The steps that are needed to rid an object and facility of viruses are straightforward and easy to understand — clean, then disinfect or sanitize. Still, many people who work in the commercial cleaning industry have a tough time getting this routine down. Should they finally carry out the process correctly using the right products, these professionals will help control the spread of COVID-19, as well as other outbreaks in the future.

"People act like they’re one in the same — disinfecting and cleaning," says Darrel Hicks, principle at Darrel Hicks, LLC and the author of Infection Prevention for Dummies. "But the Centers For Disease Control And Prevention and Environmental Protection Agency recommend it as a two-step process."

Many people make the mistake of applying disinfectant to a surface without cleaning it first. Experts agree that doing things this way is essentially pointless. Teach customers that the purpose of cleaning is to remove soil from a surface. When disinfectant is sprayed onto the soil that has been left to sit, progress is minimal.

Regardless of what the janitorial staff is trying to protect building occupants against, the proper cleaning and disinfecting process should start with the removal of soil. Some consider this first step to be the most important, as experts say it removes at least 90 percent of the soil on surfaces.

Once the vital cleaning step has been concluded, instruct customers to move onto the step of disinfecting by targeting high-touch surfaces with an appropriate chemistry. In restrooms, workers should target door handles, the entire sink area, toilet seat lids, the levers on toilets, urinals and paper towel dispensers, and the handles used to open and close stalls. Breakroom cleaning should target spaces such as door handles, buttons on the microwave and water cooler, refrigerator handles, sink handles — everything that’s touched by hands.

The barebones cleaning and disinfecting methods used everyday are the same as the most basic methods used during an infectious outbreak. But to provide more comprehensive coverage, customers will want to clean and disinfect more areas, more frequently using more tools.

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