How to Disinfect Properly, So You and Your Clients Are Safe After Re-opening
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May 1,2020 at 8:40PM UTC
For the small business owner, the question has come: to open for business or not to open for business. If you run a brick and mortar shop or other business, the decision on when and how to open is essential.
Out of all the information out there about COVID-19 and the various guidelines for opening, from limiting the number of people inside to social distancing, one thing may not have gotten much attention.
That is disinfecting your workspace.
Cleaners vs. Disinfectants
Before you spray something all over the premises, check the label. Does it say it is a disinfectant, or is it labeled as a cleaner? There is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting.
Cleaning is the removal of dirt, germs, and impurities from surfaces. You can clean with simple soap and water solutions physically to remove germs from surfaces. However, cleaning does not necessarily kill germs.
Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces and objects. To disinfect, you need a bleach solution or other product explicitly labeled as a disinfectant. Also, before you can adequately disinfect a surface, you need to clean it. If you spray disinfectant on a blob of something on the counter, then wipe it off, the area under the blob is still not disinfected.
The Difference in “Bleaches”
Before making a solution of bleach and water for disinfecting purposes, check the label on the bleach bottle. Does it say something like "non-splash" or "color-safe"? That is not actual bleach. (See https://www.cdc.gov/flu/school/cleaning.htm)
• Color-safe bleach contains no sodium hypochlorite, the active ingredient in so-called chlorine bleach. Instead, it uses hydrogen peroxide as a gentle whitener to maintain color on fabrics.
• Non-splash bleach does contain sodium hypochlorite, but not in a percentage high enough to effectively kill germs.
• Regular bleach, also called chlorine bleach, contains the acceptable concentration of sodium hypochlorite for killing germs and disinfecting surfaces from hard to soft.
If not using bleach, make sure the product you have is labeled a disinfectant if you expect it to kill germs, including COVID-19.
Use Products Properly - Read the Label
Read the label of any product you use before you pop the top or spray away. Also, if someone else is doing your cleaning and disinfecting, show them how to use the products or ask them to explain what they are using to you (in the case of a cleaning service).
Be careful with products labeled for industrial or commercial use. If it’s labeled hospital-grade, it may require special preparation and equipment to use. Some of the contents can be toxic, even when diluted. In fact, take care with anything that is labeled germicidal. Also, don’t mix products unless the labels say you can.
Never use anything labeled CORROSIVE or DANGER unless you are an expert in its use, and it is appropriate for your need. Most businesses don't need anything that strong.
And never, never mix chlorine bleach and ammonia. It forms a deadly gas.
How to Clean and Disinfect
First, clean surfaces and items that are visibly soiled. Remove any spills, then clean and disinfect.
Clean frequently touched surfaces. Take note of everything you handle throughout the course of a day. Your phone, tablet, computer, countertops, faucet handles, and anything else you touch often should be disinfected more than once during the day.
Don’t forget to disinfect doors, door handles, walls, windows, and other structures where people tend to put their hands. Walls and doors are also handy surfaces for sneeze droplets to land.
Wash large surfaces with a general household cleaner to remove dirt and germs, then rinse with clean water. Follow that with disinfectant.
Here’s a tip about using disinfectant: typically, it must remain on the surface for a period of time to be completely effective. So don’t spray and wipe. Read the label. Spray the product onto the surface and let it sit or dry for the prescribed amount of time.
Fabrics may be laundered. Most washing machines and dryers disinfect pretty thoroughly. Small items may be able to be sanitized in a dishwasher, such as small plastic toys.
Pay Attention to Hygiene
Continue to wash your hands frequently, for 20 seconds, don’t forget. Wash before starting work, after touching surfaces or skin to skin contact with an individual (whether or not you think they are sick), after toileting, and before leaving for the day. Wash again when you reach home.
Try to find ways to keep social distance between you and your customers or clients. Plan ways to help your clients remain distant from each other. Follow the guidelines put forth by your state and local government. And while it’s frustrating being in lockdown, sheltering place, or being in quarantine, try to remember the idea is to keep everyone healthy.
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