Disinfecting best practices include proper dilution, appropriate tool use and safety considerations. That means managers should not only be educating staff about the differences between cleaners, sanitizers and disinfectants, but they should also be making sure protocol is being followed.

Manufacturers recommend departments use dilution control systems. These wall-mounted systems are one of the easiest ways to ensure the proper ratio of chemical to water is being used every time.

Workers should know how ratios work, and the differences in dilution between the containers they use. For instance, custodial staffs should be trained to understand that not as much chemical will go into a spray bottle as will be put into a mop bucket. Managers can guarantee this by training workers on the dilution control system, how it works and how to change the dials on the device to reflect the cleaning needs.

In departments where dilution systems are not being used, distributors recommend custodial managers supply staff with ready-to-use or pre-packaged chemical products.

“Ready-to-use products are great on high-touch surfaces,” says Rothstein. “The ready-to-use chemical is a very effective way to guarantee workers are using the proper dilution to clean and disinfect. Plus, these products can be very convenient and can save on worker productivity.”

Using the proper tools — such as personal protective equipment and color-coded cloths or disposable paper towels — for the job is also very important, because it not only improves efficacy but it reduces the chances of cross-contamination.

Know Your Occupants

With so many chemicals on the market, the decision-making process involves knowledge of the type of surfaces that need to be cleaned, as well as the type of occupants in a facility.

“It’s important to understand what the product will and won’t kill and what the efficacy is. Managers should choose products based on the application,” says Rothstein. “For example, a hospital will use one type of disinfectant and a vet clinic will most likely use a different one — one that combats dangerous and contagious viral infections such as parvovirus.”

Also, managers should be aware that some infection threats may not be communicated. In a hospital, for example, HIPAA laws might prevent facilities from releasing information about the types of illnesses or viruses occupants are suffering. Custodial departments should anticipate that certain viruses and bacteria may be present, and clean accordingly.

The rules can vary drastically, depending on what type of facility is being serviced, Rothstein says. Some facilities, like schools and government institutions, are subject to strict government regulations that dictate the types of cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting products to be used.

“When you evaluate your cleaning program, you need to understand all the variables in the equation,” he says. 

LISA RIDGELY is a freelance writer based in Milwaukee, Wis.

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