If You’re Deep Cleaning, You Need to Do it Right for the Pandemic

If you have managed to get your hands on hand sanitizer, then you may be one with Robert Irwin in celebrating the rare find. Shortages have increased the panic since hand sanitizer is a great way to quickly and accurately clean surfaces and hands, and something everyone knows is safe. Unfortunately, as the Crocodile Hunting family can point out, it’s hard to find. As a property manager, you want to keep the property clean and sanitary. So now what?

The Center for Disease Control has released information regarding how to sanitize an area that may have, or definitely has, come in contact with Corona Virus Disease 2019, or COVID-19. They did this for a common audience with access to common household items and not medical personnel with access to high grade equipment. This is a good jumping point for property managers who need to clean a common area such as laundry room or unit that has recently been vacated. First up, there are two ways you need to sanitize the property: cleaning versus disinfecting.

According to the CDC:

      • Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. It does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
      • Disinfecting refers to using chemicals, for example, EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
  • Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. It does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

  • Disinfecting refers to using chemicals, for example, EPA-registered disinfectants, to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

You know all about cleaning (disinfecting) common surfaces such as door handles and the elevator button. This is helpful for maintaining a clean building for residents while they use laundry facilities, and other common areas with high traffic. The Environmental Protection Agency has recently created a list of disinfecting products that “meet the criteria for use against SARS-CoV-2, ” although other products may meet these needs.

EPA-Registered Disinfectants Include: Windex Disinfectant Cleaner, Clorox Multi Surface Cleaner + Bleach, Lysol Disinfecting Wipes, and more.

The products are sorted by EPA registration number, active ingredients, company, use site, and other information. Use this information to your benefit to ensure you are cleaning with vetted disinfecting products. If you already have cleaning supplies, try searching the ‘Product Name’ column with the name of the product you plan to use to see if it is listed. If it isn’t, try searching the ‘Active Ingredient’  to see if it may be useful. If you are looking to restock your cleaning supplies, under Use Site, search by ‘Residential’ to see what products come up, as they will be easier to come by and recognize product names.

Once you have the proper supplies, divide surfaces into two categories. Porous versus non porous surfaces need different styles of cleaning.

Hard surfaces need a kind of ‘pre-cleaning.’ Wear disposable gloves that are disposed of afterwards, or special reusable gloves that are ONLY used for COVID-19 cleaning, not any other purpose. Rinse surface with detergent, soap, and water. After this, the EPA has these steps for hard, nonporous surface cleaning.

      • For disinfection, most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
      • A list of products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 is available here. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (such as concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).
      • Additionally, diluted household bleach solutions (at least 1000ppm sodium hypochlorite) can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application, ensuring a contact time of at least 1 minute, and allowing proper ventilation during and after application. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
      • Prepare a bleach solution by mixing: 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water.
  • For disinfection, most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.

  • A list of products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 is available here. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (such as concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).

  • Additionally, diluted household bleach solutions (at least 1000ppm sodium hypochlorite) can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application, ensuring a contact time of at least 1 minute, and allowing proper ventilation during and after application. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.

  • Prepare a bleach solution by mixing: 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water.

Soft, porous items may need spot cleaning. This includes carpets, rugs, drapes, curtains, and furniture coverings such as lounge chairs and sofas. If it is possible to launder items, go ahead and follow the manufactures instructions. Deep clean carpets with items approved of on the previously linked EPA list: search for products that work on porous surfaces.

Soft, porous items may need spot cleaning. This includes carpets, rugs, drapes, curtains, and furniture coverings such as lounge chairs and sofas. If it is possible to launder items, go ahead and follow the manufactures instructions. Deep clean carpets with items approved of on the previously linked EPA list: search for products that work on porous surfaces.

Electronics need to be cleaned as well. It is recommended to use products with 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens and dry them after. Otherwise, follow manufacture instructions for cleaning.

If you don’t have a hired service to clean for you, don’t fret. Hired services for cleaning are great, and they are dedicated to one focus while you work on everything else. With social distancing however, inviting new people in, even if they are there to clean, is more complicated than it was before. With a hired service, make sure you ask a few questions.

    • Will you be wearing a face mask?
    • Have you been in contact with many people?
    • What products are you using?
    • What are you doing to protect against COVID-19?

If you are cleaning by yourself, you will be following social distancing guidelines. Not only that, but you can feel confident in the products you chose to use, followed EPA instructions, and you can sleep well knowing for sure how thorough you were with cleaning, protecting your residents, and protecting yourself.

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Nicole Seidner

Cole Seidner is a copywriter here at the CIC Blog. She holds a degree in Writing from Savannah College of Art and Design with a focus in creative nonfiction. Her free time is spent taking pictures of her dogs or reading deep dive analysis on movies that she hasn’t seen.

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