Bearded man smiles

Many people think I’ve become a germaphobe ever since I started writing for Sanitary Maintenance. To some extent, they have a point. I certainly wash my hands more often than I ever did before. I never travel without hand sanitizer. And, I’m certainly aware every time I touch my eyes and mouth.  

However, I’d argue that it’s inevitable. When you are constantly hearing there is more fecal matter on your smartphone than the toilet seat, or that even an ice machine can be a source of cross-contamination, it’s quite easy to become more germ conscious. 

There are those who scoff and say they’ve survived just fine with their lack of hand hygiene, or that “whatever doesn’t kill them, makes them stronger.” And for most people, it’s actually true. But during a seminar at Interclean in Amsterdam, I was reminded of the sobering reality that germ transmission can be very serious. Patients in hospitals. School children. Elderly residents in nursing homes. Office workers with compromised immune systems. These people can’t afford to have other individuals, commonly touched objects or surfaces be a source of contamination. 

Every year in the United States, 99,000 people die from a healthcare associated infection. Of course, hospitals aren’t the only concern. Every facility can be a source of infection. For example, 35 percent of C. diff cases are considered community acquired. And don’t forget, we are just coming out of the worst flu season in years. 

But cleaning can make a difference. The infection control products you sell and procedures you teach your clients are critical. Proper disinfecting reduces the spread of viruses by 80 to 90 percent. Encourage customers to provide hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes to occupants. Make sure clients are ensuring restroom dispensers are well-stocked to promote hand washing. 

We don’t have to become germaphobes to reduce the spread of infection, but we do need to be aware of how germs spread, practice better hand hygiene and promote the value of cleaning.