Both Gerba and Hicks say distributors should promote electrostatic sprayers for disinfecting during an infectious outbreak. The increased use of these devices during an outbreak makes perfect sense because electrostatic sprayers blanket entire objects with a charged and atomized liquid solution. They cover a lot of ground in little time.

"Rather than rifling at [an object], you're bombing," says Hicks. "I think [electrostatic sprayers] are one of the emerging technologies that is worth it for everyone to look at."

Customers, especially those who don't have an electrostatic spraying machine and cannot afford to purchase one, should be using the products and practices that best work in the facilities in which they clean. Hicks advises studying up on the way different facilities are used. That way, distributors and their customers can identify what needs to be targeted in their facility and with what product.

In a K-12 school, for example, custodial workers probably want to focus on the contact students are making in the classrooms. In his research of schools, Gerba routinely finds more fecal matter on desktops than on toilet seats.

"Any type of desktop or tabletop seems to be the most contaminated area because hands touch them all the time," says Gerba.

By no means do school restrooms deserve a pass, though. Gerba finds that students in 4th grade and below have really poor handwashing habits — something he attributes to a lack of care for personal hygiene prior to puberty. It's in these restrooms that custodians should be targeting countertops and anywhere the hands might touch.

Once research has identified what areas need more attention, it's up to janitorial workers to provide that attention. One of the best ways to do this is to increase cleaning frequencies, especially during cold and flu season.

Communicate to customers that night shifts should be used to perform deep cleaning on even more surfaces. This is a great time to employ electrostatic technology if it's available.

As for what chemistry janitors should be pointing at objects, Gerba advises starting with a hospital-grade disinfectant that will kill all the big viruses, like influenza, rhinovirus and norovirus. To accomplish this, he suggests using quats, chlorine and hydrogen peroxide — most common disinfectants will do, really.

Some customers are asked to clean and sanitize or disinfect using green products due to the fact that chemicals like quats and chlorine bleach tend to be harsher on the environment, as well as people — especially those with existing health issues, such as asthma. Wilcox is an advocate for these greener products and has a few favorites that she suggests customers be sold.

"I believe the best way to clean is with aqueous ozone and the best way to sanitize or disinfect is with hypochlorous acid," says Wilcox. "They are both on-site technology, so they are sustainable and reduce solid waste. They contain no fragrances or dyes to leave a residue behind and they are biodegradable. They do not reduce indoor air quality and are a neutral pH, so they do not bleach out the color of fabrics and can be used on soft surfaces."

No matter what, Wilcox advises those cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting facilities not to get overzealous with the use of product.

"Right now we want to disinfect, but not chemical bomb our houses and facilities. It isn't necessary," she says. "Coronavirus is easy to kill, so if you have good products and SOPs then you will be fine. The biggest thing to worry about right now is the spread of the virus, so observe all social distancing."

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