Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, what is the proper method to clean my business for the safety of my employees and the general public?

This article is intended to offer a simple framework for making your workplace safe, based on current CDC and EPA guidelines.

  1. Have a cleaning protocol and schedule. Your protocol should incorporate 2 through 5 below, as well as a list of touch points to be cleaned. Generally, all touch points should be cleaned and disinfected at least once daily. In some cases (like restaurants or other high traffic businesses), high touch points (like tables and chairs) should be cleaned and disinfected after every new user use. Your protocol should spell out each touch point, and how often it is to be disinfected. Your protocol should be posted in areas where employees can see them all day, every day. In businesses with high traffic, consider laminated signs on high touch areas, showing your protocol. While outside areas typically have better ventilation and are perceived as safer, it is recommended that you clean and disinfect the same way and frequency as you do on inside areas. High touch areas should include tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.

2. Use proper disinfectant. The EPA has recently developed “List N” – which includes most known disinfectants intended to kill the Covid-19 Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). You can search for any disinfectant via the following EPA web link: https://cfpub.epa.gov/giwiz/disinfectants/index.cfm. Most institutional solutions can be purchased from Grainger, Amazon, Sysco Foods and many other suppliers.

More simply, the CDC states that common household bleach (Clorox, etc.) is effective against Covid-10. (Use 1/3 cup per gallon at room temperature water mix). Bleach must have sodium hypochlorite content higher than 5.25% (Clorox is 7.55%).

3. Have a cleaning method (7 Steps).

1: Before “disinfecting”, clean the surface with warm soapy water (such as Dawn, etc.) to remove visible soil from the surfaces.

2: Rinse the cleaning solution from the surface to remove all chemicals before disinfecting.

3: Use either a bleach solution soaked cleaning cloth or a spray bottle with bleach solution to apply the bleach as disinfectant (microfiber towels are the best textile choice for this application, as bleach does not impact the microfiber.)

Microfiber Towels

4: DWELL time, or the amount of time the bleach is wet on the surface is important (10 minutes is a basic standard).

5: RINSE the surface with clear, warm water – to remove the residual bleach after dwell.

6: Allow the surfaces to AIR DRY before allowing them to be used by the public.

7: On high touch public areas, CERTIFY the cleaning by placing a sign nearby, showing that the protocol has been followed (for more public confidence on high touch public surfaces, consider leaving a blank space on the sign, to fill in the time that disinfecting was completed last).

4) Use proper cleaning equipment/PPE: Associates should wear (at a minimum), safety googles or face shield, face mask, disposable (one use) gloves. One plastic bucket should contain soap/water, another bucket should contain clear warm water, and another bucket should contain the disinfectant solution. After EACH use, the buckets should be emptied and rinsed. New solutions should be mixed for each application. Never “re-use” soap/water, rinse or cleaning solutions.

5) Continually check the process. As the manager or owner of your business if it’s advisable to personally check the high touch areas several times daily, to ensure your protocol is being followed, and to train where necessary.

6) Talk the talk. Walk the walk. Talk to customers about your protocol. Talk to associates about the importance of both the disinfecting and the public confidence, and most of all – health and safety.

7) Final Thoughts: Cleaning and disinfecting hard surfaces in your facility is one of the best ways to help reduce the spread of pathogens, like the 2019 Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). The contamination of surfaces is likely occurring when an infected individual coughs or sneezes and releases respiratory droplets. Viruses, like Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), can remain infectious on surfaces for as little as a few hours, or as long as several days. As a result, cleaning and disinfecting high touch points around your facility like countertops, handrails, desks, phones, and other commonly touched surfaces is important. Using bleach as an alternative to your normal disinfectant can be effective when used according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Always remember to take the proper precautions to avoid any injury or damage to the person or property. Take extra precautions as needed with heavy traffic and public use of surfaces.

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