Whether you own a small business, run a school or simply want to ensure your workplace is clean and healthy, re-opening after COVID-related closures can be overwhelming.
But it doesn’t have to be. For starters, if the space has been empty for 7 days, routine cleaning is all you need to re-open.
Why? Because studies show the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 doesn’t survive more than 5 – 7 days on surfaces. (Keep in mind that buildings that have been closed for extended periods might need other measures to ensure safety, though, like your water system.)
Same is true for outdoor spaces. Just maintain your usual cleaning and hygiene practices. Additional disinfection techniques aren’t necessary, according to the CDC, and could use much-needed supplies unnecessarily.
From there, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends a 3-step process for your plan to bring staff and customers back.
3. Revise and maintain
Let’s go through each one.
Develop Your Plan
The first thing you should do, says the CDC, is evaluate your workplace, school or business to determine what kinds of surfaces and objects can be cleaned as you normally would.
Then determine what needs to be disinfected using a product from the EPA’s list of approved disinfectants.
Pro tip: Take a look around to see if you can eliminate items that would get handled by multiple people or are challenging to disinfect and aren’t essential to meeting staff or customer needs, such as coffee pots or upholstered seating.
Next, make a list of the resources you will need, such as cleaning and disinfection products and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE).
The CDC recommends that you always wear gloves appropriate for the chemicals you are using.
It’s also important to read and follow the directions on the product labels for any additional requirements for safe handling. Some products will require specialized training and PPE, you’ll want to leave those techniques to the professionals.
Finally, be sure to include a strategy for maintaining a cleaning and disinfection schedule after you open, keeping in mind that it will need to be flexible and adjusted as scientists learn more about the virus and its spread or your local circumstances change.
See the Workplace Cleaning Checklist for more information about what to clean and disinfect and how.
Implement Your Plan
With your plan in place, your next job is to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Use soap and water to clean visibly dirty surfaces. Clean or launder soft and porous materials like seating, area rugs, carpets and curtains. Wash and dry on the highest heat setting you can without ruining the item. (Check the label if you can to be sure.)
You’ll want to clean and disinfect high-touch places such as door knobs and light switches at least daily, more in high-traffic areas such as lobbies or bathrooms and kitchens.
Again, see the Workplace Cleaning Checklist for more information about what to clean and disinfect and how.
Maintain and Revise Your Plan
Once you have developed and implemented your plan, be sure to follow through with regular routine cleaning and disinfecting. Simply cleaning regularly with soap and water can go a long way toward reducing the risk of exposing staff or customers to germs.
Remember, clean high touch surfaces at least daily — more if they are handled by multiple people many times a day, such as shopping basket handles or point-of-sale keypads.
Finally, make sure you monitor and replenish your supplies — but don’t buy more than you need because that could result in shortages of critical resources.
Leave it to the Professionals
While it is possible for you to provide a clean and healthy environment for staff using existing resources, many organizations opt to bring in professionals to help devise, implement and maintain a plan for not only cleaning and disinfecting their space, but also re-organizing workflows, traffic, signage and communications.
Using a professional frees you up to concentrate on your core competencies. More importantly, it gives you, your staff and customers the most precious commodity of all — peace of mind.
If you need help preparing to open your business, call us at
Your Workplace Cleaning Checklist
The Centers for Disease Control recommends first cleaning high-touch, hard surfaces with soap and water to remove visible dirt and dust. Next, use an EPA-registered disinfectant. (Be sure to follow the instructions on the label, many products require a “dwell” time.)
According to the CDC, you can also use a household bleach solution to disinfect. Mix four teaspoons of bleach per quart of water. Let the solution sit for 1 minute before rinsing with water.
Letting 70% rubbing alcohol dwell on the surface will also disinfect it, according to the CDC.
High-touch surfaces include:
• Hand rails
• Door knobs/handles
• Elevator buttons
• Sinks and faucets
• Drinking fountains
• Toilets and toilet handles
• Window sills
• Light switches
• Equipment controls
• Cabinet and file drawer knobs/handles
• Vending machines
• Chair arms
• Copier/printer control buttons
Don’t Forget Electronics
Electronics often get overlooked and yet they are touched as frequently or more than common areas.
To start, clean off any visible dirt or dust and then follow manufacturers directions for cleaning and disinfecting.
If there are no instructions from the manufacturer, then the Centers for Disease Control recommends using an alcohol-based wipe or spray containing at least 70% alcohol.
This category includes:
• Remote controls
• Desktop and drawers
Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces at least daily, more if surfaces are in high-traffic areas.
What About Soft Surfaces?
Soft and porous materials are more challenging to disinfect, according to the CDC. A good place to start is by laundering items in the warmest water setting appropriate for the material, and letting them dry completely in the dryer or sun, if possible. The WHO recommends water temperatures between 60–90°C (140–194°F). However, read the care labels because high temperatures can damage or shrink some cloth.
Otherwise, use an EPA-registered disinfectant.
Soft surfaces include:
• Upholstered furniture and seating such as chairs and couches
Launder towels, sponges, dishrags and linens after each use.
Check out the infographic below on office cleaning and disinfecting tips to make sure you and your employees stay healthy and safe. Have questions or need janitorial services for your office? Schedule an estimate to get a customized, adaptable cleaning and disinfecting plan that meets your needs.