Keep your clients’ offices healthy this flu season with infection control cleaning designed to prevent and eliminate illnesses in the workplace.
Sniffles, coughs, scratchy throats, and even the flu can pop up any time of year. By practicing infection control cleaning, your company can help reduce and prevent office sickness so employees can focus on their jobs while enjoying good health.
While you may clean offices on a daily basis, implementing infection control cleaning takes things a step further by focusing specifically on those areas where illnesses like the flu, common cold, and strep throat are easily spread. Taking these extra precautions helps ensure a healthy and happy workforce, and it’s essential to get cleaners, employers, and employees on the same page about such practices.
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Common office illnesses and where to find them
The most common illnesses experienced in offices stem from the common cold, or rhinovirus. Because it weakens your immune system and has no cure, the common cold often gives way to other illnesses like influenza (flu), bronchitis, and strep throat, most of which are contagious for up to a week. (Strep throat, however, is contagious for up to twenty-one days!)
Other illnesses that pop up frequently in offices are gastroenteritis (stomach flu), conjunctivitis (pink eye), and other respiratory infections.
Most of these infections are caused by viruses, which can’t be cured and must run their courses. And while there are treatments available for both bacterial and viral infections, the best thing to do is put infection control cleaning in place to prevent and minimize the number of illnesses present in your office.
And make no mistake, offices are full of germs, but some of them lurk in places you might not expect. For example, an office desk may be up to 400 times more contaminated with infectious germs than a restroom toilet seat! That includes things like keyboards, phone receivers and number pads, computer mouses, and even writing utensils.
Of course, public bathrooms are also a sure-in for needing infection control cleaning. One study found that within an hour of use, public restroom surfaces accumulate 500,000 bacterial cells per square inch. With many germs living for twenty-four hours or more, that’s a lot of germs collecting in just one single day!
Other places that are high-risk for infectious germs in the office: the kitchen/break room (especially the water cooler, twenty-five percent of which are considered a severe risk for transmitted illnesses, and the sink, which may contain more germs than a toilet seat), conference rooms, stairway rails, and elevator buttons.
So what can you do to protect your clients from all these germs? What kind of infection control cleaning should your janitorial staff implement? We’ve compiled a few of the best ones for you below.
5 Infection control cleaning strategies that work
1. Have sick employees stay home
Okay, so it’s not a cleaning method, but trust us, keeping infected workers out of the workplace will drastically reduce the number of illnesses in both your workplace and your clients’ offices. Research suggests that 39% of employees go to work sick. Managers and business leaders should lead by example with this one so people won’t feel like they’re expected to come into work sick.
2. Clean and disinfect surfaces daily
One of the most effective infection control cleaning methods is to disinfect commonly handled surfaces, but only if done correctly. Clean surfaces such as desktops, keyboards, phone receivers, doorknobs, and counters with an all-purpose cleaner first, then wipe down with disinfectant spray. Disinfectant should ideally be left on a surface for 30-60 seconds to be fully effective. Remember that all-purpose cleaner doesn’t disinfect, so if that’s all you use, you’re leaving most of the germs behind!
3. Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) and wash hands
Use gloves and masks when you’re cleaning offices during cold and flu season, then dispose of them properly and avoid contacting freshly cleaned surfaces. If the cleaning job takes a long time, it’s a good idea to swap out PPE every 30 minutes.
When finished with PPE, and after touching potentially contaminated surfaces, cleaners should wash their hands for 15-20 seconds with warm water and antibacterial soap. Among other benefits, handwashing reduces respiratory illnesses by 16-21% in the general population, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), making it another effective infection control cleaning method.
4. Dispose of trash daily and wash trash containers
Germs love to gather in wastebaskets. Have your cleaning staff empty all wastebaskets daily and wash them down with disinfectant spray, inside and out. When finished, they should wash their hands before tending to the next task.
5. Dust vents, window ledges, and other neglected areas
Many dust particles are comprised of dead skin cells that can still transmit illnesses. To reduce the risk of infection, dust the office thoroughly, remembering to tend to countertops, shelves, ledges, heating and cooling vents, and other areas where dust gathers.
You could even add these to a “cold and flu season” add-on for clients, giving them a healthy space, and giving you a little extra revenue.
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