With COVID-19 in the rearview mirror, it’s safe to say we’ve all learned the importance of health, and hygiene and now know the correct amount of time to wash one’s hands. The last thing anyone needs is another reason to be away from our work besties any longer due to illness being brought into the workplace due to lack of cleanliness.  

With masks, gloves, constant sanitizing, barriers, and mass social distancing being a somewhat distant memory, how do we go about continuing to protect ourselves? How often should we clean and disinfect offices to keep everyone healthy as things go back to normal and we have more face-to-face interactions with coworkers and clients?

Throughout this article, you will learn what the biggest viral threats are, how to properly disinfect your workplace, and the frequency with which it should be done. Once you’ve learned what to look out for and how to keep your workspace clean, you are bound to have a few questions. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered there too. You will find commonly asked questions and answers following the end of the article to help answer any questions you may have thought of while reading.

Common Viruses Found in Your Office

COVID-19 didn’t magically eradicate other viruses threatening healthy individuals in the workplace. There are many illnesses in addition to covid, colds, and the flu with the ability to pass from person to person, leaving us homebound, in bed, or sitting in a doctor’s office. Even though working remotely is an option now, being productive and firing on all cylinders can be tough when you are sick.

Here’s a crash course on the different viruses to look out for at work. You’ll also learn how to clean an office effectively to keep you, and everyone around you, feeling and performing their best.

Influenza (Flu)

The flu comes with a fever, chills, headaches, muscle aches, fatigue, runny nose, and a cough. You can be contagious for 1-7 days, potentially affecting those around you. Flu shots can help prevent sickness and lessen the severity of symptoms from influenza. Other ways to protect against influenza are avoiding contact with anyone who’s sick, disinfecting high-touch areas, hand-washing, and avoiding touching your face.

Rhinovirus (Common Cold)

The common cold, scientifically called rhinovirus, causes coughing, sneezing, sore throat, stuffy nose, congestion, and sometimes aches. Someone with a cold may be contagious for 1-5 days. Avoid close contact with someone who’s sick, wash your hands, avoid touching your face, and disinfect anything you touch frequently to prevent the spread of harmful germs.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV)

Coughing, sore throat, fever, stuffy/runny nose, headaches, and decreased appetite are all symptoms of RSV. It can be contagious for 3-8 days. To prevent this respiratory virus, avoid smoking and secondhand smoke, keep your distance from someone who’s sick, keep hygienic habits, and disinfect.

Streptococcus (Strep Throat)

The symptoms of strep include throat pain, difficulty swallowing, swollen tonsils and lymph nodes, headache, fever, and chills. Untreated strep throat can be contagious for up to three weeks, but after treatment, it’s only contagious for up to 24 hours. Covering a cough, avoiding close contact, handwashing, disinfecting, and not touching your face are helpful steps to prevent contracting strep.

Gastroenteritis (Stomach Flu)

If you have a fever, stomach cramps, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle aches, it might be gastroenteritis. With the stomach flu, you may be at risk of infecting others for 1-6 days. It’s important to wash your hands thoroughly and frequently and be extra cautious when washing and preparing fruits and veggies. Create distance between anyone who’s sick and their personal items.

Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye)

Pink eye causes eye discharge with redness, burning, itchiness, and tearing, and it can be contagious over a period of 3-7 days. Anyone can help prevent this with personal hygiene like clean washcloths, towels, and pillowcases, and avoiding close contact with someone who’s infected.

Common Viruses Found in Your Office

Office Disinfecting and Cleaning Frequency to Keep Workplace Safe from Germs and Viruses

When thinking about how to properly clean an office, how often it needs to be disinfected, or how much work it takes to clean an office, the answer varies and depends on a multitude of factors. 

Some of the factors to consider are how large the space is, how close people are to each other, how many people share the space, and what the high-traffic touch areas are. Other things to consider in addition to these are what the ventilation is like, which spaces and surfaces are we talking about specifically, and if anyone has gotten sick recently.

Light Disinfecting and Cleaning

When we say ‘light’ office disinfecting and cleaning, we mean the day-to-day tasks that can be done by employees daily or as needed. These tasks consist of throwing away the trash, tidying their space, cleaning up after themselves in terms of small messes, and wiping down or disinfecting desks and frequently touched surfaces.

Hint: It’s wise to encourage employees to disinfect their smartphones at the beginning and/or end of the day, since cell phones may carry ten times the bacteria of most toilet seats.

Regular Office Cleaning and Disinfecting

We refer to frequent but more intensive cleaning and disinfecting by professional office cleaning services as ‘regular’ office disinfecting and cleaning. 

Unlike ‘light’ cleaning, it’s neither financially nor environmentally necessary to have cleaning professionals come through and perform these thorough and specialized tasks repeatedly each work day. Depending on the workplace and the type of space and surfaces, cleaning daily, once or a few times per week after hours may be what is needed.

Professional office cleaning services can handle basic daily cleaning and regular disinfection of the workspace, breakroom, restroom, and lobby areas.

  • Removing trash, vacuuming or sweeping floors, cleaning kitchen spills, sinks, microwaves, and coffee makers, and arranging chairs. 
  • Wiping all surfaces around the desk area. Sanitizing major touchpoints like keyboards and computer mice, especially if this is not expected of the employees who use the workspace.
  • Restocking bathroom hand soap and tissue, touch points should be cleaned and sanitized. 
  • Floors, glass, and touchpoints at the entryways and high-traffic areas like doorknobs, elevator buttons, and handrails should also be sanitized.

Deep Office Disinfecting and Cleaning

Regular disinfection and deep cleaning measures that may occur weekly or several times per week include vacuuming, mopping floors, emptying refrigerators, washing windows, and cleaning upholstery. Usually, more intensive cleaning like top-to-bottom, exhaustive deep cleaning/disinfecting sessions, dusting out-of-reach spots, and cleaning vents is less frequent.

However, if someone has recently gotten sick with something that could put coworkers at risk, immediate and thorough deep cleaning and disinfecting is recommended.

Office Deep Cleaning and Disinfection Procedures to Fight Viruses

When you outsource office cleaning to a professional janitorial service provider be sure to ask about their flexibility in adjusting cleaning procedures. If your goal is to reduce the presence and spread of viruses by disinfecting, you may need them to clean more thoroughly.

Here are some basics on the frequency and methods of surface disinfecting and cleaning to help minimize harmful germs and viruses for a clean workplace and healthy employees. A good starting point is the CDC’s current recommendations on cleaning and disinfecting to help mitigate Covid.

In most cases, cleaning once daily with soap or detergent products should be sufficient to get rid of the Covid virus on surfaces and generally keep people healthy. But the more crowded or at-risk people are, or if the space is poorly ventilated, the more often you should conduct regular cleaning and disinfecting to get rid of viruses and germs.

After cleaning with soap or detergent, EPA List N disinfectant solutions can kill remaining germs and reduce the risk of infection even more. Disinfecting is advised in crowded high-traffic areas, poorly ventilated spaces, and spaces shared by people at heightened risk of infection from Covid or other illnesses. You should disinfect a facility if anyone who is sick has been there in the last 24 hours.

If Covid or another virus is already circulating around the office, it may be wise to place extra focus on disinfecting high-traffic areas. Disinfecting before and after the use of any frequently touched items like desks, keyboards, phones, and equipment is also recommended. More thorough disinfecting is a good idea at the beginning and end of the day and in shared spaces.

Determine What Needs to Be Cleaned

The type and frequency of cleaning/disinfecting can depend on the type of surface. Consider that the flu viruses A and B typically last for as long as 24-48 hours on hard, nonporous surfaces like plastic and stainless steel. However, fabric only holds most germs for 8-12 hours.

Clean High-Touch Surfaces

‘High-touch’ objects and surfaces or frequent touchpoints are the most important spots to clean and disinfect at least once a day to fight viruses. They present the most opportunity for cross-contact that promotes the spread of infection. 

For example, a single doorknob might spread germs throughout an entire business or office and contaminate 40-60% of people in just two to four hours.

Other dirty surfaces that are considered to be high touch points include keyboards, pens, phones, desks, tables, counters, faucets, toilets, light switches, railings, and elevator buttons.

Ensure Yourself and Others are Protected

It always helps to cough and/or sneeze into the elbow and not touch your face. Practice and encourage adequate handwashing with soap and water, scrubbing for at least 20 seconds.

Understand the safe and proper use of cleaning products, have wipes, antibacterial spray, and other disinfectant supplies on hand as needed in the workspace.

Disinfect Safely When Needed

During cold and flu season, or when Covid and other bugs are making their round in the workplace, be sure to disinfect and use safe cleaning procedures.

Know which disinfectant solutions, i.e. EPA List N products, work against Covid. Misuse can cause safety risks, so be sure to follow the directions on the label, including application and safety information. 

Be aware that some cleaning products can trigger individuals’ asthma. Use PPE, ventilation, and proper storage, and dilute if needed. Avoid direct contact with the body to prevent safety risks when using cleaning/disinfecting products.

Avoid Common Viruses in Your Office

Other Office Surfaces Needing Attention

Some surfaces require unique considerations. Whereas most hard surface cleaning is fairly straightforward, soft surfaces, electronics, appliances, and outdoor areas may need to be tended to differently.

Professional office cleaning services can bring a wealth of expertise in various types of spaces, surfaces, and methods of surface disinfection. Understanding ‘how much cleaning companies charge to clean offices,’ is important when considering what professional janitorial service to employ. They should adjust pricing to reflect specialized services you need, including deep cleaning, disinfecting, and soft surfaces, tech/appliances, etc.

Soft Surfaces Such as Rugs and Carpets

In addition to regular vacuuming, you can find designated soaps, detergents, and cleaners to use on rugs, carpets, and upholstery. Check the EPA’s List N for disinfectants approved for soft surface cleaning.

Electronics Gadgets/Appliances

Follow manufacturer instructions, cross-reference List N from the EPA, and try applying a wipeable cover to electronics to ease cleaning and disinfecting. Alcohol-based cleaning products dry quickly, which can be ideal for electronic surfaces.

Outdoor Areas

There’s no need to spray antibacterial spray, cleaning products, or disinfectants on wooden outdoor surfaces like benches and tables. Instead, clean any plastic or metal railings, seating, and tables regularly.

FAQs on Office Disinfection Methods

What kills viruses and germs that live on surfaces in the workplace?

Standard cleaning with soap or detergent is usually enough to kill viruses and germs including COVID-19. Sometimes, surfaces may need deep-cleaning procedures and disinfecting.

How long can viruses and germs live on surfaces in the workplace?

Soft surfaces can hold germs for 8-12 hours, but the flu lives on hard surfaces for a day or two.

What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination?

High-touch surfaces, a.k.a. frequent touchpoints, like doorknobs, elevator buttons, railings, desk areas, and phones are pretty dirty surfaces and the main culprits in the spread of infection.

Keeping Your Office Healthy Returning to In-Person

For many of us, this is the first cold and flu season back at work now that the eye of the Covid storm is behind us. There’s no need to be nervous so long as you know the best disinfecting practices and light, regular, or deep-cleaning procedures to reduce the spread of germs and viruses around the office.

Identify and frequently clean high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, desk areas, and phones. Know how to safely clean and disinfect other areas and surfaces and how often.

The best way to keep viruses and germs under control is to trust the expertise of a professional janitorial service offering impeccable customized cleaning services and personal attention to the needs of any space.

For the regular/deep cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting services you need on the schedule that works best for you, contact Dallas Janitorial Services for a quote.

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