As restrictions start to lift, aged care facilities and cafés alike are wondering about COVID cleaning.
It’s true that, relatively, not a lot is known about COVID-19, as it’s a newly discovered coronavirus. Fortunately, we do have some experience with the six other viruses in the coronavirus family. COVID-19 behaves similar to the SARS-CoV coronavirus (SARS), which emerged in China in 2002 and spread to 30 countries.
Our experience with SARS tells us that COVID-19 can easily be cleaned with common household disinfectants. Very recent studies show that COVID-19 can survive for up to 72 hrs on plastic and stainless steel, less than 4 hrs on copper and less than 24 hrs on cardboard. After this time, the virus’s concentration on these surfaces is 1% of its original concentration. This means that although the virus is technically still present, the odds of it being able to infect you are minimal.
COVID cleaning in the home
So what does COVID cleaning look like? If you’ve just come home from the supermarket, it’s pretty straightforward: you can just clean your shopping bags with disinfectant. There is currently no confirmed transmission of COVID-19 through food or packaging, but to be safe, wipe down all items brought into the house. You also just need to wash your fruit and vegetables as normal. Don’t forget that ALL produce should be washed before preparing or eating! The best way to do this is to wash your hands with soap, then wash the fruit and veggies with clean water, then wash your hands again.
As the virus is commonly transferred by hand-to-face touching, it’s also a good idea to disinfect door knobs, light switches and mobile phones. Even taking off your shoes and leaving them at the front door when returning home will help combat COVID-19. You could also disinfect your handbag/satchel straps — anything that you might have touched when you were out. Not only does this potentially stop the spread of COVID-19 within your house, but it’s also good practice to help slow the spread of other illnesses, such as influenza.
As there are usually more people coming into workplaces, the requirements for cleaning are a little more particular. Organisations must understand the importance of a deep clean. All workplaces should be cleaned with hospital-grade anti-viral disinfectants. This will ensure that they not only use the right equipment, but that they also use higher-grade chemicals and ensure they upgrade their regular office clean further by disinfecting all shared points within the office. SafeWork Australia have an excellent resource page with information on how to clean your home and/or workplace, including what you should do if someone with a COVID diagnosis has been to your place of work.
Cleaning techniques can also make a difference to the risk of infection. Wear disposable gloves each time, and wiping in an ‘S’ shaped pattern not only ensures that the surface is well covered, but can also help prevent re-contamination. If you’re not sure whether you should be cleaning, disinfecting, or cleaning AND disinfecting, why not read our blog post ‘When to Clean and Disinfect? That is the Question’. It mostly discusses cleaning in a clinical setting, but it’s a good primer on the difference between the two, and might save you some unnecessary work.
If you’re looking for more information on what and how to clean to avoid spreading COVID-19, a number of government and industry bodies have released information on cleaning in a variety of settings. We’ve gathered these in a list below:
- Health Quality and Safety Commission NZ COVID-19 cleaning resources
- New Zealand Ministry of Health COVID-19 cleaning resources
- Queensland COVID-19 cleaning resources
- South Australian COVID-19 cleaning resources
- Tasmania COVID-19 cleaning resources
- Victoria COVID-19 cleaning resources
- Western Australia COVID-19 cleaning resources
- Australian Government COVID-19 cleaning resources
- SafeWork Australian COVID-19 cleaning resources
If you aren’t sure whether your current facility cleaning is sufficient, why not book in for a Bug Control audit? Our IPC consultants can let you know what to improve to make sure that your facility is safe and compliant.