Covid 19 Cleaning: After lockdown office cleaning measures

As millions of people are receiving COVID-19 vaccinations and coronavirus infections rates continue decreasing, many companies are allowing employees to return to in-office work. Office managers should never allow employees to return to work without first having offices and office buildings thoroughly disinfected.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) provides a concise guide about disinfecting offices before employees return after lockdown is lifted. Important points employers should know about these guidelines include:

Chemicals Approved by the EPA That Kill COVID-19

The EPA lists the following chemicals as 99.9 percent effective against deactivating the coronavirus on porous and nonporous surfaces:

  • Quaternary ammonium–kills both viruses and bacteria. Commonly used by restaurants and food packaging manufacturers
  • Hydrogen peroxide–kills viruses, bacteria, and fungi. Medical-grade hydrogen peroxide (three percent peroxide, 97 percent water) is recommended for cleaning offices
  • Sodium hypochlorite–the chemical name for household bleach. Use sodium hypochlorite to clean nonporous surfaces only. Bleach will fade or remove colors in carpet or fabrics
  • Ethanol (Ethyl alcohol)–kills bacteria, viruses, and fungi on all surface types. Mix eight ounces of ethyl alcohol with two ounces of water and spray on surfaces. Wait about 15 minutes before wiping off the solution for maximum effectiveness against COVID-19
  • Hypochlorous acid–kills coronavirus, fungi, and bacteria such as E. coli and Salmonella

Tips for Cleaning Porous Surfaces

When disinfecting drapes, curtains, carpet, rugs, and furniture fabric:

  • Machine wash and dry items whenever possible. Use hot water and standard laundry detergent. Dry the item entirely on hot- or permanent-press dryer settings
  • Make sure the cleaning solution you use on porous surfaces will not stain, fade or otherwise damage the material
  • Rent a carpet steam cleaner to disinfect carpets or considering hiring a professional cleaning company to ensure carpets no longer harbor coronavirus
  • Spray curtains, carpet, and furniture with an over-the-counter disinfecting spray for added protection against COVID-19.

If you can’t wash a specific item in a washer and dryer (curtains and rugs, for example), consider throwing it away and purchasing new curtains or rugs for your office.

Tips for Cleaning Nonporous Surfaces

Desks, leather chairs, bathroom surfaces, and walls should be sprayed with an appropriate disinfectant. Surfaces should be allowed to remain wet for 15 minutes. Wipe off nonporous surfaces with clean rags and dispose of the rags after use. A plastic garbage bag is recommended for storing used cleaning rags until they are thrown away.

When disinfecting keyboards, tablets, laptops, and other electronic devices:

  • Follow cleaning instructions provided by the manufacturer of the electronic item
  • Consider placing plastic covers over laptops, tablets, and computer components when they are not being used
  • Use a solution containing 70 percent alcohol to wipe down computers, laptops, and tablets with a microfiber cloth. Disinfecting wipes are also effective for cleaning electronic items as long as the wipes contain enough alcohol
  • Unplug cords and cables before cleaning office equipment
  • Never use abrasive cleaners like Comet or bleach on electronic devices
  • Request employees wipe down all machines they frequently use several times a day

What Else Can Office Managers Do to Significantly Reduce the Risk of COVID-19 Infection in the Workplace?

Providing easy access to tools and products meant to combat COVID-19 transmission is the best practice office managers can do to protect employees from COVID-19. Suggestions include:

  • Establishing a checkpoint at the entrance to the offices where employees can check their temperatures, use hand sanitizer, put on a mask (if applicable), and replenish their supply of sanitizing wipes
  • Replacing biometric fingerprint access with card-based access
  • Placing at least one hand sanitizer dispenser at each desk and in other busy areas in the office
  • Having bathrooms checked several times a day to ensure soap and sanitizer dispensers remain full
  • Install automatic hand dryers in bathrooms in place of paper towels
  • Upgrade air filtration systems to include portable HEPA air cleaners (especially in “high traffic” office spaces)

Another best practice to reduce COVID-19 infection is to constantly disinfect Outdoor areas where employees take breaks and eat lunch. While COVID-19 may not be as transmissible outdoors, the virus can still adhere to surfaces for up to several days. Outdoor break areas with tables, chairs, and benches should be cleaned several times a day if employees consistently use them.

What Should Office Managers Do When a Returning Employee Tests Positive for COVID-19?

An office manager’s worst-case scenario: an employee returns, works in the office for several weeks, and then becomes ill with COVID-19. What happens next? Since it is likely, the employee won’t know how they contracted coronavirus. The manager will have to close the office (or entire building), open the windows, and prevent anyone from entering the office for at least 24 hours.

Everything the employee may have touched will have to be disinfected–chairs, desks, door handles, bathroom faucets, and office equipment belonging to other employees. The manager will also need to contact employees about possible exposure to COVID-19 so they can quarantine. If this happens, infectious disease experts strongly urge managers consider hiring a cleaning business experienced with the COVID-19 disinfection process. Unless the office is sufficiently cleaned, the risk of other employees contracting COVID-19 when they return to work is statistically significant.

Disinfection Services

Post-Lockdown Office Cleaning Takes Time and Access to the Right Disinfectants

If it seems like a lot of work preparing an office to reopen after lockdown–that’s because it is a lot of work. It’s also essential for ensuring employees’ health and safety who are no doubt excited to be returning to the workplace. Office managers trying to streamline the transition from remote work back to in-office work may feel overwhelmed and confused about disinfecting for COVID-19. Just one employee testing positive for coronavirus can shut down the whole transition process and send employees back to working remotely.

Instead of assigning several employees to disinfect office equipment and spaces, managers hire professional cleaning businesses like Levdok Services, specializing in disinfecting for COVID-19. Levdok technicians are not only knowledgeable about COVID-19 but highly trained in disinfecting offices, office buildings and retail stores. We already have the EPA-approved cleaning products, PPE, and state-of-the-art cleaning tools to begin work right away. Levdok Services also offers a free cleaning quote for all Anne Arundel, Howard, and Baltimore County businesses. If your office has been on lockdown but plans to return to onsite work, give us a call today to learn more about our comprehensive COVID-19 cleaning services.