Beyond the Products

Cleaning practices: A comprehensive guide to best practices for professionals

When it comes to personal hygiene practices, we all know to wash our hands thoroughly and frequently. However, a single contaminated doorknob or railing in a facility can quickly spread germs. This means that facility managers cannot rely on individuals’ personal hygiene practices alone. To combat the spread of communicable disease, facility managers should stay up to date with the best cleaning practices for their facilities.

Our experts at Spruce Industries have compiled a guide to help you create an effective cleaning plan for your organization. This overview provides information on daily, routine, and special project cleaning practices and also covers cleaning practices for the COVID-19 crisis.

Daily cleaning practices

For all types of facilities, including offices, gyms, and schools, facility managers and custodians should prioritize daily cleaning practices. These practices are especially important for frequently used areas and high-touch surfaces.

Why should you clean frequently used areas and high-touch surfaces on a daily basis?

By nature, highly trafficked areas come into frequent contact with human hands. Bacteria and pathogenic microorganisms can remain on the surface of objects in these areas for an extended period of time.

Facility managers should clean and disinfect high-touch areas and objects daily. These objects include items such as children’s toys, electronic devices, desks, doorknobs, kitchen food contact surfaces, and railings. Both regular cleaning and daily hygiene practices prevent the spread of communicable disease.

Facility managers should also clean and disinfect restroom floor tile, locker rooms, and athletic facilities daily. In these high-contact areas, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) can spread quickly. Use water and detergent to wash any soiled floors and athletic equipment. Then disinfect with a product that is effective against MRSA. For your convenience, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) provides a list of such products.

How can daily cleaning practices incorporate disinfecting as well?

Cleaning and disinfecting perform different tasks on the same surface. Cleaning removes dirt and debris that could harbor bacteria and viruses. To clean a surface, use a cleaning agent, such as soap or detergent, and then rinse with warm water.

Facility managers should also disinfect high-touch areas to eliminate any remaining bacteria and viruses. Use a disinfectant, such as hydrogen peroxide, to thoroughly wipe down the surface of each object. Pay special attention to any hard-to-reach areas.

What should be used to clean and disinfect hard surfaces on a daily basis?

In your daily cleaning practices, you can generally use a reusable cloth or paper towels along with cleaning agents and water on hard surfaces. When necessary, use a more abrasive tool, such as a brush, to agitate and loosen dust and dirt from the surface. Then, rinse away the dirt with warm water. Be sure to wash any reusable towels that you use with soap and hot water between uses.

To disinfect surfaces properly, carefully read any instructions provided on the disinfectant product label. Also, be sure not to mix disinfectants and cleaners. Doing so can produce corrosive and dangerous fumes. Wear any necessary personal protective equipment such as gloves, surgical masks, and eye protection to ensure personal safety.

Additionally, be sure to note that disinfection takes time. In many instances, disinfectants, such as alcohol wipes and bleach, need up to ten minutes to effectively eliminate any bacteria.

Routine cleaning practices

Routine cleaning occurs less frequently than daily cleaning practices. But routine cleaning practices should play an important role in your cleaning rotation.

What does routine cleaning involve?

Routine cleaning should occur on a weekly or monthly basis. This type of cleaning includes tasks such as high dusting and vacuuming as well as cleaning baseboards and walls. Again, dust can harbor bacteria. Because of this, surfaces that accumulate dust require routine cleaning.

Specific routine cleaning tasks will vary with different facility environments. However, all of these tasks can play an integral role in infection prevention and control.

How often should routine cleaning be done in different environments?

Lower traffic areas, such as private offices, do not necessarily require intense daily cleaning practices. In these places, you can limit vacuuming and dusting to once a week.

In food-handling areas, such as a kitchen, these routine tasks should occur more frequently. Grease from cooking can adhere to walls and shelves and harbor bacteria. Take note of each environment and develop a cleaning plan accordingly.

What sustainable products should be used in routine cleaning practices?

Sometimes, the solution to a problem can cause just as much harm as the problem itself. Despite effectively eliminating germs, many cleaning chemicals can cause irritation to the skin, headaches, and even shortness of breath.

Requiring staff to wear disposable gloves and other personal protective equipment can help protect them from these dangers. However, chemical fumes can negatively affect indoor air quality and impact individuals using the space. Because of this, facility managers should prioritize avoiding toxic products in schools, day care centers, and health care facilities.

If you are looking for sustainable products, be wary of products that do not have certifications from organizations like the EPA or Green Seal. Many brands use the terms “green” or “organic” as a marketing tactic even though their products are not sustainable.

Project cleaning practices

On occasion, your institution may require more specific project cleaning initiatives. These tasks include carpet extraction, refinishing floors, and moving furniture to clean especially hard-to-reach surfaces. By definition, these projects require less frequent attention than the previously listed practices.

What equipment do you need for various special cleaning projects?

Special cleaning projects often require heavy duty cleaning supplies and equipment, such as a pressure washer or a specialized sanding machine. In some instances, however, special projects—for example, moving furniture to clean hard-to-reach areas—simply require some extra time and effort.

What kind of special cleaning projects should be carried out on an infrequent basis?

In a kitchen environment, move ovens and refrigerators to clean any grease and dust that has collected in hard-to-reach areas. In addition, clean under sinks, in cupboards, and on top of shelving. Use soapy water to remove the dust and grime and follow up with an appropriate disinfectant.

Other special cleaning projects, such as refinishing gym floors, deep cleaning carpet, or cleaning the grout in a bathroom can help restore surfaces to their original glory. Investing in the best cleaning products for these tasks can lengthen the impact of these projects.

How do project cleaning practices rotate smoothly with daily and routine cleaning practices?

To ensure a smooth rotation of cleaning practices, facility managers should create a maintenance plan that includes all cleaning procedures. Documenting daily and routine tasks can help you prioritize the tasks that have the highest amount of impact.

If you are responsible for cleaning practices in a school environment, be sure to refer to the EPA’s State School Environmental Health Guidelines for additional information on prioritizing and scheduling best cleaning practices.

Effective cleaning practices during the COVID-19 crisis

In one form or another, we have all felt the impact of business and school closures due to the pandemic response. As the federal government releases plans to reopen the economy, organizations face a daunting question. What environmental cleaning procedures are necessary to ensure employee safety in the future?

Why is deep cleaning not an effective approach to disinfecting after a COVID-19 closure?

As facilities begin to reopen across the country, many organizations are taking precautionary measures by deep cleaning their facilities before employees return. These deep cleaning efforts waste both time and energy.

Public health officials from the CDC have clearly stated that if a space has been unoccupied for seven days or longer, the virus will have long disappeared. Instead of investing in deep cleaning measures, organizations should focus on improving daily cleaning and disinfection of high-traffic areas.

What are the differences between daily cleaning, routine cleaning, and project cleaning during COVID-19?

Generally speaking, daily cleaning and disinfecting practices should increase during the COVID-19 crisis. However, routine and special project cleaning practices should continue on their regular cycle. While these less frequent cleaning practices are important, they have minimal impact on preventing the spread of viruses.

If an employee in your facility becomes sick, you will need to temporarily alter your general cleaning practices. In such an instance, close off all areas used by the sick individual and open outside doors and windows to improve air circulation. Wait twenty-four hours before disinfecting the space. Afterward, proceed with regular cleaning and disinfecting.

Why is the combination of daily, routine, and project cleaning practices effective during the COVID-19 crisis?

Understanding the difference between daily, routine, and project cleaning can help facility managers know where to prioritize their time and energy.

First and foremost, organizations should educate employees and students to wash their hands to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Washing your hands on a regular basis serves as a first line of defense. This good hygiene practice significantly decreases the likelihood any virus will spread.

Combined with consistent handwashing, cleaning and disinfecting high-touch areas on a daily basis is critically important for infection prevention and control. Studies of school cleaning practices provide evidence of this. For example, studies show that disinfecting desks daily cut absenteeism by 50 percent in some schools.

As already mentioned, routine and project cleaning initiatives serve an important role in an effective cleaning plan. However, these practices can continue at their regularly scheduled times, even during the COVID-19 crisis.

Develop a plan, then take action

When it comes to maintaining a clean, germ-free environment, organizations should have a rigorous plan in place. Outlining the details of your cleaning practices and routines will equip you and your team to take action.

As you prepare to reopen the doors to your facility, Spruce Industries stands by the managers and custodians on the front lines. Reach out to one of our team members so we can advise you on the best products and practices for your organization. You can count on us to provide the knowledge and tools you need to clean and disinfect with confidence.

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