Getting Back to Work in a Changed World
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world in a number of ways, including the way we define cleanliness. Tidy rooms and nice appearances are no longer enough. We have to protect ourselves, our employees, and our customers and clients from a highly contagious virus. It’s a physical problem that contains a large amount of mental and emotional stress.
As more and more people are transitioning back to the office, we have to rethink how we clean, disinfect, and protect our workplace environment. Employees and clients have to feel safe when they walk through our doors. And we have a responsibility to reassure them by being transparent about our best practices when it comes to office cleaning and sanitization. The first step we can take is to look at what we mean by a clean office.
Know the Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting
Using soap or detergent and water, cleaning removes dirt and other impurities from surfaces. It can also remove germs, but it should be noted that cleaning does not kill them. Rather, it reduces their number and makes the environment less hospitable to them. Disinfecting, on the other hand, uses chemicals to kill the germs on surfaces. This is often done with an EPA-registered disinfectant, chlorine, or bleach and reduces the chance for infection. However, just as cleaning doesn’t disinfect, disinfectants won’t necessarily clean or remove stains. Some products, Bioesque’s Botanical Disinfectant Solution, for example, can accomplish both tasks in one step.
The word “antimicrobial” means that a material kills or inhibits the growth of micro-organisms, or microbes, such as bacteria, fungi, and viruses. Disinfectants, for example, are a type of antimicrobial product. However, there are other types of antimicrobial products such as the fabric in hospital scrubs. The properties of these products provide protection against by creating an environment that inhibits their growth. For example, fabrics may be made of polyester or similar material and infused with substances that kill microbes. However, these products have not been proven to kill or slow the spread of coronavirus. The best way to reduce the spread of COVID-19 infections is to clean and disinfect all surfaces and remind people to wash their hands.
Bioesque Solutions to Clean, Protect, and Disinfect
Bioesque® Solutions is a pioneer in the development and distribution of naturally occurring, botanically based disinfectant and cleaning products. Bioesque® Solutions specializes in bringing the benefits of nature to address the demanding and ever-changing needs of commercial customers across various industries, including, health care, food service, janitorial and restoration. Powered by Thymox®, every Bioesque® Solutions product is designed to work together, harmoniously like in nature, to bring the future of disinfecting and cleaning to our customers today.
Having the Right Tools for the Job
Workdays lost to illness cost businesses millions of dollars every year. In order to maintain office hygiene and keep your workers healthy, it’s essential to have a good stock of office cleaning supplies on hand. You know you’re going to need some paper towels, trash bags, hand soap, and disinfecting wipes, but what else? While your needs will obviously vary depending on the size and type of your business, this checklist will serve as a solid guide for any small to medium-sized business looking to keep their office clean and their employees healthy.
Office Cleaning Supplies Checklist
Stay in touch with your office manager to make sure these basic supplies are always available for use. Having the right tools for the job is key in ensuring your office is clean, disinfected, and protected.
Build Out an Office Cleaning Schedule
Having a complete supply of basic cleaning supplies will do you no good if they’re not being used regularly. Design an office cleaning schedule based on your needs and assign tasks to make sure nothing is being missed. Some tasks such as emptying the trash, cleaning and sanitizing the bathroom, washing and putting away dishes in the breakroom, etc. will need to be done daily. Others like vacuuming or mopping the floors, wiping down the windows, or cleaning out the refrigerator may only need to be once a week. But by getting everything down on paper and making sure everyone is doing their part regularly, keeping a clean and healthy office is a cinch.
Getting On the Same Page
A recent article offered some tips for keeping an office clean, sanitary, and safe. One of those tips mentioned getting everyone on the same page when it comes to best practices for office cleanliness and safety. We’d like to go into that a little further here.
Learn Your High-Touch Surfaces and High-Traffic Areas
Start by going through your office one area at a time and note the traffic you expect, as well as the high-touch surfaces in each space. Office-wide, these are going to include:
- Light switches
- Computer monitors
- Keyboards and mice
- The backs and arms of chairs
Don’t forget high-touch spots in areas of transit like hallways, stairways, elevator banks, and reception areas:
- Push/pull surfaces
- Elevator buttons
- Coat racks and hangers
Pay particular attention to the items in your kitchen/breakroom and bathrooms:
- Sinks and faucets
- Coffee machine
- Toaster oven and microwave
- Towel dispensers
- Soap dispensers
- Toilet handles
- Stall doors and handles
- Changing tables
- Item dispensers
- Trash cans
Develop and Schedule a Plan of Action
Once you know your problem areas, it’s time to chart a course of action. If you have a building with a janitorial staff, have a meeting with them to decide the best way to handle all the tasks. If you have a smaller office with a few employees, delegate or divide the items amongst yourselves. Either way, make sure they’re regularly scheduled so nothing slips through the cracks. Posted schedules, daily checklists, weekly charts, etc. are all ways to help stay on top of what needs done. Each office’s needs will vary, but a daily cleaning of high-touch areas, along with intermittent deep cleaning (including carpets, upholstery, windows, etc.) will keep your working environment clean, disinfected, and protected.
Have a Contingency Plan
Even the most well-prepared offices are going to have to adjust to business and life occurrences. For example, a holiday party, stockholder and board meetings, conferences, etc. will all require some extra cleaning and disinfecting. So, too, will flu season and the beginning of the school year, a time when the common cold spreads rapidly through households. You also might want to consider step up the frequency if your community is experiencing an outbreak of some kind. Finally, have a contact tracing plan in place in the event of a COVID-19 outbreak. It will help mitigate some of the fallout and employees will feel much safer knowing there’s a course of action.
This is by no means an extensive list, and as we said above, each office will have a unique plan that best suits their needs. However, this list should serve as a good guide to start. Having a best practices plan in place leads to happy, healthy employees, fewer sick days, and increased productivity. In short, it’s just good business.
Clean, Protect, and Disinfect Your Office
The past year has caused a lot of chaos and uncertainty, but things are finally starting to open back up. However, we’re not completely out of the woods yet. While we’ve learned how to keep our home environments safe during the coronavirus pandemic, reopening offices and business add a new wrinkle to things. We’re all ready to get back to work, but how do we do so while keeping our employees and clients safe from COVID-19? These five tips for cleaning and disinfecting your workplace will go a long way in protecting your office and giving you some peace of mind.
Have the Right Tools for the Job
Before returning to your workplace, stock up on cleaning supplies. Furthermore, make sure to include EPA-registered disinfectants to ensure your space stays sanitized. Bioesque’s Botanical Disinfectant Solution disinfects as it cleans, includes a 55-second kill-time against SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), and is made from naturally derived ingredients, free from harsh chemicals.
Get Everyone on the Same Page
If you have any office protocols regarding best practices, inform everyone via team meetings and posted signs. Make sure everyone knows they need to chip in by keeping their own areas clean and disinfected. They should also be keeping traffic in their space as limited as possible. For example, before the janitorial staff comes around, leave trash cans near the office door or in front of the desk to minimize contact. Additionally, carry disinfectant wipes on trips to the restroom for the toilet and sink to ensure clean surfaces before and after use. If everyone is doing their part, a clean and sanitary office becomes that much easier.
Make It Routine
Wiping your desk down once in a while when they look like they need it just isn’t going to cut it anymore. You have to make sure to disinfect your desk at least once a day – more if you’re regularly seeing clients there. Consider setting a reminder on your phone to ensure cleaning right when you get to work or before you leave.
Know the Office Hotspots
The CDC has a list of high-touch surfaces we should all keep in mind. These include tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, and more. Additionally, think about the things you touch over the course of a typical workday. Computer monitors, keyboards, and mice, water coolers, coffee machines – the list could expand quite a bit, depending on your office environment. When it comes to cleaning, it’s better to do too much than too little.
Things are getting better, but it will be some time before workspaces will look the way they did before COVID-19. Having a plan and the proper supplies will give workers, clients, and management alike some peace of mind. Everyone can take heart knowing they’re doing their part to keep themselves and everyone else healthy. This translates to a safe and positive work environment and that’s something we can all feel good about.
Save Money, Resources, and Precious Learning Time
According to ISSA, the International Sanitary Supply Association, 20 million school days are lost each year due to the common cold. Students average 4.5 absent days per year while teachers average 5.3. This leads to more than $25 billion lost each year. With numbers like these, creating a cleaning plan for your school is absolutely essential.
Divide and Conquer
Talk a walk through your building and start assigning each area into a section and keep room types in mind as you go. For example, classrooms will all fall under one uniform cleaning plan. The same goes for bathrooms, hallways, entrances, etc. Continue through the school until every area is accounted for. This will help you streamline the process and budget accordingly.
Set a Schedule
Once you’ve got your areas sectioned off, start assigning a cleaning schedule. Classrooms will need to be cleaned daily while require several cleanings per day. Specialized activity rooms can get a deep cleaning after each use. Getting each area down on paper with regularly allotted times will make sure nothing is slipping through the cracks.
Staff should make sure bathrooms, kitchens, and common areas are being disinfected several times a day. An all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant can save a lot of time here. Additionally, teachers should be using disinfecting wipes on surfaces in the classroom such as door handles, light switches, and pencil sharpeners, as well as tools for activities and other shared items. Make sure each classroom is stocked with enough supplies for everyday use.
Remind Everyone It’s a Team Effort
Even the best-designed plans need a team to execute if they’re to work. Ensure that everyone from teachers and staff to students is on the same page when it comes to keeping their school clean. Station trash and recycling bins throughout the school and encourage students to use them. Post signs in the teachers’ lounge to make sure everyone is picking up after themselves. Schools are notoriously difficult to keep clean but with the proper planning and everyone pitching in, we can all stay clean, healthy, and happy.
Essential for the Health of Students and Educators
With hundreds of students plus a full staff of educators, administrators, and more, schools are high-traffic areas. And with a lot of traffic comes a lot of germs. As a result, it’s essential for the health of students and educators to keep classrooms clean, disinfected, and safe.
The Importance of Keeping Our Classrooms Clean
With so many children coming from so many different environments into a close area like a classroom, schools quickly become a fertile hotbed for germs. Studies show that kindergarteners get about 12 colds per year, while adolescents have 2 to 4. Furthermore, the school year runs concurrently with cold season – from September to March. This all adds up to almost 60 million missed days of school per year. That’s 60 million days are at home recovering instead of at school learning, growing, and building relationships with lifelong friends.
It’s crucial, then, to start encouraging healthy habits at a young age. Poor or lax hygiene is a major contributor to the spread of pathogens, viruses, and bacteria and it can come in many forms. Educating kids about germs and teaching them best practices concerning cleanliness can drastically reduce the spread of illness and have positive effects on overall health.
Start With the Hands
Teach kids how to wash their hands properly with soap and water and make it fun by having them sing their ABCs twice while doing it. This ensures they’re scrubbing for the right amount of time.
Stock Up and Use Often
Make sure your classroom is well-supplied with a good all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant like Bioesque’s Botanical Disinfectant Solution. Use it to clean and disinfect trouble areas like desks, door handles, and shared supplies several times a day.
Get Kids on the Same Page
Take some time to make sure students know what germs are, what they can do, and how they can spread. In a classroom demonstration, cover a couple students’ hands with glitter and have them shake hands with other students to give them a visual idea of how quickly and easily germs can spread through the classroom.
The “Dracula Sneeze”
We want children to cover their mouths when they sneeze or cough but doing so into bare hands is terrible hygiene. Have them sneeze or cough into their elbow – like a vampire hiding in a cape – in order to help reduce the spread of germs.
When students are practicing good hygiene and helping to keep the classroom clean, be sure to praise their good behavior. They’re much more likely to make it a habit.
Get Parents Involved
Specifically, encourage them to keep their child home in the event of an illness. It helps the child recover more quickly and helps to keep the other students safe and healthy.
To make sure our children get the chance to learn and grow, we need to make sure our schools are clean, disinfected, and safe. It takes a little bit of extra work, but with the right knowledge, the right habits, and the right cleaning and disinfecting supplies, we can all chip in and do our part to ensure our classrooms are healthy and productive.
Identifying Problem Areas in the Classroom
The custodial staff does a wonderful job of keeping our schools clean, but even the best can only do so much. Keeping a school free of germs is a constant struggle that requires everyone to pitch in. Teachers can help keep students healthy by identifying problem areas in the classroom and taking a few extra steps to clean and disinfect them.
The Pencil Sharpener
One item that’s guaranteed to get a number of touches from multiple hands throughout the day is the pencil sharpener. Furthermore, if you don’t have an in-classroom sink, it’s a safe bet that it will get dirty quickly. In fact, it might be the number one germiest spot in the classroom.
How to Handle It
Put personal hand-held pencil sharpeners on the list of supplies that each child should bring in and make sure students know to keep track of theirs and not lend it out. You may also want to think about removing that old wall-mounted crank sharpener and a keep a few hand-helds in your desk. You can lend them out one a time and wipe down with a cleaner and disinfectant after each use.
Bean Bag Chairs and Sofas
In a perfect world, these are great for story-time, along with rugs, stuffed animals, etc. However, soft items like these are also great for trapping and holding pathogens like dust, pollen, and pet dander from kids’ clothes, increasing the likelihood of infection for children with allergies and asthma.
How to Handle It
The best way to keep the pathogen levels in your classroom low is by reducing the objects that attract them. Especially, those objects that can’t be easily cleaned and disinfected, like soft fabric items. If you want a healthier classroom, your best move is to remove as many of these items as possible.
The Classroom Sink
One would think that the sink would be one of the cleanest places in the classroom. After all, there’s soap, there’s water, and there’s hand washing. How dirty could it be? Well, add children to the mix and the answer is “very.” Kids don’t always follow best practices when it comes to hand washing. As a result, germs collect around the tap handles, soap and paper towel dispensers, and the counter around the sink.
How to Handle It
Make sure kids learn proper hand washing protocol by holding a classroom demonstration: use soap and scrub for several seconds, rinse and dry thoroughly, use elbows or backs of the hands on dispensers when possible, etc. Follow it up by posting a chart above the sink detailing the same as a reminder. Additionally, make sure your classroom is stocked with an all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant and wipe down the area several times each day.
Keep an Eye on Common Areas
Areas like desktops, counters, and tables always have children around them and door handles, door frames, books, and supply boxes see a lot of hands throughout the day. These items need to be cleaned and disinfected frequently, but with so many students touching them so often, harsh chemicals are out of the question.
How to Handle It
Regular cleaning and disinfecting with an environmentally safe, all-purpose product like Bioesque’s Botanical Disinfectant Solution will handle both dirt and germs and ensure safer surfaces for students.
Additional Tips for a Cleaner Classroom
Have the Right Supplies
Having a clean classroom starts with having the right supplies and ensuring you have enough for the entire year. In addition to having an all-purpose cleaner and disinfectant on hand, keep a stock of disinfecting wipes, hand sanitizers, and tissues and make sure the students know where they are.
Get Students on the Same Page
Like we mentioned above, make sure your students know the best practices when it comes to washing hands and encourage them to do it often: after the restroom, meals and snacks, classroom activities, and sharing items with others. Additionally, teach them the “vampire sneeze/cough:” always in the crook of an arm, never into bare hands.
Look Out for Sick Students
If one of your students is feeling unwell, sneezing and coughing, or showing other signs of illness, send them home if necessary. It will help them recover faster and will protect the rest of your students.
Be Aware of Your Trouble Spots!
Making sure kids and their learning environments stay clean and healthy can be a difficult task. With so many bodies in such close quarters, schools can be hotbeds of germs and pathogens, and illness can sweep through a classroom quickly, leading to missed days. Children and teachers should be aware of the trouble spots at school, maintain best practices to help prevent the spread of germs, and have the right supplies for the job.
The Bathroom Door
One would think that school bathrooms would be full of germs. As staff cleans the restrooms regularly, though, this is not the case. However, the bathroom door is another matter. Kids are notoriously forgetful about washing their hands, particularly after using the restroom. And those hands always touch the door.
Lunch Boxes and Cafeteria Trays
Lunch boxes and cafeteria trays are constantly being touched by both hands and food. This makes them fertile breeding grounds for germs and pathogens. Furthermore, lunch boxes can go days without a complete cleaning while cafeteria trays don’t get a regular and thorough wipe-down between meals.
Children spend most of their time at their desks. As a result, desks are in constant contact with hands, sneezes, coughs, gum, lunchroom leftovers, recess dirt…the list goes on.
Classrooms often have boxes full of such supplies as scissors, markers, crayons, and glue that get passed around from day to day. These individual items rarely, if ever get cleaned. However, research shows that the classroom item with the highest concentration of germs is the pencil sharpener. It’s something that almost everyone touches, and without a sink nearby, the hands that touch it are usually at least a little dirty.
The handles and basins of drinking fountains are usually cleaned as often as the restroom. However, the spigot isn’t, and children often put their mouths directly on it. It’s essential to teach kids to not touch the spigot and let the water run for a few seconds before drinking it.
Best Practices for Children and Staff
Obviously, some of these places are going unavoidable. Even the most dedicated staff can’t be expected to clean and disinfect each individual crayon. Therefore, we need to teach kids the importance of washing their hands with an antibacterial soap frequently throughout the day. Teachers and staff can do their part by cleaning and disinfecting frequently with an all-purpose cleaner/disinfectant like Bioesque’s Botanical Disinfectant Solution.