Published 14th July 2021

Rapid covid cleaning response to an outbreak

rapid covid cleaning

As the UK slowly returns to something approaching a ‘new normal’, the message being presented by the government is very much that we now have to learn to live with COVID-19. For any commercial property this means being prepared for the possibility of the premises being impacted by the virus, with any outbreak threatening the prospect of being out of operation for a period.

Despite the roll-out of the vaccination and the gradual lifting of restrictions, the number of cases of COVID-19 being reported is still on the rise, and the unpredictability of the situation means that any business has to have a plan in place for an emergency response if and when they are impacted by the virus.

Cleaning an area in which a person has a confirmed case of COVID-19

The government has set out clear principles for the cleaning of an area in which a person with a confirmed case of COVID-19, or obvious symptoms, has been present. Making sure the area is cleaned as thoroughly as possible is absolutely vital, of course, and for a couple of very good reasons.

The first of these is that it protects both members of staff and any visitors from the risk of further infection, and simultaneously plays a role in slowing down the wider general spread of the virus.

The second is that it protects the business as a commercial concern and enables it to continue operating safely. The downside of the imperative to clean the area in question is that the process has to be extremely thorough.

Government COVID Cleaning Guidelines

The government has published a set of guidelines for COVID-19 cleaning and decontaminating in non-healthcare settings, and they make it very plain exactly how much attention to detail is required if an area is to be made safe. The process is much more complex and involved than a standard cleaning regime, and involves the following steps:

Anyone involved in cleaning the commercial premises has to wear minimum personal protective equipment (PPE) consisting of disposable gloves and an apron. In circumstances in which it is felt that the levels of the virus present might be higher, this PPE might also include protection for the eyes, nose and mouth. In order to ascertain the correct levels of PPE needed the business concerned should seek advice from the local Public Health England (PHE) Health Protection Team.

In most cases a business might opt on the side of caution and utilise maximum PPE, and after undertaking clean-up operations the person responsible needs to wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, having removed all of their PPE. 

Public areas through which an infected person has passed have to be cleaned thoroughly, and any surfaces they may have been in contact with should be not only cleaned but disinfected. This includes potential areas of contamination such as grab rails, telephones and door handles.

Given that, in most commercial settings, it will be impossible to ascertain exactly which surfaces an infected or potentially infected person has been in contact with, an alert of this kind will normally involve the whole of the interior of the space being deep-cleaned in this manner.    

Disposable cloths and mop heads or paper towels should be used to clean hard surfaces and the guidance recommends a regime of – one site, one wipe, in one direction. The cleaning agent used should be one of the following:

  • a combined detergent disinfectant solution at a dilution of 1,000 parts per million available chlorine (ppm av.cl.)
  • a household detergent initially, followed by disinfection, as above, at 1000 ppm av.cl. All detergents and disinfectants need to be used in line with manufacturer’s instructions regarding application, dilution and contact times      

If an alternative disinfectant has already been established for use within an organisation it needs to be confirmed that it provides effective protection against enveloped viruses, and the mixing of different cleaning products should be avoided as it can create toxic fumes. Items which can’t be cleaned with detergents in this manner, such as upholstered furniture, need to be thoroughly deep-cleaned using a steam cleaner.

The details given above, although only fairly brief and limited, capture the complexity of the cleaning regime required in the event of an actual or even suspected COVID-19 outbreak.

Any commercial property, moving forward through the winter and into summer, will have to be ready and able to mount this kind of cleaning operation with zero notice and, in all likelihood, on multiple occasions. For the vast majority of businesses, this simply won’t be a practical option, which is why the services of professional cleaning experts such as Wixted Cleaning are going to be indispensible in the months to come.  

Any professional cleaning will involve a surface clean followed by a disinfection of the relevant areas. One of the advantages of a professional service is that the cleaning personnel and the specialised equipment required will always be ready to attend any commercial premises at short notice.

In any commercial operation the need to be back open for business as quickly as possible following a COVID-19 emergency is an absolute imperative, and a professional cleaning service will use their experience and expertise to deliver solutions at a speed that makes this possible. This is thanks to a combination of experienced personnel with hands on expertise of the quickest and most effective way of cleaning the widest possible range of surfaces, and the utilisation of the latest advanced cleaning technology.   

Fogging

An example of a technology which delivers effective COVID-19 cleaning solutions at speed is the use of disinfectant fogging. A fogging machine is able to deliver powerful disinfectant to hard and soft surfaces, at the same time as destroying airborne viruses such as coronavirus. It offers a solution which is 1000 times more effective than the kind of household bleach ordinarily used for cleaning of this kind, and yet is still completely safe to use in places such as food preparation areas and around sensitive equipment such as IT hardware. Even more importantly for any commercial concern seeking to minimise the time spent shut down in order to carry out an emergency cleaning operation, the use of disinfectant fogging allows the space in question to be used safely again within a matter of minutes.   

When it’s delivered by experienced professionals, a disinfectant fogging will not only reach into the least accessible areas of a space, it also makes use of natural ingredients and so is safe to use in the event of repeated deep cleanings being called for.

If you’d like to know more about the emergency COVID-19 clean-up services provided by Wixted, please contact us today and we’ll explain exactly what we could do to get your premises open and operative again as quickly as possible. You can call us on 01525 406926, email us at enquiries@wixtedcleaning.com or use the contact form on our website. Learning to live with COVID-19 means learning to keep your business operating and operating safely, and our emergency cleaning provision can help to make sure that happens.

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