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Cleaning During Flu Season

Posted By Erin L. Lasch CAE, Thursday, December 6, 2018

By Bruce Vance


Flu season is upon us again and cleaning companies want to ensure they are doing all they can to keep their clients and their technicians safe from the flu. After all, we are the first line of defense in the health care system. Obviously, we can’t protect them from all exposure, but we can use hygienic cleaning in the home to lessen transmission within it.
Hygienic Cleaning


Germs can be transmitted through the air, person to person contact, and from surfaces touched by an infected person. Hygienic cleaning targets these high touch areas for special attention. These are things such as door knobs, sink faucets, phones especially if shared by more than one-person, light switches, and anything that multiple people touch frequently. When cleaning high touch areas, turn your cloth so that you are not using the same side twice. (Fold your cloths so that you have eight sides). If you are using micro fiber cloths, normal cleaning should be adequate. If there is an active outbreak you may want to use disinfectant wipes. Again, use each side only once and follow directions.


The importance of using a side only once was highlighted in a study at Northern Arizona University in which they found that when using the same side of their disinfecting wipe, by the third doorknob they were actually adding, not subtracting, germs. Do remember to include the outside doorknob on the main entry.


Having said all this, we obviously can have a limited impact if we are only there every week or two. Germs can spread rapidly through a building. In one study the entrance door handle was inoculated with germs in the morning and 40% of the inhabitants of the building had traces on their hands by noon. However, you can help your clients during a flu outbreak by educating them on hygienic cleaning.


Protecting yourself and your staff


In addition to helping your clients protect themselves, it is important to protect yourself and your staff. At this time of year using personal protective equipment, especially gloves, is more important than ever.


Hand washing is the first line of defense. Wash your hands after removing gloves and between houses. Oh, and while you are wearing those gloves, watch what you are touching, especially your face. Germs can ride on dust, so avoid methods that send dust into the air. Vacuum instead of sweeping, use a cloth instead of a brush.


Keeping Mrs. Smith’s germs from visiting Mrs. Jones


It is critical that we take every precaution to prevent the transfer of germs from one house to another. I hope everyone uses separate cloths and mop heads for each house, but what about scrub sponges? These are breeding grounds for bacteria and carriers for viruses. They can be sanitized in the microwave, but I suspect that most people use the same dirty sponge from house to house. You can substitute scrubbing micro fiber cloths which can be washed with other micro fibers and come in colors to match your color coding. Wash your cloths in as hot water as you can. If your washer has a sanitizing cycle, use it. If you use cotton cloths, add chlorine bleach in laundering. If you use microfibers, hot water and detergent are usually enough, but if you feel there is a high risk, add chlorine bleach. It is not recommended for microfibers but the better ones can tolerate it. It will shorten their life, though. 


Flu season is never fun but with a little care, we can help protect ourselves and our clients.

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