In this article, industry manufacturers answer common questions asked by building service contractors.


In commercial office spaces, how often should building service contractors disinfect high-touch surfaces such as light switches, door knobs, computer keyboards, etc.?


The frequency of cleaning these areas all depends on the applier. It is recommended disinfecting high-touch surfaces at least once daily, but even more when employees are found to be sick with bacteria/viruses.

Robert Neitzel, director of operations, Big 3 Packaging, Philadelphia

In a commercial office space I would recommend disinfecting the public “high-touch” surfaces such as light switches and doorknobs every time the space is cleaned. Telephones and computer keyboards are more personal and might only be disinfected weekly; possible damage to the electronic componentry should be considered if the disinfectant solution is applied too heavily or too frequently.

John B. Everitt, president, Stearns Packaging Corp., Madison, Wis.

In general use, once per day. This frequency should be increased if a risk assessment determines that there is significant risk due to prevalence of illness (cold and flu season), frequency of contact by different people, or other factors that would increase the risk of person-to-surface-to-person transmission of pathogens.

Peter Teska, Americas portfolio lead for infection prevention, Diversey, Sturtevant, Wis.

Is a hospital-grade disinfectant needed in a commercial office? What level of disinfectant is sufficient?

No, a hospital-grade disinfectant is not needed in a commercial office because it exposes workers and janitors to unnecessary levels of pesticides on a daily basis. The level of disinfectant that is sufficient for a commercial office depends on its environment, the amount of traffic (high-touch areas), and the label of the desired product, which specifies what the disinfectant “kills.”

Robert Neitzel, director of operations, Big 3 Packaging, Philadelphia

The technical distinction with a hospital-grade disinfectant is its ability to kill pseudomonas aeruginosa. In addition, hospital disinfectants may have a larger and more specific list of organisms because of the exposure risks in their work environment.

Public awareness of specific pathogens such as CA-MRSA and H1N1 has triggered the demand for expanded kill-claim lists on commercial disinfectant labels. The differences between hospital-grade and commercial disinfectant labels are not substantial.

The sufficient level of disinfectant will always be the level stated on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-approved disinfectant product label.

John B. Everitt, president, Stearns Packaging Corp., Madison, Wis.

Healthcare professionals look for products that disinfect multiple surfaces quickly, without compromising on efficacy. Given how quickly things move in a healthcare environment, an ideal disinfecting product has claims to kill the most prevalent and hardest to kill microorganisms, such as C. difficile and norovirus. While hospitals are more prone to the toughest pathogens, offices are faced with bacteria and viruses and the pressure to keep staff and patrons safe from them including rhinovirus, influenza and norovirus.

While some disinfectants are specifically designed to be used in healthcare settings, there are other disinfectants that provide effective cleaning and disinfecting power on a variety of commercial surfaces, particularly when a commercial office is faced with an outbreak.

To avoid outbreak situations — particularly norovirus that has swept the nation in early 2012 — commercial offices should purchase and implement the use of disinfecting products that kill tough viruses and bacteria. The products are only as effective as the process; therefore, cleaning staff should pay attention to how long a product needs to dwell on a surface in order to kill the intended organisms. The faster the contact time, the better. It is important to choose a product that is registered as a disinfectant by the EPA and follow the product manufacturer’s instructions.
The numbers game: Consider the number of surfaces the staff is responsible for cleaning regularly in a commercial office, and how many people come in contact with those surfaces: conference tables, door handles, floors, restrooms, break rooms and more. Cleaning professionals are tasked with thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting specific surfaces during an eight-hour shift, and appreciate tools that help them complete that job efficiently and effectively. A disinfectant that cleans well can be used on wide-variety of surfaces and has short dwell times to eliminate germs, is a great one to consider for commercial offices.

Lynda Lurie, marketing manager, Clorox Professional Products Co., Oakland, Calif.

Hospital-grade disinfectants (vs. limited or general disinfectants) kill staph and pseudomonas. These products generally also meet the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen (BBP) standard. While pseudomonas is not much of a concern outside of healthcare settings, the BBP claim is important in decontaminating blood and body fluid spills. So choosing a limited or general disinfectant means carrying an additional disinfectant for blood spills and providing training on a second disinfectant.

Peter Teska, Americas portfolio lead for infection prevention, Diversey, Sturtevant, Wis.

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Choosing A Safer Disinfectant