Covid-19 cleaning procedures

What is the Covid-19 Virus?

Before talking about the responsibilities of our cleaners, it is important to clarify what this virus is. Covid-19 is a human-transferable virus. It typically spreads via droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. The droplets carry viral particles that can land on the faces of others or be inhaled. It is estimated that an infected person can infect another 400 people within 30 days, if they behave as usual.

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How long will Covid-19 survive on inanimate surfaces?

The length of time that Covid-19 survives on inanimate surfaces will vary depending on factors such as the ambient temperature and humidity, and the amount of contaminated body fluid, such as respiratory droplets. In general, the Covid-19 virus is unlikely to survive once the droplets produced by coughing or sneezing have dried. The following survival times have been found by researchers:

  • In air – 3 hours
  • Paper tissues – 3 hours
  • Copper – 4 hours
  • Cardboard – 24 hours
  • Wood – 2 days
  • Cloth – 2 days
  • Stainless steel – 2-3 days
  • Polypropylene plastic – 3 days
  • Glass – 4 days
  • Paper money – 4 days
  • External area of a surgical mask – 7 days

You will find almost all of the above surfaces and items in your office. As a result, the entire cleaning industry has now changed. The traditional cleaning to “make the office environment tidy” has now changed to “make the office environment healthy”. This increases the need for cleaners to be aware of cleaning procedures required to mitigate the risk.

What are the high-risk areas in a typical office?

The simple answer is, “everything”. However, the tables, chairs, floors, toilets, kitchen sinks and appliances, handrails on staircases, light switches and door handles carry a significant risk, compared to other areas of a typical office.

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What are the responsibilities of the cleaners?

Educating clients

Amongst other responsibilities, educating clients about the risk and possible risk mitigating cleaning procedures is a top priority for a professional cleaning company. This applies to existing clients and also to new clients that come on board in future.

Designing and implementing additional cleaning procedures

Cleaning service providers need to understand the difference between traditional cleaning techniques and new cleaning procedures, to address prevailing health risks. Cleaning procedures need to be primarily focused on mitigating the risk of the Covid-19 virus, and this will essentially produce a tidy environment as well. Identifying high-risk areas in the office environment will play a vital role in developing a comprehensive additional cleaning plan.

What are the ideal cleaning procedures to mitigate Covid-19 risk?

The cleaning procedures will vary depending on the environment of your office/warehouse. Below are some examples of procedures to mitigate the risk of infection, but not an exclusive list of procedures.

  • Thorough disinfection of toilets: This includes seats, lids, under commodes, inside commodes, sinks, floors, urinals, paper towel dispensers, hand dryers, patronal walls, light switches, etc.
  • Staircase handrails: This is a high-risk area, as COVID-19 can live for 2-3 days on stainless steel surfaces. An appropriate hospital-grade cleaning detergent must be used to regularly wipe handrails.
  • Door handles and light switches: This is another high-risk area that should be heavily focused on. Cleaning service providers should wipe these areas on a regular basis with an appropriate cleaning detergent.
  • Floors: Research has revealed that floors can easily facilitate the transmission of COVID-19. The main reason for this is that the virus can remain alive on floors for a considerable time. Cleaning service providers should thoroughly mop floors using an appropriate cleaning detergent.
  • Kitchen: It is very important to frequently wipe microwaves, internally and externally. Kitchen bins should have liners at all times, and the outside of bins should be cleaned properly using an appropriate cleaning detergent. Other appliances, such as toasters, should also be wiped down regularly. One another important cleaning procedure is wiping door handles and the external surfaces of refrigerators.
  • Tables, chairs, door handles, light switches, window ledges: These are areas that many people touch frequently. As a result, regular and thorough wiping, using an appropriate, cleaning detergent, is a must.

In addition, the cleaning company should advise the client to use a suitable alcohol-based hand sanitiser. It is suggested that an automatic hand sanitiser be used to minimize touching.

Demonstrating honesty

A professional cleaning company will not take advantage of the current situation. We have noticed that some cleaning companies are attempting to overcharge clients for COVID-19 mitigation cleaning. A professional cleaning company will not do this, but will help their clients to get through this difficult period, and not take advantage of the current situation. Cleaning charges should be fair and reasonable, and more importantly, the amount charged should provide appropriate value to clients.

What are the best products for cleaning and disinfecting?

When cleaning it is best to use detergent and warm water. This will break down grease and grime so that the surface can be wiped clean. Anything labelled as a detergent will work. Disinfectants should only be used once the surface is fully cleaned.

Disinfectants that contain greater than or equal to 70 % alcohol, quaternary ammonium compounds, chlorine bleach or oxygen bleach are suitable for use on hard surfaces (that is, surfaces where any spilt liquid pools and does not soak in). These will be labelled as ‘disinfectant’ on the packaging.

If using a store-bought disinfectant, choose one that has antiviral activity, meaning it can kill viruses. This should be written on its label. Alternately, diluted bleach can be used. If using freshly made bleach solution, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for appropriate dilution and use. It will only be effective when diluted to the appropriate concentration. Note that prediluted bleach solutions lose effectiveness over time and on exposure to sunlight.

References:

  1. https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/
  2. https://govcms.gov.au/
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html
  4. https://www.health.gov.au/
  5. https://www.osha.gov/
  6. https://www.epa.gov/
  7. https://www.cdc.gov/
  8. https://www.osha.gov/
  9. https://www.who.int/
  10. https://www.issa.com/
  11. https://www.businessinsider.com.au/
  12. https://www.health.gov.au/