Many organizations will be re-opening to the public soon. Some will be welcoming customers, while others will be welcoming staff, visitors and contractors. Due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), many precautions will be recommended or required. What are the best coronavirus cleaning practices when reopening to the public?
The CDC recommends having a building deep cleaned and sanitized before re-opening or when suspecting a COVID-19 infection. Janitorial companies and biohazard remediation companies have different interpretations of deep cleaning methods. Janitorial companies attempt to remove the dirt from surfaces, while biohazard remediation companies remove the biofilm from the surfaces. When hiring a company to deep clean, request that they follow the following procedures.
Require that the company performing the work track and record their employee’s temperature at least a week, or more, prior to the work. Most professional companies should be doing this anyway. If offered in their area, request that the technicians performing the work complete an antibody test. Although the tests are not currently FDA-approved, the testing itself can show that the company performing the work is doing its due diligence prior to entering your building. Each technician entering the building should be wearing a surgical mask, N-95 disposable mask, or respirator while they are in the building. If the technicians are asymptomatic carriers, the mask will greatly inhibit their ability to spread the virus. If they have not been exposed to the virus, the mask will help prevent the cleaning technician from catching it.
Set up air scrubbers in the rooms having the work performed prior to starting the work. The CDC claims the virus can become airborne and the pre-cleaning work can cause a virus on a flat surface to become airborne, even if temporarily. The air scrubbers can increase the chance that the airborne virus will be captured.
Wear disposable gloves through the duration of the cleaning. However, change them often. Most cleaners can re-contaminate areas that have been properly cleaned by not routinely changing disposable gloves. Technicians should also be encouraged to wear bio-suits and goggles while performing work so airborne particles do not adhere to the technician’s clothing or get in the technician’s eyes. A bottom layer of disposable gloves can be taped to the bio-suit using duct tape to prevent particles from entering the suit. However, most companies will fold 2 small pieces of tape together on one end to make it easier to remove the tape and gloves when the job is complete. A second pair of gloves can be worn over the bottom gloves, and if they get contaminated or ripped, they can be easily changed. Disposable booties should be worn over the booties built into the suit and thrown away when they rip or become too contaminated.
To start the cleaning process, take square sized paper towels and fold in half, then fold it in half again. Dip the paper towels in a bucket of warm water and soapy water wipe a surface (approximately 2’ by 2’) with one section of the wet paper towel. The pores in the paper towels will fill quickly, so after completing a small section, use the other wet, unused sections to clean additional surfaces. When the paper towels have been fully used, place them in a trash bag to remove from the property. You may need to use a surface cleaner or degreaser on extremely dirty surfaces. Microfiber rags can also be used, but need to be discarded as well, so the costs of the jobs may be more expensive.
Once the deep cleaning has been completed, cleaning companies can apply an EPA-registered disinfect to the surfaces that have been cleaned. Some companies will use trigger sprayers or pump sprayers to apply the disinfectant. ULV fogging is a popular method of applying disinfectant, but there are many limitations to fogging, including if a disinfectant can be fogged and observing proper dwell time for the disinfectant. A few companies are using electrostatic sprayers, which charge the disinfectant particles before they leave the sprayer. The particles are more likely to adhere to a surface and generally give better coverage to a surface. Most electric sprayers will require an extension cord.
After the deep cleaning and sanitizing or disinfecting is complete, most janitorial companies will pack up and leave the job without proving any evidence of what work was completed. Biohazard remediation companies and/or restoration companies routinely use ATP meters to pre- and post-test high-touch areas. The meters will show the amount of organic material in a specific area. Testing a high-touch area before and after disinfecting will show the effectiveness of the disinfection. Since the CDC doesn’t suggest testing in their protocols, most companies leave out this step, as ATP meters generally cost $1500 or more and testing strips are generally sold in packs of 100 and can cost $250 – $500 per pack and are generally only good for about a year. After the testing is complete, most companies will take digital pictures of the screen to provide to their customers as evidence that the deep cleaning and sanitizing was effective.
There is a major difference between simply fogging a building, deep cleaning and sanitizing a building, and proving the results of a cleaning. Make sure you understand the difference between each of these and question any company that is bidding these services thoroughly before re-opening your building to your employees, customers, or vendors.
For coronavirus cleaning services in Columbia, SC, contact Palmetto Commercial Services at (803) 479-0812 or https://www.palmettocommercialservices.com/coronavirus-cleaning-sc/.