My company cleaned several daycare centers. Most were large with small toilets designed specifically for kindergarten-age children. The only way we knew at the time to clean the toilets was using traditional methods—on hands and knees, scrubbing bowls, and wiping surfaces with sprayers and cloths.
Late one Friday, I developed a headache that worsened by the hour. By Sunday, I was forced to go to the emergency room with a very high temperature. After more than two hours of tests, the doctor concluded I had hepatitis A and was bedridden for almost two months.
Health Risks and Daycare Centers
The hepatitis A virus is spread when infected people fail to wash their hands properly after using the restroom and then touch door knobs,toilet handles, faucets, ledges, light switches, etc., which are later touched by someone else.
While ill, I found out that one of the groups most likely to get hepatitis A are preschool children attending daycare centers and the staff or workers in daycare centers. Further, the disease and similar health risks are actually common in certain service sectors, such as housekeeping, janitorial, food service, and hotel/hospital linen.
In order to minimize these health risks, protect ourselves especially when cleaning restrooms, cleaning workers should do the following:
• Wear puncture-resistant gloves and change gloves after cleaning each restroom.
• Avoid touching surfaces, such as door knobs, ledges, fixtures, and light switches,with soiled hands or gloves.
• When using disinfectants, pay attention to "dwell time" requirements. Most disinfectants require three to 10 minutes of dwell time to be effective.
• Place all soiled cleaning materials and gloves in a leak-proof plastic bag for cleaning or disposal following local health code regulations.
• After removing gloves, wash hands thoroughly with warm water and soap for at least 10 seconds.
Health Risks, "Touching," and the Cleaning Process
Cleaning workers can also minimize the health risk of cleaning by not touching restroom fixtures, floors, and counters at all. This is how Jonathan St. Dierre, a cleaning contractor in Canada, performs restroom cleaning, including in daycare centers. "We use a no-touch cleaning system that has proved to be healthier, faster, and more thorough," he says.
With the no-touch system, St. Dierre first fills the machine with water. Using the chemical injection system, the water mixes with automatically proportioned disinfectant, which is then sprayed over all surfaces—floors, fixtures, and counters.
After the appropriate dwell time, the machine blast-cleans all surfaces using fresh water. "This is really like detail cleaning every time. Grime is washed away without ever touching surfaces," he says. The machine's built-in wet/dry vacuum recovers all excess solution, completely removing soil and bacteria.
Our Health Starts with Us
I wish I had learned about no-touch cleaning years ago. But, I learned my lesson the hard way. Now I know, always wear protective gear to avoid touching surfaces that may contain germs or bacteria. And, touching is out—use a no-touch cleaning system. It's more effective, helps eliminate health risks, helping to protect the cleaning professional.
At Kaivac, your health is our concern. More information on protecting your health and no-touch cleaning are available here.
Robert Kravitz is a former building service contractor, having owned, operated, and then sold three contract cleaning companies in Northern California.
He is the author of two books about the industry and continues to be a frequent writer for the industry.
Robert is now president of AlturaSolutions Communications, which provides communications and marketing services for organizations in the professional cleaning and building industries.