While the pandemic has posed difficulties for many individuals, one silver lining is that the cleaning sector, and the brave frontline workers who work in it, have taken center stage. Cleaning experts often worked in the shadows of business buildings, performing repetitive, labor-intensive activities in order to keep them clean. Consumers are now much more aware of the critical role that custodians and facility managers play in ensuring the health and safety of the public.
Cleaning for the sake of aesthetics is no longer enough. The general population now realizes that a surface can appear and smell clean yet nevertheless carry microorganisms that are hazardous. To restore confidence, maintain brand reputation, and prevent the spread of infectious agents, facilities must use a “cleaning for health” strategy.
Pivoting to protect the public
Consumers used to rate cleanliness primarily on what they saw and smelled. A lasting lemon or lavender aroma in a public restroom, as well as streak- and dirt-free floors, would indicate that cleaning is a priority. This is usually where the investigation ends. While it’s true that cleanliness doesn’t have a scent, most people base their judgments on their sense of smell. While germs were always a threat, SARS-CoV-2 gave them a whole new meaning.
The advent of this extremely contagious virus has changed the way we think about cleanliness. It’s not enough to have clean surfaces and areas. They must be spotless beyond the naked eye’s ability to see. While the virus transmits more easily through the air, the public expects facilities to take all reasonable steps to maintain cleanliness and restrict the infection’s transfer from surfaces to people.
Organizations that show a commitment to preventative measures throughout the pandemic — and afterward — are more likely to succeed. When it comes to storing cleaning, the International Council of Shopping Centers found that 66 percent of customers prefer to see more frequent cleaning.
As a result, not only is visible, frequent cleaning required, but facilities must also employ effective cleaning chemicals and technology in order to improve cleaning performance and demonstrate that they take cleaning seriously.
A commitment to cleanliness
While cleaning for health helps to maintain a facility’s appearance, it also removes bacteria, fungi, and viruses completely. Consider the following recommended practices for cleaning for health while also demonstrating an organization’s devotion to its employees, visitors, and customers.
- Examine cleaning solutions thoroughly— List N was produced by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide facility managers and customers with a clear list of disinfectants permitted for use against SARS-CoV-2. Many options are accessible on the list, ranging from ready-to-use disinfection sprays to wipes, which users may filter by kind of environment, surface, and contact time. It’s vital to keep in mind that this list does not include every viable option. It doesn’t mean a disinfectant isn’t suitable for a cleaning program just because it isn’t included. Other third-party testing options, such as independent Good Laboratory Practices (GLP) laboratories, are available to assist in the search for appropriate substances. Cleaning and disinfection products manufactured from water, salt, and electricity, for example, are electrochemically activated solutions (ECAS). They have not included in the EPA’s List N of ready-to-use (RTU) items because they are generated by a system. If a company wants to clean in a more environmentally friendly and sustainable way, the facility manager might ask the building service provider if the on-site generation system has been approved by the EPA. Cleaning products should also be checked for potentially caustic or hazardous components, according to facility managers. Cleaning personnel is exposed to higher risks as they clean more regularly. It’s simple to protect employees by reducing chemical dangers in the workplace.
- Employees should be trained (and retrained)— Keep in mind that not only custodians and cleaning specialists are cleaning more thoroughly during the epidemic, but so are staff who have never used disinfectants or cleaning equipment before. Cleaning jobs, like many others in the food service and retail industries, have a high turnover rate. Unprecedented levels of stress are also being experienced by essential personnel. The importance of clear and regular instruction cannot be overstated. Organizations may also look into certification and accreditation. Educate personnel on the different cleaning materials, equipment, tools, and technology that the facility uses to keep it clean for health. To ensure that personnel is following the two-step method of cleaning first and disinfecting second, provide hands-on practice with electrostatic sprayers, dispensing equipment, floor care devices, and even chemicals. Create visual guides, hold classroom training sessions with takeaway tools, and continue to promote best practices with verbal reminders and compliments.
- Make cleaning a priority—Airports, schools, supermarkets,s, and retail establishments all welcome visitors, students, and employees. Set a cleaning plan that allows personnel to clean while visitors and residents are in the facility to boost confidence and peace of mind. This is one of the simplest ways to demonstrate that a company is committed to public health. People trust that the facility is taking the appropriate precautions to prevent infectious outbreaks when they can watch the process.
Transforming how we clean
The public’s opinion of cleanliness and its role in protecting health and safety has evolved as a result of the pandemic. Consumers are more aware than ever before of the need for disinfection and hand hygiene in public places, as well as the efforts made by facilities to limit the spread of sickness. Meanwhile, businesses are seeking innovative ways to deploy new cleaning products and technology, train, certify, and protect their cleaning employees, and improve their entire cleaning strategy.
Schools, commercial offices, retail stores, airports, convention centers, and other places can lower pathogen loads, maintain employee well-being, and protect facility occupants and visitors by focusing on cleaning for health.