Specific infectious diseases require specific cleaning protocols. Here’s how to adapt yours to fit the situation. 

Your cleaning protocols are the result of your years of experience, recommendations from trusted sources, and industry best practices. There’s probably some good old-fashioned trial and error built in, too. 

In most cases, the protocols you have in place work. A conference room is a conference room, whether it has eight chairs or sixteen. Cleaning a breakroom in an office building is similar to cleaning a breakroom in a retail shop. 

Every now and then, however, issues arise that force us to reconsider the way we approach a situation. One of those times is when we need to adapt cleaning protocols to handle specific infectious diseases. While many of us are familiar with seasonal flu and the common cold, the last few years have shown us that unexpected diseases can appear, and we need to be prepared. 

Improve communications and stay on top of safety protocols. Schedule a free call with Janitorial Manager to learn how mobile-friendly janitorial software can help your team improve safety for everyone.

What is an infectious disease?

The Mayo Clinic defines infectious diseases as “disorders caused by organisms — such as bacteria, viruses, fungi or parasites.” While the term sounds exotic, many infectious diseases are common, such as strep throat, athlete’s foot, or Lyme disease. 

Infectious diseases are transmitted from person to person through coughing or sneezing. These diseases can also be picked up on doorknobs, light switches, and other high-touch areas. Additionally, bacteria, viruses, fungi, and parasites can be transmitted by getting scratched or bitten by an infected animal, insect bites, or food contamination. 

For example, salmonella or E. coli can live on food prep surfaces and infect anyone ingesting food that has contacted that surface. Pseudomonas aeruginosa, a germ that can cause pneumonia or blood infections, spreads when people touch contaminated equipment or surfaces. 

In other words, an infectious disease is anything, from the common cold to Covid to Giardia to Hepatitis to the flu, that can be passed from one living being to another. And because they spread in different ways and have different biological make ups, how do you adapt your current cleaning protocols to protect your team and your clients?

5 Ways to adapt your cleaning protocols to the situation at hand

1. Ensure your cleaning protocols are up to date. This is probably the best place to begin. If your infection control procedures already account for best practices and the latest available information, then you’ll start from a much better point. This includes protocols and training around bloodborne pathogens, proper use of PPE, and so on.

2. Know what you’re working with. Infectious diseases have a way of making rounds. So check with your school nurse, college health office, a local branch of your state health department, or a community resource to find out what diseases are circulating in the community. That way, you know which cleaning protocols are in order and what you may need to adapt. 

3. Consult the CDC. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website has numerous resources for cleaning professionals. For example, in reference to healthcare settings, they state that “risk determines cleaning frequency, method, and process in routine and contingency cleaning schedules for all patient care areas.” They also provide an assessment tool to help determine the risk, which you can check out here. This is a general guideline, but is helpful in determining your direction in adapting your routine. 

4. Know your enemy. Ancient Chinese philosophy doesn’t come up often in janitorial cleaning protocols, but in this situation, Sun Tzu’s advice is solid. For instance, some viruses are harder to kill than others. Additionally, disinfectants and cleaners don’t all work the same way. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a good breakdown of the different virus categories:  

  • Tier 1: Enveloped viruses are the easiest to inactivate. When disinfectants damage their lipid envelope, the virus is no longer infectious. 
  • Tier 2: Large, nonenveloped viruses are encased in protein capsids that make them more difficult to inactivate compared to enveloped viruses. 
  • Tier 3: Small, nonenveloped viruses are the hardest to inactivate. Both their protein capsids and their small size make them less vulnerable to disinfectants compared to other viruses.

5. Use the right product. Once you know what pathogen you’re dealing with, you can use EPA resources to determine which product is effective in neutralizing that pathogen. In the screenshot below, you can see how effective three different active ingredients are on Tier 1, 2, and 3 viruses. 

Cleaning Protocols

With a few resources and some advanced planning, you can easily adapt your current cleaning protocols to be effective against most infectious diseases. Along with your regular best practices, such as proper PPE, paying attention to dwell time, and thorough task lists, you can feel comfortable knowing your team is doing what it takes to keep your clients safe.

Make health and wellness the core of your hospital janitorial strategy. Schedule a free call with Janitorial Manager to learn how mobile-friendly janitorial software can help your team improve conditions for everyone.