When to Disinfect and When to Sanitize: Protecting Your People from Germs This Winter and Beyond

Winter can bring lots of challenges for your facility, including inclement weather and snow day closings, the need for snow and ice removal, scheduling issues around the holidays, and more. But one thing you might not have considered in your list of winter hassles is the rapid spread of illness that can lead to mass absences from your school or business. Here’s how to mitigate some of the risks of sickness due to germs this winter, plus how commercial disinfection services can help.

How Winter Contributes to Sickness

Let’s start with a foundational question: Why do people get sick more in the winter? The truth is that cold weather can hinder the proper functioning of the immune system. Viruses—especially colds, RSV, and the flu—are not as easily “fought off” when cold air is entering the airways and nasal passages. Dry air from chilly temperatures and forced air heating systems can also cause viruses to spread. Since fewer water molecules are in the air, those particles from coughing and sneezing, or even talking and laughing, can quickly and easily spread from person to person without intervention. On top of that, people gather indoors more frequently during winter to stay warm. When people are in close quarters for extended periods of time, germs can spread quickly.

While the annual risks of viruses like colds and cases of the flu remain constant every year, there is another risk we’ve seen over the past several years: COVID-19. Yes, this infection is still out there and spreading. In some communities, COVID is still very prevalent. While much of the population in the United States has received the COVID-19 vaccination and follow-up booster shots, not everyone has. Plus, the vaccine doesn’t fully prevent recent strains of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes the disease COVID-19). Vulnerable populations like the elderly or immunocompromised may be at a much greater risk of contracting COVID-19 or suffering more drastic, long-term, or even fatal effects from the infection.

How does this impact your facility? Well, if you’re running a business, staff illness and absence don’t only impact morale—they also negatively affect your bottom line. You might find yourself scrambling to switch around schedules. In schools, finding substitute teachers can be tricky, and students can spread illness quickly among their peer groups as well—which could impact academic performance. And in medical facilities, you might be looking at increased exposure to harmful infections and illnesses that could impede treatment progress for patients and negatively impact your medical staff.

How Sanitizing Services Can Help

Sanitization is all about reducing the number of germs and bacteria in the air or on a surface to minimize the risks of these contaminants spreading from person to person through contact. Sanitizing efforts may include setting up signage throughout your facility about proper handwashing techniques and ensuring that your soap dispensers are full. You might consider posting hand sanitizer stations throughout your building as well—just be sure to note that hand sanitizer should not be used in lieu of hand washing, but as an additional step toward staying germ-free.

Cleaning is a big part of the sanitizing process. Cleaning up spills from food or beverages, debris from trash, recycling, or medical waste, mud and moisture tracked in from the outdoors, and human waste in bathrooms and beyond should all be part of your facility’s sanitization protocol. These steps can reduce the risk of spreading germs or carrying harmful bacteria throughout your facility. Wiping down surfaces with sanitizing wipes can also help reduce the number of germs and bacteria, though these wipes typically can’t completely eliminate their total count. Now that we’ve discussed sanitizing services, let’s talk about commercial disinfection and what it can help with.

How Disinfection Services Can Help Reduce Illness

While a sanitizing service can help to reduce the number of germs and bacteria in the air or on surfaces, a commercial disinfection service is intended to eliminate all germs from a given surface. Think of disinfection services as the “major leagues” in disease and illness prevention. When a disinfection service provider uses special, medical-grade chemicals, they can actually achieve total elimination of germs and bacteria on a given surface. However, since some germs and bacteria are healthy and necessary—and since disinfection chemicals can be powerful and harmful if misused—these should only be used in select environments and always by a trained professional.

Disinfection service teams are typically hired by facility managers and administrators in high-traffic or vulnerable areas—think office buildings, retail stores, schools and universities, and medical facilities. Deep disinfection might include a deep cleaning with specialized equipment and medical-grade disinfectant solutions. Professional technicians will wear personal protective equipment (PPE) to shield themselves from contaminants as they clean. Often, these disinfectant chemical solutions must be applied to the surface and remain on them for some time before they’re removed, leaving the surface free of germs.

Other disinfection services might include the use of an antimicrobial barrier. This solution is applied to high-touch-point areas and ver­i­fied by an ATP meter, then it effectively guards against virus­es, bac­te­ria, and mold for approx­i­mate­ly three months. This process could also include the use of an ultra­vi­o­let (UV‑C) light to kill germs, bacteria, and harmful viruses. Mist­ing and elec­tro­sta­t­ic spray dis­in­fec­tion is another option. This method uses cir­cu­lat­ing mist­ing and fog­ging devices to clean and pro­tect hard-to-reach, fre­quent­ly touched sur­faces with envi­ron­men­tal­ly safe dis­in­fect­ing spray. All of these options can help keep your facility and its occupants free from germs and bacteria, preventing mass absences and loss of productivity, profitability, and progress.

Other Ways to Mitigate the Risks of Spreading Germs

Besides the sanitization and disinfection services discussed above, there are steps you as an individual, facility manager, or administrator can take to reduce the spread of germs. Let’s start with this question: How can you protect yourself from getting sick in the winter? You can begin by taking all the appropriate steps to keep yourself free of harmful germs, including frequent hand washing. Avoid touching your face as much as possible, and be sure to wash your hands after blowing your nose, taking out trash or recycling, or going to the bathroom. Consider wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) like a mask and gloves if you’re in a high-risk area like a medical facility. Eating healthy, vitamin-rich meals, getting daily physical activity in, and getting plenty of sleep can also allow the body to do the work of resting and repairing, keeping your immune function strong throughout the season.

You can also encourage your staff and students to take these same steps for their own personal well-being, as well as provide opportunities to stop sickness before it starts. Can you host a flu shot drive at your school or workplace, making flu shots and COVID-19 vaccines accessible for all? If not, perhaps you can offer paid time off for a morning or afternoon for staff members to go to a local drug store to receive their flu shots and COVID-19 shots. Be sure to proactively communicate with your building’s tenants that if anyone is feeling sick or showing symptoms of colds or flus, they should absolutely stay home rather than risk exposing others to germs.

The Budd Group Can Help Keep Your Facility Safe This Winter and Beyond

When considering everything we’ve discussed above, you may find that despite your best efforts, cleaning and sanitizing just aren’t hitting the mark in terms of keeping your facility safe. So if you decide it’s time to hire a professional disinfection service, look no further than the team of subject matter experts at The Budd Group. We’re your one-stop shop for janitorial, sanitization, disinfection, landscaping, and maintenance services—meaning that you don’t need to undergo the headache of managing multiple vendors, teams, and invoices at your property. The Budd Group has been in the business for 60 years, serving clients throughout the Southeast United States with outstanding results and thrilled testimonials.

We offer a wide array of janitorial and sanitation services to clean up any mess, keep surfaces and high-traffic areas clean and free of debris, and stay on top of any issues. We also offer maintenance services to repair any faulty systems, leaks, or breakages in your building’s assets so that your facility is safe. In addition to all of this, our disinfection services are unmatched across the industry. We feature customized solutions for all entity types, using methods like antimicrobial barriers, U.S. Food and Drug Admin­is­tra­tion approved ultra­vi­o­let C (UV-C) radi­a­tion, mist­ing and elec­tro­sta­t­ic spray dis­in­fec­tion, and more to ensure your building and its occupants are exposed to the fewest harmful germs and bacteria possible. Our reme­di­a­tion dis­in­fec­tion pro­gram is CDC com­pli­ant, using only CDC-approved dis­in­fec­tants and tech­niques to safe­ly dis­in­fect areas sus­pect­ed or con­firmed to be con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed by infec­tious disease.

Plus, we are committed to delivering services on time and on budget. We trust our team of experts to complete the work thoroughly, correctly, and in a timely way, so we also offer our “Make It Right” Guarantee. This is The Budd Group’s promise to you that we commit to providing services you can be confident in. If we complete a job and you’re unsatisfied in any way, we’ll “make it right.” Minimize the germs in your facility this winter and mitigate the risks of infection, illness, and disease with help from The Budd Group—contact us today to learn more!

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