Design and fixtures can minimize the problems that bacteria and viruses can pose. But also critical is good planning, training and follow-up with the cleaning staff.

Effective and efficient cleaning is not a haphazard process. It is a carefully designed process to ensure the removal of soil and contaminants from the environment, not the spread of it. Some key pointers to proper training of workers and cleaning techniques should include:

 • Provide both orientation training and follow-up training for all cleaning staff. Clearly check that the proper procedures are being used each and every day. Consistency is key.

 • Training should clearly demonstrate that cleaning procedures are part of the process of cleaning. In fact, all procedures, tasks, frequencies, equipment and chemicals are part of that process. Cleaning workers need to be taught to clean in such a manner that they never cause cross-contamination during the cleaning operation — cleaning from high to low, from in to out.

 • Provide realistic training on the use of personal protective equipment that will minimize injuries and protect employees and building occupants. The frequency of changing gloves and cleaning materials should be clearly outlined so that the staff does not carry bacteria and viruses from one room or facility to another.

 • Managers should outline clear expectations of what chemicals to use and how to use them. The training should meet or exceed all federal, state and local ordinances. Such training should indicate what chemicals to use, when and where. In a restroom, the use of a broad-spectrum germicidal disinfectant is critical and should be mixed and used in accordance with manufacturer’s directions. The training should also stress the dwell or kill time of the disinfectant.

 • Workers should be trained to assume that all surfaces are contaminated, even though the contamination of each surface could be different. Emphasis should be placed on the minimization of cross-contamination from one surface to another. For example, a cloth used to clean a toilet or urinal should not be used to clean a sink. Many cleaning operations are using color-coded microfiber cleaning cloths and chemicals to minimize cross-contamination and to ensure the right chemicals are used in the right place and at the right time.

 • The use of touchless cleaning equipment (pressure washers, spray-and-vac/squeegee, steam, and other such products) has simplified restroom cleaning. As these machines have become more compact and multi-functional, the proactive facilities manager will want to incorporate this equipment into their cleaning arsenal. These machines enable the staff to clean vertical and horizontal surfaces without touching anything, minimizing cross-contamination. The equipment also deep cleans grout lines and accesses hard-to-reach places much more efficiently and effectively than mops, cloths or brooms. This makes the cleaning worker’s job that much easier. Proper training in the use of equipment like this is essential and must be documented.

To provide a bacteria- and virus-free environment, it should be stressed that the cleaning of restrooms in not a one-time-a-day task. Instead, cleaning and touch-up cleaning should be provided depending on the frequency of use of the restrooms.

Restrooms are an important part of the facility and they need to be properly maintained. By having an applied knowledge of the types of bacteria and viruses in these areas, as well as the contamination and cross-contamination touch points, the facility cleaning manager will be able to implement an effective and efficient program for handling cleaning operations. 

ALAN S. BIGGER has worked in facilities management for more than 35 years. His experience includes leadership positions at The University of Notre Dame (Director of Building Services), Earlham College (Director of Facilities), The University of Texas Health Sciences Center, University of Missouri, the South Texas Hospital, the Ohio State University and the U.S. Air Force. Bigger has been involved with ACUBSS, IEHA and APPA, and now serves as the Executive Director of The Simon Institute.

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Techniques To Fight Restroom Germs