Cleaning and Disinfection, De-mystified.

Do you know why it’s important to wash hands with soap and water for 20 seconds? It’s the most important step we can take to avoid getting sick and spreading germs, according to the CDC. And, there’s science behind the optimal time of 20 seconds of scrubbing. There’s also science behind the proper use of cleaning and disinfection products.

This post will simplify and explain how to increase the effectiveness of cleaning and disinfection. With the recent outbreak of COVID-19, we’re all on high alert when it comes to cleanliness. There’s a lot of information out there and we’re here to break it down for you.

Whether you are handling cleaning and disinfection yourself or managing a contractor, you want to make sure it’s being done effectively. In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about practicing effective cleaning and disinfection.

We’re going to talk about cleaning chemical labels and MSDS sheets, including how to read them and where to store the information. Then we’ll cover the directions for proper use of disinfectant and how to make sure you’re using the right cleaning products. We talk extensively about managing contractors in other posts, but we will cover this briefly at the end here.

cleaning and disinfection, demystified

Information Resources, Labels, and MSDS

Whether you are handling the cleaning yourself or managing a contractor, it’s important to understand the scope of work and cleaning chemicals used. Check with sites like the CDC for information specific to COVID-19 cleaning. Infection control requires additional work outside of your normal scope of work. Another great resource for information on choosing the right cleaning products is the EPA – They have a list of approved disinfectants and their contact time necessary for use and elimination of specific viruses.

It’s common for cleaning companies to buy products in bulk that need to be diluted to a specific strength. Make sure the refillable bottles that you or your cleaners use are clearly labeled with the product name, use, and dilution ratio. Take it a step further and work with your cleaning product supplier to get automatic dilution dispensers for certain products. This will eliminate waste and ensure that the proper amount of concentrated chemical is used. For smaller companies, this might not be economical. Instead, keep track of your cleaning supply purchases and work with your cleaner and facility supplier to make negotiate fair pricing.

We’re happy to help with sourcing and supplying cleaning products for you or your cleaning company to use. Just give us a call!

MSDS stands for material safety data sheet. This document summarizes the chemical identification and details, use and hazards, handling and other information. It’s important, an often required, to keep these documents on file and available for review. OSHA breaks down the 16 sections of an MSDS in this article.

Directions for safe and effective use of products

Have you every watched a child pump soap onto their hands just to stick them under the running water and wash it right off? It’s a total waste and their hands aren’t going to be clean. If you don’t follow the directions given on disinfectants and cleaners, you’re doing the same thing.

Safe and effective use of disinfectants is ESSENTIAL. Read the product label in its entirety.

There are directions on the label to clean, sanitize, and disinfect. These are three different levels of cleanliness and take different methods to eliminate dirt, food, germs, and invisible microscopic organisms. You will find that many products need to stay on the surface for longer than you expect in order for them to fully disinfect. For example, if you’re spraying lysol disinfectant on door knobs and light switches, you have to spray it for 3-4 seconds and allow the surface to remain wet for at least 10 seconds.

Let’s talk about wet disinfecting wipes – Lysol or otherwise. Some companies may be using these in house for their team to keep up with high-touch surfaces.

**Cleaning contractors should be using a spray bottle with disinfectant to minimize waste.**

Surprise! You need to use enough wipes to actually wet the hard surface you’re cleaning. Although there is a short supply, you’re not wasting a barely damp wipe. The wipe is only effective when it can wet the surface. Here’s the direction Lysol gives:

To Sanitize/Disinfect: Pre-clean surface. Use enough fresh wipes to thoroughly we surface.

To sanitize: Allow to remain wet for 10 seconds.

To disinfect: Allow to remain wet for 4 minutes. Allow surface to air dry. Toss dirty wipe away.

For surfaces that come in contact with food: Use only on hard non-porous surfaces and rinse thoroughly with water.

– Lysol,

Build a strategy For Cleaning and Disinfecting During COVID-19

  • Create a checklist and minimum frequency for cleaning and disinfecting.
  • Consider all high touch surfaces and entry areas.
  • Determine who will be responsible for additional cleaning and disinfection checklist (in house or cleaning contractor).
  • Enforce cleaning and disinfection schedule and scope by requiring a daily or weekly report of completed work signed by a supervisor.
  • Develop a plan for decontamination in the event a person in the building tests positive for COVID-19. There are a number of effective, quick treatments to decontaminate including UVC Irradiation, electrostatic sprayers, and fogging. Call us to learn more and choose the best option for your building.

Prevention Considerations

  • Consider a change in traffic flow to encourage social distancing or minimal surface contact.
  • Identify areas to place hand sanitizer and/or sanitizing wipe dispensers.
  • Consider all high touch surfaces and entry areas to identify “touchless” upgrades like automatic doors or dispensers.
  • Enforce and encourage hand washing and hand sanitizing with signage.
  • Install plastic barriers at appropriate points of contact to block airborne particles. For example, at a checkout or security check.

Tips for managing a cleaning contract for increased infection control.

  • Communicate your scope of work requirements and contract price in a contract that is signed and acknowledged by both parties.
  • Check in daily or weekly (depending on your scope) to ensure the work is being completed. Remember: people do what you inspect, not what you expect.
  • Require a daily or weekly report of work completed. This is good to have on record in the even an outbreak occurs. It also creates accountability.
  • Establish payment terms withing the cleaning contract and make sure you and the contractor are upholding their end of the contract.
  • Make sure your cleaning contractor is properly insured to your insurance requirements to minimize risk.

That’s all for now, folks. If you have any questions about cleaning and disinfection in your building to combat COVID-19, don’t hesitate to give us a call or shoot us an email.

We’re happy to help.

You can reach our operations team by emailing [email protected] or calling 203-741-8770.

Stay well, stay healthy, stay safe.


Mariel Nowack

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