health and highlighting an organization’s commitment to its employees, building visitors, and customers.
Closely review cleaning solutions—The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released List N to give facility managers and consumers a clear guide on disinfectants that are approved for use against SARS-CoV-2. From ready-to-use disinfectant sprays to wipes, many options are available on the list, which users can filter by type of environment, surface, and contact time.
It’s important to remember that not every effective solution is included on this list. Just because a disinfectant isn’t listed, doesn’t mean it’s not well-suited for a cleaning program. There are other third-party testing options, such as independent Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) laboratories, that provide alternatives for finding suitable chemicals. For example, electrochemically activated solutions (ECAS) are cleaning and disinfecting products made from water, salt, and electricity. Because they are generated by a system, they do not fall into the EPA’s List N of ready-to-use (RTU) products. If an organization is set on safer and more sustainable cleaning, the facility manager can check with the building service contractor to see if the on-site generation system has been vetted by the EPA.
Facility managers should also vet cleaning products for potentially caustic or problematic ingredients. With staff cleaning more frequently, they are exposed to more risks. Reducing chemical hazards in the workplace is an easy way to protect employees.
Train (and retrain) employees—Remember that not only are custodians and cleaning professionals taking on more rigorous cleaning during the pandemic, but so are employees who have not traditionally handled using disinfectants and cleaning equipment. Cleaning roles often experience high turnover rates, as do many foodservice, and retail positions. Essential workers are also experiencing unprecedented levels of stress. Clear and consistent training is key. Certification and accreditation are other avenues organizations may explore.
Educate employees about the various cleaning products, equipment, tools, and technologies the facility has implemented to clean for health. Offer hands-on practice with electrostatic sprayers, dispensing equipment, floor care machines, and even chemicals to make sure employees are following the two-step process of cleaning first and disinfecting second. Develop visual guides, conduct classroom training with takeaway resources, and continue to reinforce best practices with verbal reminders and compliments.
Bring cleaning to the forefront—Places like airports, schools, and grocery and retail stores are welcoming guests, students, and staff. To increase confidence and peace of mind, set a cleaning schedule that enables employees to clean while visitors and occupants are in the building. This is one of the easiest ways to prove that an organization is dedicated to protecting public health. When people can see the process, they trust that the facility is taking the necessary steps to prevent infectious outbreaks.