The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring an outbreak of respiratory illness caused by the novel (new) coronavirus first identified in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. For business service contractors, commercial cleaning techniques are very important during this time. Commercial cleaning products can combat coronavirus and BSCs should be extra diligent about how they’re tackling the illness.
What is the Coronavirus?
2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV or COVID-19) is a virus (more specifically, a coronavirus) identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China. Early on, many of the patients in the outbreak in Wuhan, China reportedly had some link to a large seafood and animal market, suggesting animal-to-person spread. However, a growing number of patients reportedly have not had exposure to animal markets, indicating person-to-person spread is occurring. At this time, it’s unclear how easily or sustainably this virus is spreading between people.
For more information about how it spreads and its symptoms, please visit BSCAI’s page on infectious disease and illness.
Commercial Cleaning Products for Coronavirus
While coronavirus is contagious, several cleaning products on the market help mitigate it. There are currently no tests measuring the efficacy of cleaning products against 2019-nCoV, but cleaning companies have a good idea of what products will work thanks to their past experiences with SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV (both of which are previously identified coronaviruses). This type of virus is easy to inactivate on non-porous surfaces.
Coronavirus is typically spread through hand contact. Experts recommend disinfecting any and all surfaces that are touched. This includes doorknobs, all surfaces and light switches, to name a few.
As for commercial cleaning products to fight coronavirus, experts recommend using an EPA-registered disinfectant that have an microbiocidal activity against pathogens. Each manufacturer has its own recommendations as to how long the product needs to come into contact with a surface to fully disinfect it. Most of these products are used on hard, non-porous surfaces.
Protocol of Commercial Cleaners in the Field
Beyond using the right cleaning products, experts recommend several ways for cleaners themselves to fight against coronavirus.
The CDC recommends wearing the proper personal protective equipment, including gloves and masks if applicable. For those working in specialized facilities—such as hospitals—the CDC recommends being proactive in telling cleaners about their potential exposure. BSCs should also encourage all janitorial workers to have proper hygiene techniques before, during and after their shift.
This is especially important for coronavirus. The World Health Organization recommends anyone who might come in contact with a contaminated area should wash their hands thoroughly for at least 30 seconds with an anti-bacterial soap. Or they should be encouraged to use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
Most importantly, if any janitorial staff are exhibiting signs of illness, they should not come to work and seek medical attention. Each state has differing medical leave laws when it comes to hourly workers, however some companies have pledged to offer sick leave specific to COVID-19. There are federal statutes that come into play as well, which is important to consider during this time.
Increased Cleaning Schedules During Coronavirus
During this time, it is wise to consider increasing the frequency of your cleaning schedule. Experts recommend putting a focus on disinfection versus spot cleaning. According to the National Environmental Agency of Singapore—which released a set of cleaning standards for public places in light of coronavirus—building service contractors who deal with high traffic public spaces should be extra diligent.
Some of its recommendations:
- Increasing the frequency of cleaning of areas with high contact points, such as toilets, lifts, refuse bins and hand rails, amongst others;
- Cleaning toilets regularly and paying attention to areas with high human contact, such as water taps, door/ towel/ cistern handles, seats and cover flaps, wash basins, grab poles, buttons and switches;
- Ensuring that refuse bins are covered at all times, cleared daily and there is no spillage; and
- Staff to practice good toilet habits, good personal hygiene and good food hygiene (for F&B outlets).
Cleaning schedules are extremely important at this time, and clients may be asking for janitorial staff to increase their hours and/or number of employees.
Experts say it is important to be proactive with your customers and talk through their increased needs. It’s also important to explain upfront any additional costs this could incur. Accordign to MarketWatch, hiring for new janitors has increased by 75% as many companies, workplaces, public areas and transporation services are doing due dilligence to increase cleanliness.
Educating Your Customers
Communication is key during this time. It’s extremely important for BSCs to communicate with their customers of any changes in their cleaning schedules and any recommendations that might fit their business. It’s also important for BSCs to note they’re prepared to handle disinfection. As for updates about coronavirus, experts recommend pointing customers to the CDC and WHO.
Representatives from Home Depo Pro, a BSCAI corporate partner, said they are prepared to meet an increase in demand for hand hygiene and surface disinfecting products. While facemask shortages have made headlines recently, wholesalers and retailers of commercial cleaning products are confident they can manage.
Several BSCAI partners have cleaning products designed to handle coronavirus infections. Please see below for more information about which of their products might best serve your needs.
3M Disinfection Guidelines
Kimberly-Clark Professional Handwashing Guide
If you are a BSCAI partner and would like your products listed here, please email Kate Jacobson at firstname.lastname@example.org.