Managers in charge of facilities for schools, businesses, healthcare clinics and other public locations often looking for more efficient and cost-effective ways to create a healthier environment for their employees and customers. Janitorial services are often one of the first things to be slashed when the budget gets tight, and can be costly to re-engage when more money comes in later. If you are struggling to balance the challenge of creating a healthy facility with budget demands, it’s important to look at the “best practices” for cleaning systems in general and look for ways to optimize the basics.
The basic steps for a sanitary environment are cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. Clean first to remove grease, oil, dirt, dust, etc. from all surfaces. The EPA’s list of approved disinfectants recommends as best practices that the surfaces to be disinfected be pre-cleaned, regardless of the disinfectant used. Cleaning products blend a variety of solvents with surfactants to optimize cleaning of organic, non-organic and soil combinations. These include water, alcohol, butyl and limonene to liquefy and dissolve soil into small particles so the surfactants can do their job. Cleaning is an important step in creating a surface environment conducive to sanitizing and disinfecting.
Sanitize second – apply a sanitizing agent as the next step of cleaning to reduce the residual microbial pathogens to a safe level. In a food service environment, sanitizing surfaces and utensils reduces the pathogens down to an acceptable level. It is important to prevent cross-contamination from other sources such as:
- Utensils and other equipment are not washed, rinsed, and sanitized between uses.
- Food-contact surfaces are wiped down rather than being washed, rinsed, and sanitized.
- Cloths for cleaning are not stored in a sanitizer solution between uses.
- Sanitizing solutions are not at the required levels to provide adequate sanitization.
Disinfect third. Dwell time is of paramount importance, and different solutions and pathogens have different dwell times. That is the amount of time the disinfecting agent must remain on the surface to achieve maximum antimicrobial effect. Dwell time is so important because once the disinfectant is wiped off its antimicrobial effect is gone.
For commonly-touched surfaces like push plates, handles, and faucets, SafeHandles products provide surfaces that resist cross contamination. Rather than transferring germs from one user to the next, SafeHandles continuously reduce the presence of pathogens as they arrive. When you consider the dwell time necessary for many disinfectants, installing SafeHandles where possible can help reduce janitorial overhead.
If you leave your cleaning program implementation to a private janitorial company, you may eliminate the liability for harm to your employees in the application process, but you still retain the potential liability when your employees, patients, or members fall ill, which just might happen if adequate dwell time has not been allowed in the disinfection process. For the janitorial company, time is money; for you, the health of those in your environment is money. It is imperative to utilize the basics of best practices in order to ensure the health of your staff or students, even when budgets get tight.