Hand of young man cleaning window in office

The spread of germs from one surface or object to another can occur frequently when performing janitorial tasks. But, effective cleaning and disinfection can reduce this cross-contamination, according to an article on the Infection Control Today website.

While most research on cross-contamination has been done in healthcare facilities, the same principles can be applied to most types of businesses.    

Contaminated mop heads and towels are common causes of cross-contamination, but janitorial worker’s gloves can also be problematic. Researchers have found that germs can survive on gloves and can be transferred to other surfaces during the cleaning process.

OSHA’s standards require the use of gloves to protect the hands of janitorial workers. But OSHA regulations don’t address cross-contamination issues or infection control.

The following suggested protocols are based on Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines: 

• Put on task-appropriate gloves before performing cleaning tasks and change them in the following situations:
    • When they become visibly soiled, torn or punctured
    • After cleaning areas with high concentrations of germs, such as restrooms or kitchens
    • When changing the color of the towel you’re using (with a color-coded microfiber towel systems)
    • When going from building to building or floor to floor

Hospital-based sterilization principles can be applied on a relative basis to the performance of janitorial tasks to reduce the likelihood of cross-contamination. They include:
• Cleaning should be performed from high to low areas
• Use no-touch systems for cleaning and disinfection when possible
• Use mopping systems that apply fresh cleaning solution with each pass
• Use color-coded microfiber towel systems
• Change towels, gloves, and supplies when they become visibly soiled or contaminated