There have been numerous studies that have shown that the Coronavirus - along with many other viruses and bacteria - can live on surfaces for up to three days, which is why along with social distancing and mask-wearing, thorough and effective cleaning is a crucial step in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in any workplace.
As the experts in hygiene, we’ve been regularly posting articles on our blog during the lockdown aimed at keeping you updated on ways in which you can keep both your home and workplace free from cross-contamination. And for the last seven months, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has also been providing similar guidelines. We thought you might like to hear it from a different expert this time, so we've rounded up 15 of the most useful COVID-19 hygiene tips the CDC has issued during this time. Same message, different messenger!
15 hygiene tips for your workplace:
1. Clean high-touch surfaces daily
Whilst the coronavirus mainly spreads through person-to-person contact, you can still get infected from touching contaminated surfaces. The CDC recommends a daily cleaning of surfaces in your home that are frequently touched, and we recommend the same practice for workplaces. This includes common areas such as "tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, phones, tablets, touch screens, remote controls, keyboards, handles, desks, toilets, and sinks."
2. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.
Hand hygiene is more important than ever (we hate to say we told you so, but ...)
But if you're aren’t washing your hands properly, or for long enough, then you're not really doing much good. The CDC, and Initial, recommends scrubbing your hands for at least 20 seconds - or the time it takes to sing “Happy Birthday “ twice, to ensure that hands are clean. Also, remember to wash areas like the thumb, and the top of the hands, that sometimes get forgotten.
3. And make sure you wash hands before you touch your face.
The coronavirus can enter your body through your mouth, nose, or even your eyes. That's why the CDC especially warns the public to wash their hands before touching the face, after they've "touched an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people." This can include door handles, tables, shopping trolleys, or electronic cashier registers and screens. Better yet, try not to touch your face (although easier said than done, we’ve discovered).
4. Use hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
The best protection from the coronavirus is washing your hands, but soap and water are not always available. The CDC says you can use hand sanitizer as a substitution, but only under two conditions—it's alcohol-based with at least 60 percent alcohol, and your hands are not visibly dirty. Sanitiser doesn't remove grime, so in the same way surfaces need to be clean before they can be disinfected, so do hands. You can read our previous blog post on the difference between cleaning and disinfecting for more on this.
5. Rub your hand sanitizer in for at least 30 seconds
Yes, you should be washing your hands for at least 20 seconds—but your hand sanitizer has time requirements, too. According to a CDC report in the Emerging Infectious Diseases journal, rubbing your hand sanitizer in for 30 seconds is the most effective, as any less could leave traces of the virus behind.
6. Understand the difference between cleaning and disinfecting.
Cleaning should be relegated to dirty surfaces and should be done before disinfecting, the CDC explains. Surfaces should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water and then an approved disinfectant can be used to sanitize the area against COVID-19. Alternately contact Initial for information on our Disinfection services, or read our previous blog post on the difference between cleaning and disinfecting.
7. Wear gloves while cleaning.
The instructions on many cleaning products advocate for the use of gloves while using their product, but the CDC also specifically recommends doing so when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces for the coronavirus.
Be safe at work and ensure that your daily cleaners are equipped to do a proper job. This not only includes gloves, but also designated cleaning supplies for different parts of the workplace. No-one wants the cleaner to be using the same sponge on the kitchen that was used to clean that toilet, do they? Download our hygiene checklist to ensure you aren’t unwittingly making your colleagues sick.
8. And discard gloves after every use.
The CDC recommends wearing disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting, and that these gloves be discarded after each use. However, if you are using reusable gloves, they should be "dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other purposes," the CDC says.
9. Invest in pedal dustbins for the office.
Invest in a no-touch rubbish bin, suggests the CDC. And it makes sense- especially if people are throwing away used tissues. Make sure your work rubbish bins are foot-pedal operated to limit the risk of people touching a possibly contaminated lid. In the bathroom, Initial’s Signature disposal bin is available with or without a lid or a foot pedal, and comes with silver-ion technology as standard.
10. Use alcohol-based wipes or sprays for electronics.
Frequently touched electronics like your phone, laptop, keyboard and mouse, as well as shared electronics like the photocopier or printer, need cleaning, too. Your product may have manufacturer's instructions for how to clean and disinfect, but if it does not, the CDC recommends using alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70 percent alcohol to disinfect touch screens. Initial also offers a techno hygiene service especially designed for office equipment.
11. Always read the directions on the label of products.
Following the instructions for specific products is the key to making sure they work effectively. According to the CDC, many disinfectant products actually need to be left as a wet coating on surfaces for a specific amount of time before being wiped away to actually work. The directions on your product label should tell your daily cleaner how long. At Initial, we clean with enzyme based products which don’t need to be rinsed, but this isn't the case with many store-bought cleaning products. Read more about why we clean with bio-enzymes.
12. Wash your face mask every day.
According to the CDC, cloth face coverings should be washed after every single use, whether by hand or in a washing machine. Leann Poston, MD, medical advisor for Invigor Medical, says to "purchase multiple cloth masks," if you can't clean one after every use. For dirty masks, "put them in a bag until they can be laundered," she says.
13. Dry your mask completely before wearing it again.
The CDC warns that you must let your mask dry completely after washing it before wearing it again. A wet mask is less effective at filtering out germs.
14. Wash your hands before and after touching your mask.
Are you about to put your mask on, or take it off? The CDC says you need to wash your hands before putting on your mask, and immediately after taking it off. This is because any germs already on your hands can travel to your mask and enter your body through your nose or mouth when putting it on. And any germs on your mask can travel to your hands when taking it off. For more tips on mask wearing, read our popular post: 10 things you absolutely need to know about wearing a mask.
15. Don't share items that can't be easily cleaned.
One of the biggest mistakes you can make during the pandemic is sharing items that haven't been cleaned from person-to-person. This is why the CDC encourages people not to share items that are "difficult to clean, sanitise, or disinfect."
For more information on how Initial can assist you in maintaining a hygienic, safe working environment, contact us today for a free quote.