How Cleaning and Sanitizing Reduces the Risk COVID-19

Home >Blog>Does disinfecting surfaces really prevent illness?

You might think that with how long it’s been since the first outbreak of COVID-19 that it’s in the past and you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Yet several years later, variants of the virus still linger, along with other seasonal illnesses like the flu and colds.

While it’s impossible to eliminate all risk, regular cleaning and sanitizing can reduce the spread of illness among your employees and keep your office happy, healthy, and productive.

But is it as simple as using some disinfectant wipes or antibacterial spray? How do you know if your workspace is really clean? Our years of commercial cleaning experience have helped us develop sanitization services that both keep your office surfaces sparkling and reduce the spread of infections like COVID-19.

How COVID-19 Spreads

COVID-19 is a virus that causes the flu-like symptoms associated with the common cold. Many patients report having a cough, shortness of breath, or a loss of taste or smell. It is spread through respiratory droplets that come from the coughing or sneezing of someone who has the virus in their respiratory tract. The virus that causes COVID-19 can land on surfaces (such as floors, walls, tables, and countertops). People who touch these contaminated surfaces may then touch their hands to their nose or mouth and eventually contract the virus.

While it is possible to get COVID-19 by touching a contaminated surface, it is much more likely that you will get COVID-19 from someone who has been infected with the virus if they cough or sneeze directly on you. Nonetheless, employing sanitization practices can help reduce the risk of someone contracting the disease.

Cleaning Surfaces to Reduce the Risk of COVID-19

If you work in an environment where you interact with people on a daily basis, it’s important to know that there are some things you can do to prevent the further spread of COVID-19 and other communicable illnesses.

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water. If soap and water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that has a minimum of 60% alcohol content.
  • Make a conscious effort not to touch the areas around your eyes, nose, and mouth. If skin contact is inevitable, then washing your hands thoroughly beforehand can safeguard you.
  • Disinfect surfaces and objects that may be contaminated with COVID-19—such as doorknobs—using bleach or another EPA-registered disinfectant.

Differences Between Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Sanitizing

The CDC recommends cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces at least once a day. These include, but are not limited to, work desks, door knobs or door handles, light switches, countertops, telephones, keyboards, stair rails, toilets, urinals, faucets, and sinks. Services such as cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing are all ways to lessen the chances of getting COVID-19. While many people use these words synonymously, they do have some differences.

Cleaning is the first step in reducing your risk of contracting COVID-19. This involves removing dirt, dust, grease, grime, and other organic matter from surfaces where you might come into contact with the virus. This includes your hands, face, clothes, and any other items that come into contact with your skin or mucous membranes. It is typically performed with a mild detergent or soap solution.

Disinfecting, commonly part of sanitization services,  involves using a chemical solution to kill disease-causing microorganisms such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi on surfaces like countertops and door handles. This step typically happens right after cleaning.

You can use bleach or alcohol-based cleaners to disinfect these surfaces. There are also commercially available products designed specifically for disinfection, such as Lysol Disinfectant Spray or Clorox Germicidal Bleach Spray. However, keep in mind that these chemicals can be harmful if they come into contact with human skin, so make sure you wear gloves while cleaning these areas. Disinfectants must be used according to label instructions to be effective and safe.

Sanitizing is similar to disinfecting but has slightly different properties. Sanitizing is used on objects or materials that don’t have time for full disinfection because sanitizers typically work faster than disinfectants. While both sanitizers and disinfectants use chemicals such as chlorine bleach, alcohols, and quaternary ammonium compounds (quats), sanitizers usually contain lower levels of these chemicals than disinfectants do. To sum it all up, sanitizers work to reduce the level of microorganisms to be considered up to par with public safety standards, while disinfectants are meant to eliminate inactive fungi and bacteria.

When to Clean and Disinfect Surfaces

While the coronavirus can’t survive on a typical office surface for more than two or three days, a few hours can be enough time for multiple employees to come in contact with an infected surface. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration recommend that workers clean, disinfect, and sanitize surfaces on a regular basis.

You may want sanitization services more frequently in shared spaces if the space:

  • Has high-touch surfaces
  • Is in a public area such as a lobby or waiting room
  • Is in an area where people are likely to cough or sneeze, such as a break room or reception area

How Do I Disinfect Surfaces Properly?

The following are some basic tips for cleaning and sanitizing workplaces:

  • High-touch surfaces, like doorknobs, faucet handles, light switches, and work cubicles are the most at-risk for spreading the virus. Prioritize cleaning high-traffic areas and surfaces. The best prevention method is proper hygiene guidelines and not touching your eyes, mouth, or nose when you are cleaning a bathroom or other high-touch surface area.
  • Clean surfaces like countertops, tables, desks, chairs, and floors with soap and water or other cleaning products that contain bleach or hydrogen peroxide as an ingredient.
  • If practical, use disposable wipes instead of cloth towels because they can be thrown out after each use without having to wash them in hot water (which can spread germs).
  • When cleaning floors, make sure not to use a cloth or sponge because they may contain dirt particles that can spread the virus further. 
  • Start cleaning and sanitizing with the least dirty areas to avoid spreading the dirt around.
  • You can also use alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol for the first step before deep-cleaning the surfaces. 
  • The most effective way to clean or disinfect a surface is by using an EPA-registered disinfectant or a household bleach solution. In addition to killing CVID-19, these disinfectants will kill other germs as well.
  • Always follow the directions on the package label when using any cleaning product. This will help ensure that no harmful chemicals are released into the air when they are used. It will also tell you how long it takes for the product to work and what kind of surface you can use it on.

When it comes to cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting surfaces, it’s a good idea to do it regularly—and if you find this is impractical with your busy work schedule, then it’s time to let the professionals take over.

Professional commercial cleaners, such as Seattle Commercial Cleaners, can provide a wide range of services including everything from janitorial services to disinfecting to high-dusting and window cleaning. Our team of commercial cleaners uses state-of-the-art equipment and specialized sanitization techniques to thoroughly clean and disinfect all surfaces of an office building so you can rest assured that your employees are safe from COVID-19. Contact us now for an estimate.