A professional cleaner’s job is to keep a facility and its occupants healthy, and an effective cleaning and disinfecting program helps accomplish that. However, we need to clean and disinfect sensibly.
As we analyze the steps taken by the professional cleaning industry to address the pandemic, one of the issues coming to light is the overuse of disinfectants. Known as indiscriminate disinfecting, disinfectants were used just about anywhere and everywhere. This can be harmful to the cleaner, building users, and the environment.
To create a sensible cleaning and disinfecting program, we need to answer the following questions:
1. What Cleaning and Disinfecting Tools Are Available?
For the most part, cleaning can be performed using almost any professional-grade cleaning solution. And when it comes to disinfecting, we also have a wide variety of options.
Methods of Disinfection:
- Electrostatic sprayers and foggers
- Ultraviolet (UV-C) light systems
- Hydrogen peroxide, isopropyl alcohol, and hypochlorous acid – all considered safer disinfecting alternatives
- EPA-registered disinfectants, including N-List disinfectants
- Natural disinfectants (often made from plant-based materials and primarily used in residential cleaning)
2. Do We Need to Use Disinfectants?
This is an excellent question and should be asked before developing a cleaning and disinfecting program. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states in most cases, “cleaning with an effective detergent is all that is needed to […] maintain a healthy facility.” This is because proper cleaning removes most soils and contaminants from a surface. Disinfectants should be used only when needed to eliminate (kill) any remaining contaminants or pathogens on a surface.
3. How Do We Determine if Disinfectants Are Necessary?
To determine this requires a cleaning and disinfecting audit. For example, when building owners are looking for ways to reduce water consumption, one of the first things they do is conduct a water audit. They tour the facility, looking for wherever water is being used, where water-saving fixtures or devices could be installed, where water is unnecessarily being used, and where leaks are evident. While there are no average savings, most building owners and managers report that water consumption is reduced considerably after completing a water audit.
In the same way, we may reduce the number of disinfectants used in a facility by conducting a cleaning and disinfecting audit. This is key to a sensible cleaning and disinfecting program and involves a walk-through looking for these three types of areas:
High-Touch or High-Risk Areas
Building users touch these areas frequently throughout the day; thus, they are highly likely to become contaminated. Office kitchens and restrooms are perfect examples, as are commonly used conference rooms. Cleaning and disinfecting are necessary for these areas and may even need to be performed several times throughout the day.
These areas will not need to be cleaned as often and may not need to be disinfected at all. Storage and mechanical rooms are perfect examples.
Moderate Touch/Moderate Use Areas
These areas typically pose negligible health risks to building users. This could include rarely used conference or meeting rooms or classrooms. In commercial cleaning, these areas are usually cleaned before/after use or as needed but seldom disinfected.
Implementing a Sensible Cleaning and Disinfecting Program
With our disinfecting audit completed, we can now begin implementing a sensible cleaning and disinfecting program that helps minimize the overuse of disinfectants. This will not only improve the health of a building but also increase worker productivity. If certain areas do not need to be cleaned or cleaned and disinfected, crews can devote more time to those areas that do require more frequent cleaning and disinfecting.
Cleaning and Disinfecting and High-Flow Fluid Extraction
Finally, a sensible cleaning and disinfecting program help crews determine what cleaning tools and equipment should be used. For instance, Kaivac recommends their N-List disinfectant KaiBosh be used when cleaning and disinfecting with Kaivac cleaning systems.
High-Flow Fluid Extraction (HFFE), which is the basis of all Kaivac No-Touch Cleaning® systems, can effectively remove contaminants and pathogens without disinfectants. Cleaning with HFFE helps ensure surfaces stay cleaner, healthier, and safer for building users—which is genuinely sensible cleaning and disinfecting.