Real Life, Everyday Questions We Receive About Disinfecting
I recently attended multiple webinars where the main topics cover the reopening process for businesses in Oregon (primarily hotels and restaurants). There was one prevalent theme that I kept hearing… “I am so overwhelmed with the amount of emails in my inbox and the articles pertaining to COVID-19 and I just can’t keep up with it all. If I see another email in my inbox with COVID in the subject line, I just want to delete it”. With the most recent release of statements from the CDC pertaining to the survival of COVID-19 on surfaces, we’ve had a lot of questions coming our way here at Summit. Instead of providing a barrage of information you have likely already heard or summarizing common information pertaining to COVID-19, I am going to give you the real deal on what we hear daily from our customers and how we help answer their questions.
Can I do my own disinfecting?
The short answer, you sure can! So why are we still getting calls at Summit? Because our customers are finding a hard time locating the very items they need to do this. Sprayers, foggers, sanitizers, PPE for use while disinfecting, etc. Many of these items are sold out and some suppliers don’t know when they will be in stock again. As a contractor, we have long standing relationships with our suppliers and prepared the best we could to have these items on hand to help during this time. If you are having a hard time locating the items you need, give us a shout. At the very least we can help guide you and connect you with someone that can help you find these items the best we can, or help you disinfect until you can obtain the right products and chemistry.
What about the new statements released by the CDC about viruses’ lifespan on surfaces?
This topic has caused a lot of confusion about how often to disinfect surfaces. We started receiving an influx of questions after these statements were released by the CDC. In the end, the real message in these statements remains the same… there will always be some level of risk associated with contact from surfaces. There is still so much we don’t know about the novel coronavirus. However, we see cold and flu virus breakouts every year, and the same rules of hygiene and sanitation still apply. Congested communal spaces cause airborne pathogens to circulate from one individual to another and can survive on surfaces. It’s common for a whole office to get sick at the same time due to working in close quarters and touching the same surfaces frequently. Disinfecting high- touch surfaces is a great precautionary measure no matter what pathogen you are dealing with. Ramping up our sanitation standards no matter where we work or shop is never a bad idea.
Technician using a fogging machine to apply disinfectant to restaurant equipment
How do I know if I am applying disinfectants properly?
Anyone that is currently operating a business has likely been keeping track of what kind of disinfectants to use in their sanitation protocols. The EPA has compiled a list of registered disinfectants as effective against Sars-Cov-2 and their guidelines for cleaning and sanitizing should be followed. What many people don’t know is there is a dwell time for each disinfectant for it to be effective (see table below). These products should always have a safety datasheet associated with them as well as proper use guidelines. Disinfectants should be applied evenly across the surface you are disinfecting, the surface needs to be visibly wet, the disinfectant should be allowed to dwell for the recommended time frame for maximum efficacy. Many people are often surprised to hear that common disinfectants require up to a 10 minute dwell time before wiping clean to be effective in killing pathogens. Are you and your staff saturating the surface appropriately and letting the solution sit on the surface for enough time before wiping clean? Newer chemistry has recently been developed that have shortened the dwell time down to 30 seconds. We use this type of chemistry in our services, so please feel free to reach out to us if you have additional questions about what kind of products we use, or guidance on the current products you are using. In the meantime, here is a reference table of dwell times for commonly used disinfectants:
My budget is really tight and I just don’t know if I can actually afford a professional service, what do you recommend?
This is a great question! It also has a varying degree of responses depending on the person asking. Our response is usually to go with the option that follows CDC guidelines, provides you the best peace of mind, and stays within your budget. We have had some customers contract us to do consistent fogging services to accompany their current sanitation protocols for the comfort of their staff and patrons. If financials are a concern, our #1 piece of advice is to definitely call us when you have had a positive COVID-19 case with one of your staff members. This ensures the proper protocols are followed for disinfecting, achieves the best possible coverage and goes the extra mile to protect the health of your staff and patrons. We have had multiple customers sign a retainer with us to prepare for a scenario such as this. It ensures we hold the proper chemistry for them and can deploy right away. This gets your business up and running as quickly as possible and shows you’ve gone the extra mile to provide a safe working environment.
If I contract you for a sanitation service, what do I have to do before the visit?
The answer is usually, nothing! Our job is to make sure you can stay as hands-off as possible. We do not require you to spend time moving items around, organizing your office for the best coverage possible, be present during the whole service, or shut your business down for a service. We operate according to your schedule. We can come in before or after closing, overnight, and on weekends. All we ask is that you have someone meet us onsite to let our technicians in, and someone to lock up when we are done! The only items we recommend storing are loose papers, they are best kept in a file so they won’t be affected by a light mist or be blown around by our fogging equipment. Our process covers any surface and if your ventilation system is on, the sanitizer can circulate throughout the building as well.
Can your disinfectants be used in food establishments?
Yes! We offer non-toxic, botanical-based options for any location where food is being prepared. We still recommend storing produce or any perishable items in boxes in a secure location to avoid a disinfectant covering them, as well as any dish racks that you are storing clean dishes on for serving. We have the capability of building a small containment wall if you find some of these items hard to store. All you have to do is let us know and we will take care of the rest!
Does your fogging process leave a residue?
Our process does not leave a visible residue. Our fogging service is meant to apply a disinfectant to all applicable surfaces and it is not wiped away. This is to ensure that the proper dwell time is achieved for the product but it will not leave a residue that you or your staff will have to wipe clean.
Do I really need a full cleaning (sanitizing) AND disinfecting service?
Industry-best practices will always recommend cleaning a surface before applying a disinfectant, and we recommend it too. Sanitizing involves the cleaning and removal of harmful substances from surfaces. Disinfecting procedures involve an application of biocide/viricide to treat surfaces and inactivate harmful substances. Disinfection does not mean that surfaces have been physically cleaned. If your staff has been constantly cleaning the surfaces at your business and there isn’t a large amount of physical dirt present, our fogging services without a full cleaning is still a great option to ensure disinfectants are being properly applied. If you have a tight budget and cannot hire a professional service, we recommend that you and your staff consistently clean high touch surfaces before applying a disinfectant for maximum effectiveness.
Can my carpets hold pathogens in it?
Yes, as a porous surface, it can definitely harbor pathogens much like a hard surface can. It’s always hard to say how long a virus can stay active on soft surfaces. But, since you asked, let’s talk about the pros and cons of carpet and why it’s best if you clean it often. Carpet acts as a filter, which in a sense, is pretty cool right? But also pretty gross! Carpets can pull particles from the air such as pollen, dust, pet dander, microbes and other contaminants and actually minimize them from circulating through an area. This also means, if you haven’t gotten your carpets cleaned for a while, they will need to be extracted to remove the dirt and other unknown substances. Spring and early summer is a great time to get some carpet cleaning done since our windows have been closed for most of the winter and air circulation has been less than optimal. Our facility services division is still operating during this time, so please reach out if you would like to chat about getting your building carpets cleaned. We offer cleaning services throughout Oregon including Bend, Redmond, Eugene, Hillsboro, Hood River, coastal communities and the greater Portland area.
Before and after steam extraction of carpets in commercial building