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Myth-Busting Coronavirus Deep Cleaning – Part Two

Myth-Busting Coronavirus Deep Cleaning – Part Two
28th May 2020
 

Christian Harris, Founder of Slip Safety Services & Decontamination Cleaning UK, continues his deep cleaning myth-busting.

Harris outlined his advice on the three main aspects that make up true cleanliness in part one, and this week he explains more on how to create a framework to provide a clean, hygienic and safe environment for staff and customers. 

 

What do you need to do?

 

In part one I gave you three metrics you need to consider. But how should you go about delivering the outcomes that you want?

It feels as if everyone is now saying they can kill the coronavirus. In reality, there is no single process that has been proven to an international standard to kill the virus from a surface. We have a very good idea, but testing is still being done to confirm this 100%.

There are, however, methods that Public Health England for example, have signed up to, which include physical cleaning of touch points using certain chemicals, certain processes and certain PPE. This is a clear signpost on how you should be dealing with things from an infection control perspective.

However, as already stated, you cannot kill off germs or viruses without effective deep cleaning first. It’s vital that you understand the three types of “cleaning” as relates to this subject:

 

  • Cleaning is the removal of soiling, whether visible of invisible, from a surface
  • Sanitising is the reduction of bacteria and germs
  • Disinfection is the removal of bacteria and germs

 

You can sanitise a surface without necessarily cleaning it first, or indeed you can have one product or process which does both (e.g. your antibacterial spray at home). But you cannot disinfect without thoroughly cleaning first, so not every all-in-one process will necessarily work.

So, if you are looking to ensure that germs are removed, you first need to have a thoroughly clean surface.

Whilst if your building has been closed, the virus will not be there, as soon as you open up again there will be the chance of the virus coming in. If your surfaces are not clean, you will not be able to remove that virus with disinfection, you’d only be able to reduce it with sanitisation.

In summary, it’s important that you have a thorough deep clean if you want to disinfect.

 

Fogging and electrostatic spraying

 

Fogging is atomising a chemical to apply it as a mist directionally. Electrostatic spraying is a method of applying a coating, cleaner, disinfectant, or other liquid, that involves applying an electric charge to a liquid in order to get it to fully cover a surface. The charge acts as a magnet to a surface but also ensures that the liquid doesn’t stick to itself either, so you get full surface coverage

The principal difference, therefore, is that, even if both methods were equally diligently applied, fogging can miss areas whereas electrostatic spraying will ensure to cover all surfaces.

 

Fogging only – pros and cons

 

With fogging operatives wearing full PPE and not physically needing to touch surfaces, the delivery risk is perhaps lower than physical cleaning.

It isn’t cleaning a surface, and therefore if a surface is very dirty, this method won’t have the desired effect. Moreover, it is directional and it’s easy to miss a spot using this method.

 

Electrostatic disinfection only – pros and cons

 

This is much more effective than fogging in one respect, because the electrostatic charge clings to surfaces and therefore, it’s much, much more difficult for any areas to be missed. So, this will give you a better chance of achieving the right end result.

However, again, unless this is coupled with some physical cleaning for a cleaning process, it’s unlikely to be fully effective on every single surface, particularly areas where dirt is present.

As with fogging, the protection provided by PPE is great. As with fogging, I’d be very wary of solely doing this.

 

Physical cleaning only – pros and cons

 

Public Health England’s guidance is based on physical cleaning. There is no published government guidance on fogging or electrostatic spraying. For that reason alone, I’d suggest you must think very carefully about choosing any service that doesn’t include a thorough physical clean.

This will be effectively up to the government’s standards, provided you do it with the right level of diligence and that you follow the process of clean, then disinfect.

A downside is that to clean and then disinfect, you do physically need to touch every part of a surface, so huge diligence is required, plus the risk to operatives is arguably greater. The risk of human error is rife.

A risk is that contractors’ cleaning processes may not be effective. Again, if you’re not cleaning effectively, you cannot disinfect.

 

A two-step process is needed

 

Overall, I believe that if you don’t have a two-step process and if you don’t start that process with an effective deep clean, you’re wasting your time.

If, for example, you were travelling on the train and your tray table was grubby, you’d pull out a disinfection wipe. Your perception is that the wipe will both clean and disinfect the surface. In fact, all of the active ingredients are going to be used up in cleaning the surface contamination. So, it’s only if you wipe the surface a second time that you would have any chance of disinfecting it.

 How should you approach this, given the above?

 

  1. Take in the above and implement the points raised. So, you need to not just rely on your cleaning contractor or your chemical supplier or whoever it may be to say “we’ll deal with this”, without putting some rigour into the processes that they are actually following. After all, it’s your name over the door. It’s your responsibility, ultimately, to provide a safe environment for your staff and clients. Nowadays, safe includes clean
  2. Introduce some quantification of these processes. You need to ensure that they are effective, otherwise you could easily not only waste thousands of pounds but also leave your building’s users at risk and your company at risk. Again, everyone is offering COVID-19 services –it’s your building, it’s your risk, you need to be certain that you are getting what you are paying for

 

Remember that you need to be truly clean to be able to eradicate, and then keep away, viruses and bacteria. Even if you can’t perceive it, it is incredibly likely that you do have contamination on your floors and walls and certain other surfaces that are heavily used. This will particularly be the case in areas of buildings that have challenging contaminants such as showers, toilets, kitchens and any heavily trafficked floors.

You’ve got to get these surfaces clean first to give yourself any chance of suppressing the virus or other bacteria.

 

Perception is reality

 

If someone walks into your building after lockdown and a table top looks a bit greasy, the floor is a bit sticky, the toilet sinks have a bit of limescale around them, and they can smell some odours of any kind, their immediate reaction is going to be one of fear.

Just as if you go to a restaurant and the washroom is a bit dirty, you wonder what does that mean about the cleanliness of the kitchen? If anyone sees any signs of contamination of any kind in your building after lockdown, they’re going to be fearful about their safety, and they’re not going to be keen to return.

Do it right, but then communicate it to your staff and clients

 

New expectations

 

Remember this isn’t akin to some tissue on the floor, which might annoy somebody. This is a life or death situation and cleanliness and hygiene now needs to be considered as one of if not your top risks, at least for the foreseeable future.

Remember, the public is now acutely aware of how important cleanliness is. And it’s down to you as a building operator to meet these new expectations but also to communicate them seriously to staff and your client base, so they can retain the confidence in you, and the environment that you’re providing them.

Remember, this is a devastating disease. You owe it to yourself and anyone who comes into contact with any buildings you are responsible for, to do this right.

Picture: A graphic showing a person's hand, a bottle of hand sanitiser and a virus

Article written by Christian Harris – published 28th May 2020

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