COVID-19 Safety: How Often Should Offices Be Cleaned After Reopening?

Though the COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has been a part of our lives for nearly half a year now, individuals, businesses, and governments are still scrambling to figure out how to move forward in the midst of this ongoing threat. Many businesses have now resumed operations either partially or in full, while plenty of employees and customers remain cautious about entering these facilities. Additionally, in order to remain open, most of these companies have to abide by strict regulations to ensure the health and safety of those inside. For these reasons, it is imperative for businesses to maintain a clean and sanitary work environment during this emergency and beyond.

The question remains, though, how often should offices be cleaned and disinfected after reopening? And to what degree? While concrete answers seem difficult to come by these days, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have outlined a detailed regimen for businesses to follow regarding cleaning and disinfecting. Let’s break down their advice here.

A “Deep Cleaning” Should Only Be the Beginning

Prior to reopening, businesses should invest in a coronavirus deep clean service to properly prepare the space for operations. This initial deep cleaning should cover every area and surface of the facility to facilitate a sort of “blank slate.” Importantly, “deep cleaning” should also include disinfection protocols, wherein EPA-registered disinfectants that claim to kill coronaviruses and other microbes are used to eliminate any potential traces of infectious diseases. Many cleaning/disinfection companies will offer disinfection misting services to quickly saturate and sanitize a room, but make sure they combine this approach with standard spray and wipe methods as well, adhering to instructed dwell times.

While it’s key to thoroughly clean and disinfect your office before you open back up, these efforts should not stop here. Whenever people are around one another, there is a risk for transmitting COVID-19 and other illnesses. In order to mitigate this risk, your office requires regular cleaning and disinfection beyond the initial deep clean.

Different Surfaces Require Different Levels of Cleaning or Disinfection

Of course, not every part of your office will require the same degree of cleaning or disinfecting as others. It is important to determine which spaces and surfaces require which level of these disinfection services in order to not waste time or resources (there are still some supply chain concerns regarding disinfectant supplies). Indeed, certain surfaces can be merely cleaned with soap and water (and not disinfected). These include outdoor surfaces, surfaces that are not frequently touched, and areas that have been unoccupied for at least seven days (COVID-19 is unlikely to survive on surfaces for this long).

Conversely, you must identify the surfaces and areas that require both cleaning and disinfection, namely frequently-touched surfaces such as keyboards, doorknobs, light switches, toilets, phones, faucets, ATMs, etc. Additionally, it is important to delineate between porous and non-porous surfaces, as these different attributes can make cleaning and disinfect more or less difficult. The CDC’s website has links to resources for dealing with different materials.

Context is The Bottom Line

So far we haven’t delivered an exact routine for office cleaning and disinfecting -- this is because the frequency with which you perform these tasks depends on the factors outlined above and your business’ specific operations. As a general rule, however, it is good practice to clean and disinfect the highest-risk areas (i.e. bathrooms) and highest-touched surfaces throughout the day. If possible, some surfaces should be disinfected before each use (i.e. shopping carts and point of sale keypads). As for lower-risk, lower-touch areas and surfaces, these can either be cleaned on a daily basis, deeply cleaned weekly or bi-weekly, and/or as needed (if they are visibly dirty, for instance). The crucial thing is paying attention to how your office operates, identifying key surfaces and areas to clean and/or disinfect, and developing and implementing a commensurate plan.

If you need help creating and executing such a plan, we at The Budd Group can help. Not only do we provide ample cleaning and disinfection offerings (electrostatic disinfection services, deep cleaning, anti-microbial barrier technology, in-house disinfection, etc.), we also create customized facility maintenance plans for each of our clients.

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