FAQ for Facility Managers & Cleaners

By Jim Flieler, VP of Sales for North America at Charlotte Products

It’s hard to remember a time when we didn’t talk about the coronavirus with our customers, audience and colleagues every day. Yet, it’s true—there was a time before COVID-19. Early on in the days, weeks and months when the world first started realizing that the virus was on track to change our lives, we were still learning about the virus. We didn’t know exactly how it spread, we weren’t totally sure about the need for masks, and we were often getting conflicting information from our government agencies.

Now that the global science community has been tracking and studying COVID-19 for a year and a half, our understanding has evolved. We know that COVID-19 spreads through aerosols indoors, that it’s less likely to spread via surfaces than we once thought, and that masks are essential to slowing the spread of infection. Still, there is a lot we don’t know right now because of the Delta variant and breakthrough infections in vaccinated people. 

Here at Charlotte Products, we continue to get many questions from our end users about COVID-19 and how to use our products to prevent infection outbreaks in buildings. I’d like to share some of those frequently asked questions, with our answers, here.

How do I know what to do to keep COVID-19 out of my facility? 

This is the biggest question we get. Unfortunately, we don’t have a one-size-fits-all answer. We will answer this question differently for our end users in the healthcare center, or those cleaning nursing homes, than for end users in retail or smaller corporate offices. Schools have a different set of protocols they must follow, too. That’s why we recommend finding a cleaning and disinfection protocol that matches the needs of your particular facility. The amount of people entering your building, the ability to promote physical distancing and masking and the vulnerabilities of your building population will determine how intense your infection control protocol will need to be, 

My products are registered effective against COVID-19. What more do I need to do?

The truth is that coronaviruses are generally easy to kill. Having a product that is registered effective against COVID-19 is a good start, but it is just a baseline. You will need to develop a program that includes increased cleaning frequency, careful disinfection of high-touch areas, physical distancing measures and handwashing protocol. Document this program and make sure that everyone on your cleaning staff is trained on it. Changing a product isn’t going to be enough to ensure the building is safe. 

Is validation important?

Yes. Validation is very important in the post-COVID-19 era. If the surface looks clean, we can no longer assume it’s clean. People are expecting a cleaner and safer environment, and you’ll need to have ways to prove to them that they are safe.

How can I validate that my buildings are clean?

A visual check isn’t enough. You need validation and measurement to prove to the public that your buildings are clean, and to ensure that they are clean. Validation is also an important aspect of training and employee morale. We recommend using PPM paper to test your products’ dilution ratios as you are using them. ATP meters detect enzymes on surfaces, so they can be used to check that hard surfaces have been cleaned. New technologies like OptiSolve’s Pathfinder and SAVI system can be used to take spatially specific photographs of surface contamination and integrate those results into data and reporting for a more robust form of cleaning validation.

Do I really need to clean everything more often? 

Yes you do. COVID-19 is airborne and it spreads inside buildings. Just because data shows that it is less likely to spread via surfaces does not mean you can take the chance and skip a cleaning. You need to have a higher cleaning frequency now, and that will continue into the foreseeable future.

How do I find time to clean more when I have fewer employees and less money? 

Delivery methods can make a difference to meet demand for higher frequencies with less cleaning staff. We recommend using a pump-up sprayer with your cleaning and disinfectant products, which applies product five times faster than a trigger sprayer. We are seeing the widespread use of foggers, misters and electrostatic sprayers. While these may be faster in application, facilities must still ensure they follow the Five Critical Security Elements of Disinfection.

Does the delivery method matter if I am using a strong disinfectant product?

You must follow the Five Critical Security Elements of Disinfection, regardless of the delivery method of your product. These five critical steps are: 

  1. Use a registered product
  2. Dilute properly
  3. Always pre-clean
  4. Respect the dwell time
  5. Use a potable rinse on food contact surfaces and toys

Should I be worried about using so many disinfectants so often?

I believe that the overuse of disinfectants is a big risk right now. Disinfectants have aggressive chemistry, meaning they can pose risks for human health and the environment. Here at Charlotte Products, we continue to emphasize the importance of safely removing organic matter and then sparingly, thoughtfully and carefully applying disinfectant and sanitizers to those high contact touch points. 

Is it ok to use hand sanitizer in place of hand washing with soap and water?

Hand washing with soap and water will always be the best, most effective way to remove germs and grime for your hands and to stop the spread of infection. However, when a sink is not available, hand sanitizer can be an adequate alternative. Make sure you choose an alcohol-based hand sanitizer and be wary of certain sanitizers that have been recalled. There is a right way to use hand sanitizer. Many people don’t realize that, according to the label of most alcohol-based hand sanitizers, you must thoroughly rub the sanitizer into your hands for at least 30 seconds, then allow it to dry. 

What else should we be doing in our buildings besides increased cleaning frequencies to prevent the spread of COVID-19?

Distancing, hand washing and masks are all going to be with us for a very long time. When you are indoors, it is still important to promote physical distancing, which can include having cleaning staff perform tasks when the building is closed or staggering start times. Mask wearing should still be enforced while the public is not fully vaccinated, including children. Ventilation is also very important. Open windows whenever possible. Upgrading HVAC systems with high grade filters and looking into UV lights for HVAC systems are also sound investments in the health of your building. Vaccination is our most effective tool in the fight against COVID-19. The more you can encourage vaccination in your workers and building occupants, the better defense you will have against COVID-19 and all variants. Allow science to communicate accurate information.

Since the threat of infection caused by the pandemic, and our hurried process of figuring out how to stop infection, there has been a heightened attention on the way shared spaces are cleaned. The pandemic has taught us the important role cleanliness plays in public health. The lessons we take with us into the future should inform the way we continue to clean and the expectations we have for public buildings. Have any additional questions? Email experts@charlotteproducts.com

For more information about COVID-19, including recommended products we offer that can be an important part of your infection control program, check out our Coronavirus Technical Bulletin.