While rhinovirus is often spread through the air, it is also spread through contact with contaminated surfaces, which is why managers must train custodians to clean and disinfect high-touch points regularly.

“We target common areas, like kitchens and bathrooms, and we also hit the touch surfaces, like doorknobs, light switches and hand rails,” says Edward Vizvarie, director of facilities at Howard Center, a mental health agency based in Burlington, Vermont.

But Vizvarie also puts the onus on facility employees to clean shared electronics, such as touchscreens and keyboards.

“I bet you find more germs on those than in some bathrooms,” he says.

Every month Vizvarie conducts what he calls a “safety short” to educate staff on how to clean common items that might be overlooked, such as cell phones and water bottles.

When cleaning and disinfecting surfaces, custodians should use a disinfectant registered from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency with a rhinovirus kill claim. Additionally, Hicks recommends the use of microfiber to “capture the tiny viruses and hold them in the cloth until they’re laundered and released.”

At Fairchild Medical Center, custodians clean daily with a quaternary ammonia germicidal detergent that has a 10-minute dwell time, in conjunction with microfiber cloths on all horizontal surfaces, with increased focus on high-touch points. According to Thomas, custodians use one microfiber cloth to wipe down approximately 10 items before placing it in the soiled linen bag and using a new microfiber cloth. Staff are also provided with disinfecting wipes to wipe down phones, keyboards, and door handles in their work areas daily.

Adhering to the required dwell time is crucial for the disinfectant to work properly, but Thomas also ensures that her staff uses the proper technique when wiping down surfaces with a microfiber cloth.

“We teach the staff that it’s not just the germicide [doing the work],” she says. “You don’t just lightly wipe something. You have to use friction on the surface because friction takes care of a lot of the bacteria, as well.”

Thomas also warns custodians not to contaminate their cleaning solution.

“People tend to redip their cloth,” she says. “You should never do that. Disinfectant will only work if it’s clean, and you don’t put contaminants into it, otherwise you will need to change [the solution] after cleaning every room.”

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