Every year the cleaning service industry makes $46 billion dollars, according to the Small Business Development Center Network. Following the recent coronavirus pandemic, demand for professional cleaning services is expected to grow as homes and businesses work to stay as clean and hygienic as possible. But it’s essential that all cleaning and janitorial businesses follow strict safety and disinfection protocols to ensure both they and the clients they work for are protected.
Ventilate the area
One of the first things you should do when entering your client’s premises for cleaning purposes is to ventilate all the rooms. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that ventilation ‘will help shorten the time it takes respiratory droplets to be removed from the air.’ So be sure to open the windows, exterior doors, and use ventilating fans where possible. For safety and insurance purposes, remember to turn fans off and close and lock all windows and doors at the end of your shift.
Wear personal protective equipment (PPE)
All cleaners should already be used to wearing PPE as it is an effective safety tool. One study found that the injury rate for cleaners is 35.9 per 100 full-time equivalents (FTE), whereas for all other employees it’s just 13.64.
This is why PPE, such as aprons, hand protection, and slip-resistant footwear should always be worn. It’s even more crucial now that PPE is worn when cleaning workspaces and domestic properties as it is an effective infection prevention and control method.
In addition to wearing your usual PPE, you should also use safety glasses with side shields, non-latex gloves, and a face mask. At the end of your shift, make sure you dispose of the gloves and wash your hands with soap and warm water for a minimum of 20 seconds.
When cleaning a domestic home, you might be tempted to drop your face mask, especially if there’s no one home. However, aerosols containing pollutants and viruses can hang around indoors, contaminate the air, and fall onto furniture, so you should always wear face protection and gloves to safeguard yourself.
Disinfect as much as possible
In normal circumstances, experts recommend that office desks and tables are disinfected at least once per week, but in the current climate this should be increased to daily. You should also ensure that all frequently used areas and equipment are disinfected on a daily basis, including offices, bathrooms, elevators, break areas, touch screens, computer equipment, door handles, switches, and touch entry systems.
To be effective, the disinfectant used should contain a minimum of 70% alcohol, be diluted, and used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. An alternative option is to use a bleach solution. For best results, wipe dirty and dusty surfaces down with a cloth first before disinfecting or bleaching.
Special care should also be taken when cleaning valuable pieces of furniture, such as antique cabinets and period ornaments. While it may be tempting to disinfect these high-end items, you need to ensure you’re using the right cleaning materials to properly preserve them and to prevent an insurance claim being made against you. For these reasons, it’s beneficial to keep basic cleaning materials such as salt, white vinegar, lemon juice, and baking soda handy.
Hot washes are a must
If there is a suspected or confirmed outbreak of any virus in a workplace or domestic property then extra precautions should be taken when handling and washing laundry. It’s important not to shake any dirty laundry such as bedsheets as this will spread the virus in the air and contaminate other surfaces. It’s best to wash laundry at the highest temperature possible, as per the manufacturer’s instructions. Where possible, opt for a minimum temperature of 167 degrees F as this will help to kill off any germs.
Safe equipment storage and disposal
When you’ve finished cleaning, it’s crucial that you safely store and dispose of the equipment you’ve used to prevent viruses from spreading. If you keep your cleaning tools on site make sure they are locked away in a cupboard.
Disposable materials, such as rags, gowns, and gloves, should be double-bagged before being disposed of outside with the garbage. Reusable, non-porous cleaning equipment, including mops, should be washed at a high temperature where possible or left to soak in disinfectant or bleach solution. Mop heads can be further disinfected by soaking in boiling water.
As a cleaning professional, it’s essential that strict safety and disinfection protocols are followed when cleaning the premises of your clients. By taking extra time to thoroughly clean the premises from top to bottom and being cautious with the way you handle, store, and dispose of items, you’ll significantly lower the risk of infection for everyone that steps foot in the building.
Author Bio: Amy Fletcher is a freelance writer and researcher with a keen interest in business management. In recent years she has written for various online magazines, journals, and blogs. When she's not writing she enjoys long walks with her daughter and two dogs.