Implementing an effective post-pandemic cleaning schedule

Business Insights

It is no understatement to say that COVID-19 changed the business world’s relationship with infection control management.

The impact of global pandemic meant that we have been forced to re-evaluate how we manage transmissible infections, and the cost to business of large-scale staff absence or reduction in operations.

Now that the Government has advised the lifting of restrictions on 19th July 2021, and that measures such as masks are now a personal choice rather than legal instruction, it falls to business owners to manage the new guidelines, which means finding a balance between the pandemic-level, full-scale approach and the temptation to return to pre-pandemic behaviour.

COVID-19 obligated businesses to review how cleaning is prioritised, as a key line of defence against contagions, as well as the frequency, effectiveness and attention to detail of their cleaning schedules and the products used. These factors can be instrumental in how smoothly a business navigates the reopening of workspaces.

There are steps that you can take as a business owner, to help you to implement your best cleaning regime.

Step one: Assessing your space

With a huge variation in business spaces, the first step to implementing a cleaning schedule is to plan method and frequency by area.

  • Size and function – washrooms and kitchen have distinctive fittings and cleaning requirements, compared with offices or manufacturing areas. Areas should be plotted out separately, identifying which types of cleaning will be required and when.

  • Footfall and traffic – rooms with the most public usage will require daily cleaning, compared with those used infrequently (such as board rooms) which may only require cleaning after use.

  • Risk – The Journal of Hospital Infections reports that COVID and other transmissible contaminants can remain on surfaces for up to nine days, so it is essential that high-risk areas, such as touchpoints (door handles, light switches etc) are regularly decontaminated to avoid the transfer of germs).

Step two: Training your people

Whether directly employing cleaning operatives or allocating cleaning responsibilities to your current staff, it is paramount that they have received appropriate training and are familiar with Health & Safety legislation. As a minimum, staff should be trained on PPE awareness, COSHH and up-to-date cleaning methodology (such as BICSc colour coding guidelines). This ensures that your team delivers the most effective and efficient cleaning.

Step three: The right tools

Increased cleaning commitments calls for full review of the products and equipment used. Whilst it’s tempting to use this area to deliver a cost-saving, ineffective cleaning products can render your efforts counter-productive, spreading debris and residual particles across surfaces.

  • Chemicals – it is worth investing in virucidal products, which offer reassurance against illnesses such as influenzas, MRSA and e-coli. Be sure to choose a supplier who provides you with a full Safety Data Sheet detailing safe usage and disposal, along with any risks and treatment.

  • Disposable vs reusable – whilst using disposable cloths eliminates the risk of cross-contamination across surfaces (with safe disposal), there are negative environmental factors associated. Cleaning this way can also often be more costly than laundering reusable options such as microfibre. Reusable cloths and mopping systems, if laundered, must be washed at an appropriate temperature to sanitise them for reuse, and these should be only be used consistently within the same areas.

Step four: Initial Deep Clean

Prior to a full return to work, it is prudent to carry out a full deep clean of your premises, which will bring the areas back to a sanitised level - safe for your staff and service users - and make maintaining your cleaning schedule that much easier.

DIY or Outsource?

Implementing an effective cleaning schedule for a safe return to work can be time-intensive, resulting in many opting to outsource this task. Whilst initially appearing to be more expensive than inhouse management, it can offer value in freeing up management from creating and monitoring the cleaning schedules, and peace of mind of having training, Health & Safety compliance and industry-leading equipment built in. Commercial cleaning companies have access to quality equipment, such as decontamination fogging machines, which are cost-prohibitive and complicated to hire and use.

Whether you choose to manage your own cleaning schedule or outsource it, we can all agree that effective cleaning and a safe return to work go hand-in-hand, and it is worth the time and financial investment it takes to make sure you are getting it right, for everyone.

By Danielle Tynan, Marketing & Media Manager at TCMS (Midlands) Ltd – Commercial Cleaning Specialists.