Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility: Your Complete Guide

By: Hayden Bodiford
October 18, 2022

Keeping your facility clean isn’t just about appearances. Throughout the day, viruses and bacteria land on every type of surface. Fortunately, regular hand washing with soap and warm water–alongside cleaning and disinfecting–minimizes the chances that illnesses will spread throughout your facility. However, stringent guidelines must be followed.

Using tracer viruses, researchers have found that contamination of just a single doorknob can spread a virus throughout a facility. The research also showed that within two to four hours, the tracer virus could be detected on 40 to 60 percent of workers, visitors, and commonly touched objects in the facility!

To help ensure the best cleaning practices, read on for your complete guide on cleaning and disinfecting your facility. To supplement your cleaning routine, also consider working with a commercial cleaning company. At 360clean, we clean more than one million square feet of healthcare facility space every night, and our teams abide by industry best practices for cleaning in the healthcare niche. To learn more about our services, contact us today for a free quote!

Cleaning and Disinfecting

Products containing soap or detergent are the best for reducing surface-contracted illnesses. That’s because the soap destroys the contaminants that allow viruses to spread. With COVID-19 specifically, you should only need to clean your facility once a day, provided no one infected with the virus has been in the area.

Once the initial cleaning has been completed, it’s time to disinfect. This process can be carried out using any of the List N disinfectants recommended by the EPA. These products contain chemicals designed to eliminate additional germs that could be lingering on surfaces. However, the CDC cautions against mixing any of these chemicals.

While most authorities recommend that you clean and disinfect your facility once per day, you may want to consider cleaning and disinfecting more frequently if any of the following are true:

  • Your facility lacks adequate ventilation
  • Certain areas are high traffic
  • You have employees who are at high risk of contracting COVID-19
  • You do not have immediate access to hand sanitizer or a lavatory with soap
  • Certain areas have high-touch surfaces

Additionally, if anyone in your facility has tested positive for or is suspected of having COVID-19, you should clean and disinfect any space they occupied or were in close contact with.

Routine Cleaning

Routine cleaning might seem overwhelming at first, but the benefits far outweigh the detriments. Here are some tips on how to get started.

Creating a Plan

The first step of any solid cleaning routine is to make a list of everything that needs to be cleaned and then determine how you are going to clean it.

Helpful questions to ask yourself include these: What types of surfaces are you cleaning? How many people come into contact with these surfaces? Are there any areas that should have priority over others?

Once you have determined what areas need attention, prioritize cleaning the areas with the highest traffic at least once per day. If your facility and workforce meet any of the conditions listed above, you may want to clean and disinfect several times a day.

One way to save yourself a step is to use a cleaning product that also contains disinfectants.

Getting to Work

Once you know what needs to be cleaned and how you are going to clean it, it’s time to get to work. In addition to high-traffic areas, you want to make sure to clean and disinfect all high-touch surfaces, regardless of where they are in the facility.

The CDC offers the following examples of high-touch surfaces:

  • Desks
  • Light switches
  • Doorknobs
  • Handles
  • Tables
  • Counters
  • Toilets
  • Sinks
  • Faucets
  • Pens and pencils
  • Keyboards
  • Phones
  • Communal buttons

Keep in mind that a high-touch surface could be unique to your facility. If you are having trouble determining whether a surface is high-touch or not, ask yourself how many different people come into contact with it throughout the day.

About Soft Surfaces

There’s a good chance your facility contains a variety of soft surfaces, including rugs, carpets, and drapes. Cleaning these surfaces requires a compatible soap or detergent. If you have to wash these items, make sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

Wear Proper Protection and Exercise Caution

When engaging in routine cleaning, all cleaning staff must wear appropriate protection and understand how to properly use the cleaning and disinfecting products at their disposal. Always read and adhere to the safety instructions printed on each product’s label. If the product mandates personal protective equipment (PPE), make sure you have it on hand.

Recommended PPE might include the following: 

  • Gloves
  • Goggles or safety glasses
  • Ventilation
  • Masks

The type of PPE required could change depending on the nature of the surface and the chemicals used. Product labels will usually inform you of what is required, so make sure to gather the appropriate PPE when you are making your initial cleaning plan.

Wash Your Hands

After you finish cleaning, the CDC recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds using soap and water. If you are wearing gloves, wash your hands as soon as you remove them. If you do not have immediate access to soap and water, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer should do the trick, provided it contains at least 60% alcohol. However, if you use sanitizer in place of soap and water, wash with soap and water as soon as you can.

Alternative Methods to Cleaning & Disinfecting

If you know a thing or two about cleaning and disinfecting, you are probably aware of alternative disinfection methods. These include LED blue light, high-intensity UV radiation, ultrasonic waves, and other advanced technology.

While these methods may be useful in combating the spread of illness, the CDC has not established their effectiveness in preventing COVID-19 infections.

Additional disinfecting methods include fumigation, fogging, and electrostatic spraying. These methods carry safety risks and are not recommended unless the cleaning product you are using requires it. It’s better to hire professional cleaning services for these tasks.

Cleaning Outdoor Areas

If your facility has a shared outdoor area where employees and personnel congregate, you should also develop a cleaning plan for that space.

However, the CDC does not recommend using cleaning or disinfecting sprays in outdoor areas, including on sidewalks, concrete patios, and roads. These products could potentially affect outdoor ecosystems and have unintended effects on the environment.

When cleaning outside, focus on high-touch plastic and metal surfaces. These include railings and playground equipment, which should be cleaned several times per week. The CDC cautions against cleaning and disinfecting wooden surfaces.

Cleaning Electronics

Extra precautions must be taken when cleaning electronic devices, as they are more volatile and expensive than other items. These devices might include the following:

  • Cell phones
  • Tablets
  • Touch screens
  • Keyboards
  • Remote controls

Adhere to the manufacturer’s instructions when cleaning each device. Certain products require more care than others. If you need to disinfect any electronics, check the EPA’s List N for a product that adheres to the manufacturer’s requirements.

When Someone Is Sick

If someone in your facility has tested positive for COVID-19, you will want to clean and disinfect every spot they occupied. If their job involves close contact throughout the facility, you will likely need to clean and disinfect the entire building.

Before cleaning, make sure to close any areas that the sick person spent time in. These areas should remain closed until the disinfection process has concluded. After you close off the areas, wait several hours before you begin cleaning.

During the cleaning and disinfecting process, make sure the area you are cleaning has adequate ventilation. You do not want to inadvertently inhale any of the chemicals you are using. Start with the areas the sick person came into close contact with, as these are likely the most volatile.

If the area needs to be vacuumed, the CDC recommends a device equipped with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. If the room being vacuumed contains any on-wall or window-mounted HVAC systems, make sure to turn them off. Failure to do so could result in contamination of your HVAC unit.

It is all right to leave central HVAC systems running, as they provide ample filtration and circulation of outside air.

Other Considerations

Other precautions you will want to take when cleaning and disinfecting an area occupied by someone who is now sick include wearing a mask and gloves and storing chemicals in a safe place.

If you have to wash laundry, the CDC says it is safe to wash a sick person’s laundry together with another person’s without fear of infection. Always take precautions when handling any laundry before washing it.

When washing laundry, you will want to use warm water and give the washed materials adequate time to dry unless the manufacturer’s instructions specify otherwise. After removing the laundry from a basket or hamper, clean and disinfect that space. Wash your hands after you have finished handling the laundry.

The 24-Hour Rule

The CDC recommends cleaning and disinfecting the area if fewer than 24 hours have passed since the sick person occupied that space. Conversely, if it has been more than 24 hours, a thorough cleaning should be fine. If it has been more than three days since the person occupied the space, no cleaning or disinfecting is necessary.

Get the Professional Help You Need with 360clean

Cleaning your facility can be a time-consuming task. At 360clean, we understand the need for efficiency. That’s why we provide an innovative, customer-focused process that allows us to ensure your facility is as clean and safe for your employees and customers as possible. To learn more about our cleaning services, contact us today for a free quote.

Hayden Bodiford

Social Media and PR Manager for 360clean. Based in Charleston, SC

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