With flu officially reaching epidemic proportions in the U.S. in early January, ITW Professional Brands reminds cleaning professionals that they can make important contributions to slow the spread of the virus.

“According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were flu deaths reported in 122 U.S. cities and it’s a flu that’s making people sicker than previous strains,” said ITW Professional Brands Director of Sales and Marketing Rich Bucher. “Professional cleaners play a significant role in the fight against this virus.  Cleaners must be vigilant in cleaning and disinfecting public spaces to prevent the spread of influenza.”

Cleaning professionals are reminded to:

1) Disinfect surfaces in high-traffic areas: To reduce the spread of viruses, ensure that high-touch surfaces such as door handles, desks, keyboards and phones are disinfected regularly. Use a true disinfectant, at the proper dilution and dwell time, and increase the cleaning frequencies on high-touch surfaces during the flu season to protect guests and staff against infection.

2) Deep clean restrooms: Whether it’s in a facility or in a food-service setting, the buildup of harmful microorganisms in restrooms can easily transfer to a person’s hands and cause illness. Thoroughly disinfect restroom surfaces, deep clean in all corners and disinfect grout lines, walls, sinks, faucets and toilets.

3) Know the difference between cleaning and disinfecting: Cleaning removes visible soil, dirt, stains and other debris from surface, while disinfecting destroys viruses, bacteria, germs and other harmful microorganisms. Focusing on disinfecting during times of elevated illness transmission is important in controlling the spread of viruses.

4) Encourage the use of pre-moistened wipes in break rooms: Providing pre-moistened wipes in break rooms and other areas of a building reduces the chance of cross-contamination in areas where employees gather each day.

5) Promote clean hands: Encouraging frequent hand washing is the single-most effective method for reducing the spread of the flu among guests and employees. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based gel sanitizers and pre-moistened hand sanitizing wipes are good options.  Pre-moistened wipes also offer the added benefit of removing soil-attracting biofilm from hands.

In addition to getting a flu shot, the CDC also recommends people to avoid close contact with others who are sick, cover their nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, and stay home from work after contracting the flu to prevent its spread on the job.  For more flu-stopping tips, click here.