The COVID-19 pandemic has caused our habits to change, especially when it comes to maintaining cleanliness wherever we go. Now that restrictions are slowly lifting and many are returning to the office, everyone must learn how to disinfect the workplace properly.
You shouldn’t let your guard down just because the virus is not as prevalent as before in the news. The risk of catching an infection remains high, not just for COVID but also for other illnesses.
It is always better to practice proper disinfection methods when in your workplace, since these locations are often where most bacteria and viruses reside.
To ensure you stay healthy while at work, here are tips for disinfecting your workplace using suitable cleaning and sanitizing equipment:
Cleaning vs. Sanitizing vs. Disinfecting
Many people interchange these three terms, but they do not share the same meaning:
- Refers to removing soil, dirt, and other impurities from surfaces. Cleaning is done using a water mixed with either soap or detergent to reduce the number of bacteria and prevent the risk of infection.
- Aims to lower the number of bacteria to a safe level, often as judged by public health requirements. Sanitizing may involve both cleaning and disinfecting to try and reduce the risk of infection from surfaces and objects.
- Intends to kill bacteria and other microorganisms present on various objects and surfaces. Unlike cleaning, disinfection uses chemicals to eliminate microbes, though the process may not necessarily clean the surface. Like the above mentioned, disinfecting helps prevent the risk of disease.
Locations to Disinfect in the Workplace
When considering areas to focus on for disinfection, always include places where people gather the most, are publicly accessible, and where clients are met indoors. You should have these on your list:
- Waiting rooms
- Meeting and conference rooms
- Lunch rooms
- Staff rooms
- Examination rooms
- Reception areas
Now, you might wonder which exact items from these areas you should start disinfecting. Take a look around and try to see these most commonly touched objects and surfaces:
- Light switched
- Computer keyboards
- Computer mice
- Computer monitors
- Elevator buttons
- Desk tops
- Table tops
- Seats, arm-rests
- Faucet handles
- Toilet paper dispensers
- Toilet flush handles
- Bathroom stall latches
- Paper towel dispensers
- Soap dispensers
- Hot air hand dryers
Aside from the ones mentioned earlier, you should also consider disinfecting these surfaces where bacteria and viruses may propagate:
- Storage rooms
It would also help if you will clean and disinfect those visibly dirty or stained surfaces. If you are about to clean a surface stained with bodily fluids, use gloves, and other extra precautions to avoid making contact.
Solutions for Cleaning and Disinfecting
Always clean any object or surface before disinfecting since dirt and impurities may render your disinfectants ineffective. Start by using a detergent and water solution to eliminate unwanted grime and break up oil and grease.
We recommend using disinfectants containing ≥70% alcohol, chlorine or oxygen bleach, or quaternary ammonium compounds to kill bacteria on hard surfaces.
Health authorities also suggest using a sodium hypochlorite solution – or 1000 ppm bleach – on hard surfaces. Please note that disinfectants require specific contact times to be effective.
For routine disinfection in non-healthcare workplaces, a mixture of water and detergent is sufficient, though it may not eliminate COVID-19.
If you want to create your own disinfectant, try this chlorine bleach solution:
- Add ¼ cup of bleach to 1 gallon of water
- For smaller areas, add one tablespoon of bleach to 1 quart of water
- Use a cloth to apply the solution on a surface
- Let stand for 3-5 minutes
- Rinse with water
How to Properly Disinfect
The right method of disinfection may vary depending on the surface you are working on. Always remember to wash your hands for twenty seconds after each clean.
Wear the necessary protective equipment such as gloves, masks, and other PPEs, then carefully read instructions on every disinfecting product for safety.
You can use water and detergent to eliminate microbes and dirt to clean hard surfaces or areas where water cannot seep in. Hard surfaces may include light switches and desktops.
Disinfecting electronics and devices are different from decontaminating ordinary hard surfaces. For electronics, try placing a wipeable cover for easier cleaning. Also, read the manufacturer’s manual for cleaning the said devices effectively.
Soft surfaces include rugs, carpets, curtains, and padded chairs. To clean and disinfect them, you must:
- Clean the surface using soap, detergent, or other appropriate cleaning products.
- Vacuum these surfaces to get rid of dirt, grime, and other small impurities that may disrupt the efficiency of your disinfectant.
- Launder these items when possible. Use the right soap, set the warmest possible water setting, and dry each article completely.
Laundry items may refer to objects such as articles of clothing, towels, bedding, and linen. Though similar to soft surfaces, laundry objects are best washed in a washing machine.
- Use the right soap, set the water temperature to the highest setting possible, and dry each one entirely before setting it aside.
You can safely wash laundry items from a sick person along with other people’s laundry, but be careful when handling it to avoid catching any illness. You should also disinfect hampers or laundry baskets after each use.
Focus on disinfecting outdoor furniture like chairs, railings, grab bars and other surfaces made of metal or plastic. You should also not disinfect wooden surfaces (tables or benches).
Disinfection in Healthcare Workplaces
Disinfecting an ordinary office workplace takes time, but it is not as tedious as in medical settings. Since hospitals and clinics need to keep their patients safe from infections while dealing with illnesses out and about, they take extra precautionary steps to steer bacteria and viruses away.
Disinfecting healthcare workspaces, especially the tools and equipment, is no easy task, but one professional can deliver the job efficiently.
Sterile Processing technicians are in charge of the crucial role of decontaminating and sterilizing hundreds of medical instruments and equipment daily.