Mark Warner, the education manager at the International Sanitary Supply Association, says that the janitorial focus of public spaces needs to pivot from “cleaning for appearance” to “cleaning for health” to help stop the spread of infectious diseases.
“When it comes to the value of cleaning, it’s often a question of whether it will be a return on investment or just an expense,” he says. “The reality is there is an excellent return on investment. Proper cleaning procedures actually have the ability to reduce costs, protect people’s health and improve their productivity.”
According to the World Health Organization, at least 30 new dangerous infectious diseases have emerged in the last 20 years – diseases like SARS, Ebola, and H1N1 (“bird flu”.) It’s likely that more of these diseases are on the horizon.
“We really could have learned from these previous infectious diseases to be able to better deal with what’s happening to us now,” says Warner. “The bottom line is that people who don’t know how to clean and disinfect properly have the ability to actually spread disease over a greater area.”
A staff member with the best disinfectant who doesn’t know how to use it will fail at proper disinfection; conversely, a person with right knowledge and techniques but without the right disinfectant will also fail.
“It is a marriage of procedural knowledge and disinfectant chemistry that makes it all work,” he says. “Some people with great procedural knowledge know there are reservoirs of microorganisms on high touch points. What we don’t often think about are above-floor horizontal surfaces.”
These above-floor surfaces include desktops, countertops, and tables, all which typically have very high counts of infectious materials. And the largest horizontal surface in any given public space is always the floor – or what Warner calls the “catch-all of all microorganisms.”
As the single largest reservoir of pathogenic microorganisms in a building, the floor is also a superhighway for these microorganisms that are transported on the soles of shoes, wheels and carts. From a purse to a pen dropped on the floor, these “secondary vehicles” help bring microorganisms to surfaces that are readily accessible to hands. This is also known as “incidental floor contact”, and according to Warner, the average person has more than 50 of these floor contacts in a single day.
Disease-causing elements are not removed by making a space look clean. For this reason, he stresses how important it is to follow best practices for disinfection procedures: pre-clean a surface, apply disinfectants with the correct rating and allow for dwell time, recover wet, spent disinfection solution, and rinse for those sanitizing agents that require it. Procedures must focus on floors, above-floor surfaces and touch points. Overall building cleanliness and sanitation are most impacted by cleaning task frequencies, which had been made even more important with the current pandemic environment.
“Right now, with COVID-19, extreme cleanliness is what we need and that requires increased frequencies,” says Warner. “How do we increase frequencies without worrying about the fact we’re being a part of spreading this disease?”
Fortunately, choosing the right disinfectant can be easy when you know what you’re looking for! Health Canada has published a list of approved disinfecting agents that have been demonstrated to successfully kill the COVID-19 coronavirus, and more approved agents are being added regularly. But although all of these approved chemicals can kill the coronavirus, not all of them are safe for use on your floors.
Household bleach should never, ever be used in your sanitizing mats. Household bleach – when mixed with other common household cleaning chemicals – can form dangerous chlorine gas, cause explosions, and even cause serious skin burns. Bleach is just as damaging to both soft and hard surfaces, like your sanitizing mat and the floor underneath it. Household bleach can discolour or stain the colour in your floor; it can dull and mar your floor’s finish; it can even wear off coats of wax on tile or destroy the protective layers on vinyl! And that doesn’t even take into considering the damage that bleach will do to the shoes of the people who are using your sanitizing mats as they enter your building.
The sanitizing solution that we recommend for use with your Grizzly Sanitize mat system is called Vital Oxide. Vital Oxide contains quaternary disinfectants, but most of its virus-killing power comes from its Chlorine Dioxide composition. Chlorine Dioxide is completely and totally different from household bleach! In fact, it is so safe for contact with people that it’s one of the few disinfectants that have been approved for spraying / fogging in public spaces! Vital Oxide has been proven to kill many viruses, including COVID-19, influenza, norovirus, H1N1, and many more – all without causing any damage to people or property. Vital Oxide has been tested and approved by Health Canada for use against COVID-19, and has a registered drug identification number.
The choice of disinfecting agent that you use in your sanitizing mats matters just as much as the choice of sanitizing mat itself! It can be a difficult choice to navigate – give us a call or send us an email today and we’ll happily walk you through your options and help you find the right product for your building’s needs!