Use Infection Control as a Means for Illness Prevention this Back-to-School Season
By Dominic Toscani
The kids are back in school, and that means cold and flu season is just around the corner. While there’s no substitute for proper hygiene and clean hands, a solid infection control regimen goes a long way toward keeping students, teachers and medical staff healthy, while also reducing exposure to viral germs. What does an effective infection control plan look like? It’s a series of preventative measures to keep bacteria and viruses from spreading before it becomes an outbreak.
The first step in any infection control program is increasing awareness. When students and teachers know what to do at home, they are less likely to bring a virus to school. The same can be said for the medical industry. When custodians or commercial cleaning teams have a clear starting point, it is easier to keep the educational or medical facility safe and clean for everyone.
Isn’t Using Sanitizing Agents Enough?
Infection control is more than just sanitization. It’s the purification and eradication of potential airborne or liquid viral strains. While Clorox wipes and Lysol sprays are effective at attacking bacteria, some methods of using these products are not effective. For the best antibacterial cleaning, do not reuse any cleaning wipes or materials, as these increase the risk of spreading around more bacteria and germs.
After addressing common surfaces, it’s key to disinfect materials that children and staff may touch and have frequent hand to mouth contact. Consider disinfecting books, toys, musical instruments and stuffed animals with disinfectant spray that attacks a wide array of bacteria and viruses.
Is There a Problem with Using Natural Cleaners for Disinfection?
Natural cleaners like homemade astringents and sterilizing liquids can be used for disinfection, but they do require more elbow grease to be effective. Natural non-toxic cleaning agents usually contain vinegar, baking soda and/or lemon/other citrus oils. Be careful not to combine these with bleach or ammonia, as these may cause chemical burns and other catastrophic chemical reactions.
What Are Other Ways to Prevent Germs and Bacteria from Spreading?
Frequent checks into air ducts and air filter pads can help significantly reduce airborne irritants in the building. Replace and clean when necessary to improve efficiency.
Dormant bacteria can also be found in flooring. Vacuuming only cleans at the surface level. Weekly or monthly hot water extraction eradicates germs at a deeper level, reducing the risk of infection and increasing the lifespan of the carpet. Hard floor surfaces like hardwood, vinyl and tile require a different approach. Most flooring surfaces have pores where bacteria, dirt and grime can become deeply embedded. Hot water extraction is one way to reach these areas. Extreme situations may call for a strip and reseal floor restoration to eradicate stubborn stains or remove embedded dirt. Don’t forget about the baseboards and any other areas that have dirt/debris build-up.
True infection control comes from tackling both airborne and direct-contact viruses. Make sure signs are posted in restrooms outlining the proper hand-washing method and reminding students, teachers, medical staff, and patient to wash up before leaving. It is also helpful to install hand sanitizer stations around high-risk areas, such as doorways, near the cafeteria and hallways outside of restrooms.
Students and medical staff perform at their best when their environment is clean and healthy. Spreading awareness of proper sanitation methods is only the first step toward achieving total infection control. The next step is developing a plan for keeping the school or medical facility clean and sanitized throughout cold and flu season. This is where a professional infection control team can help by working with existing custodians and administration to execute a strategy for sanitizing surfaces and eliminating germs at their source. Protect patients, student and staff by requesting quotes from local commercial cleaning companies for infection control services.
Dominic Toscani, owner of Anago Cleaning Services of Philadelphia, provides commercial janitorial services for many Philadelphia schools, medical offices and other businesses. He and his cleaning team put infection control and green cleaning at the forefront of every building’s unique cleaning strategy. If you would like to get a free cleaning quote for your Pennsylvania business, contact Dominic by email, website contact form or by phone: 1.888.941.6266.