How to Disinfect your Office Post- COVID-19

How should you prepare your offices once COVID 19 ends?

With the impact COVID-19 is leaving behind, businesses are preparing for the next phase. Some states are already slowly lifting restrictions one by one so it’s only a matter of time before everything is back to the ‘new normal’. Since the pandemic is still far from over, it’s always better to be cautious of your surroundings. With no vaccine in existence, ‘prevention is better than cure’ should be everyone’s motto. 

Before the lockdowns, plenty of organizations already transitioned to remote work, but some services and industries are incapable of such shifts thus needed to either stop operations completely or lay people off temporarily. While getting back to the office is not entirely impossible once constraints have been lifted, it certainly won’t be an easy move with the spread still active and ongoing. As a cleaning service expert, let me share these five steps on how to successfully disinfect your office before you and your employees can work back in the office:

1. Wear Protective Gear

Cleaners are considered modern heroes and it’s not only recommended but it’s their legal right to work in safe environments. Before any cleaning procedure, especially at this time, it is advised to wear protective gear. Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) which covers and protects all parts of the body from harnessing any kind of virus transmission is considered mandatory especially when it comes to disinfecting any area. 

Here is some equipment that you ought to use:

  • N95 face mask, surgical mask or cloth mask
  • Safety goggles or face shield or use both
  • Latex or nitrile gloves
  • Fluid-resistant apron or protective overall
  • Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) safety boots or footwear plastic cover

Make sure to let your cleaners keep this safety equipment on them until the disinfection process is done. While there are some reusable equipment, it’s advisable to throw them all away to avoid passing on unseen germs, viruses, and bacteria. Observe proper disposal of any junk and hazardous waste. Seal the trash bag with a knot and handle it carefully. If possible, let your building managers know about them so everyone is aware of the disinfection that took place. 

2. Prepare a Disinfectant Solution

Considering that virus is a tough cookie, CDC recommends using an alcohol-based solution ranging from 60% to 90% as anything less than 50% is ineffective in disabling some viruses and bacteria. With a 70% solution disinfectant, it could prevent viruses from spreading. Should an alcohol-based solution be not available, it is recommended to use a solution of soapy water. Contrary to what people might say, soap is highly effective in stopping viruses and bacteria from contaminating. To explain further, a virus has genetic material enveloped in a shell of fat and that fat can easily be broken with proper washing and makes it ineffective to function. After applying soapy water, wipe down the damp surfaces with an absorbent fabric.

To make your DIY soapy water:

  • Fill the bucket or pail with ten (10) liters of water using a bottle that can be used to measure its volume. 
  • Mix two (2) and a half (1/2) tablespoons of powdered soap or five (5) tablespoons of concentrated liquid soap with ten (10) liters of water. 
  • Use a rod or stick to stir until ingredients dissolve. 
  • Submerge a piece of cloth into the solution then squeeze out the excess soapy water. 
  • Apply the solution to desired surfaces especially to those that are frequently touched. Wipe the damp surface with a dry cloth. 

If you are using an alcohol-based solution, simply transfer the solution in a bottle and spray it on the surface. The alcohol-based solution evaporates quickly, but you can easily wipe it down if there is excess moisture.

3. Focus on Disinfecting Frequently-Touched Surfaces

With so many people touching commonly used spaces, there is a higher risk of viruses remaining on those surfaces and could plausibly disseminate further. Some of these conveniently unavoidable surfaces are:

  • Door knobs, drawer, faucet, and refrigerator handles.
  • Computer peripherals and parts (keyboard, mouse, headset, monitor, CPU buttons)
  • Chair armrest and adjustment handles
  • Tables and countertops
  • Coffee maker, condiment jar and scoops
  • Water dispenser lever
  • Microwave oven and toaster
  • Light switches and remote control switches

Let your cleaners know that you want them to eagerly clean these surfaces to avoid germs resurfacing. However, make sure not to apply too much disinfectant on the electronics as it may damage the circuitry or cause internal corrosion. For these sensitive devices, apply an ample amount of disinfectant solution so it evaporates quickly and the equipment won’t break.

4. Decrease Humidity in the Office

Studies have proved during the summer season influenza and cold infections skyrocket due to various reasons but one of them is because warm, humid weather can make it arduous for respiratory droplets to spread viruses. The Director of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Pennsylvania State University has mentioned that “The droplets that carry viruses do not stay suspended in the humid air as long, and the warmer temperatures lead to more rapid virus degradation”. While it’s a no brainer that our immune system is the best shield to this virus, the use of a humidifier can help reduce our exposure to it. If you have the budget, try investing in humidifiers to help decrease humidity. If you don’t have enough resources at this time, ensure that there are proper ventilation and air circulation. As a bonus, you can also improve the ambiance of the workplace by clearing out unwanted scents

5. Schedule the Next Disinfection Session

Sadly, viruses do not go away after one cleaning. Keep a strict schedule of regular cleaning and disinfecting. In addition to that, dust and other pollutants are unavoidable so a healthy routine is needed to maximize the cleanliness of an area. Most companies hire efficient cleaning professionals, have the proper tools, and undergo training to ensure that their service is of the utmost quality.

No doubt, it’s going to take an extra amount of effort to maintain the cleanliness of your office. If you’re able to train and provide for your cleaners and employees in such a short time, please make sure that everything is suitably prepared in advance. If not, consider relying on cleaning services to take care of your workplace. Investing in cleaning professional services may be an additional cost (though sometimes it’s not) but the rewards are irreplaceable as you protect your staff and help frontliners by lessening the chances of a possible spread.