The tripledemic has forced a revaluation of our cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting practices. Keeping buildings clean and sanitary is a challenge in and of itself. Adding the slow return of employees to the workplace and the increase in respiratory illness has once again challenged landlords and commercial property owners.
What is the tripledemic?
According to Yale Medicine, “There’s no scientific definition for this term; it simply refers to a collision of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus), flu, and COVID-19 to the extent that it might overwhelm hospital emergency departments. While all three viruses are present right now, they aren’t each peaking at the same time.”
Experts also warn of the skyrocketing costs associated with tripledemic illness. Loss of wages, impact on business function, and out-of-pocket health care costs are staggering. Staying healthy is critical, and being diligent about signs of an illness can be life-saving.
What can you do?
- Get vaccinated. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), getting vaccinated each year is the “single best way to reduce the risk of seasonal flu,” The vaccines developed for the coronavirus have proven to protect most people from getting seriously ill.
- Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and wear a mask if you feel unwell.
- Regularly clean and disinfect. When COVID first surfaced, we wiped down everything! Now, we rarely make that effort. Be diligent, wash your hands, and keep your hands away from your face and mouth.
What’s the difference between products that clean, sanitize, and disinfect surfaces?
According to the EPA, “Products used to kill viruses and bacteria on surfaces are registered as antimicrobial pesticides. Sanitizers and disinfectants are two types of antimicrobial pesticides.” Let’s look at each service:
Cleaning a building or property depends on the area, traffic, and use. High-touch surfaces like doors, elevators, light switches, and restrooms are cleaned more frequently. Personal items in the workplace, such as desks and equipment, could be cleaned using wipeable cloths. Cleaning removes dirt and organic matter from surfaces using soap or detergents. Cleaning with commercial cleaners that contain soap or detergent decreases the number of germs on surfaces and reduces the risk of infection from surfaces in your facility. Cleaning alone removes most types of harmful germs (like viruses, bacteria, parasites, or fungi) from surfaces.
Sanitizing can help reduce the spread of disease. Sanitizing kills bacteria on surfaces using chemicals. It is not intended to kill viruses. Sanitizing reduces the remaining germs on surfaces after cleaning. Sanitizing could be done by either cleaning, disinfecting, or both. Sanitizing means that you are lowering the number of germs to a safe level. What is considered a safe level depends on public health standards or requirements at a workplace, school, etc.
Consider the type of surface and how often the surface is touched. Generally, high-touch surfaces are more likely to spread germs. If the space is a high-traffic area, you may choose to clean more frequently or disinfect in addition to cleaning.
In addition to cleaning, disinfect areas of your facility where people have been ill (for example, vomiting on facility surfaces). If the space is a high-traffic area, you may choose to clean more frequently or disinfect in addition to cleaning. In addition, local health authorities might recommend specific disinfection procedures during particular disease outbreaks to reduce the risk of spreading disease within the facility.
Disinfecting kills viruses and bacteria on surfaces using chemicals. In addition, disinfecting can kill harmful germs that remain on surfaces after cleaning. By killing germs on a surface after cleaning, disinfecting can further lower the risk of spreading disease.
Not all disinfectants are effective for all harmful germs. Therefore, trained professionals should only administer the safe and proper use of disinfectants. Safe use and proper storage of these disinfectants are critical. Proper protective equipment (for example, gloves or goggles) to protect your skin and eyes from potential splashes and secure storage keeps employees and the cleaning staff safe from harm.
How do I keep my building clean and sanitary?
Exquisite Property Services combines these three methods to create a 3-step janitorial process that includes cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. The types of cleaning products used are also essential in the process. The CDC lists EPA-registered chemicals. Exquisite only uses natural products (like lemon, vinegar, etc.) or EPA-registered chemicals. The training tools for our staff and this 3-step cleaning process are based on CDC and EPA recommendations.
We also recommend and encourage our customers (building/facility owners) to consider other preventive measures that focus on air quality. Improved air quality is critical as a safeguard during the tripledemic. This 3-step process helps. This can be done using humidifiers, air purifiers, increased ventilation, cleaning air ducts, and changing air filters.
Overall, during this critical time, it is essential to couple a consistent and quality cleaning process with a culture of safety that encourages staff and customers to wash their hands, wear a mask, and stay home when they feel ill.
Is your building, property, or office prepared to fight off viruses and keep as many people as healthy as possible?
Note: The information in this post is for buildings in community settings (such as offices, gyms, businesses, and community centers) and is not intended for healthcare settings or other facilities where specific regulations or practices for cleaning and disinfection may apply. Additionally, this guidance only applies to cleaning and disinfection to prevent the spread of most harmful germs, such as viruses or bacteria. This guidance does not cover cleaning other materials (such as chemicals) from surfaces. Some germs are more challenging to remove or kill and might require specialized cleaning and disinfection. Always follow standard practices and appropriate regulations specific to your type of facility for cleaning and disinfection.