Timing Your Covid-19 Cleaning: Our Advice for Every Situation

If you’re a building owner, facility or property manager, or responsible for making important decisions about a facility or building, you’re probably considering performing some combination of deep cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing, given the current Coronavirus pandemic.

You may be wondering whether to have your facility cleaned now, or wait and have it done later. Since it’s unclear when this crisis will end and when our lives will return to normal, COIT wants to provide our professional advice for timing your Covid-19 cleaning.

IF YOUR BUILDING IS CURRENTLY UNOCCUPIED DUE TO THE COVID CRISIS AND YOU PLAN TO REOPEN AT SOME POINT IN THE FUTURE, CLEAN NOW.

There are three good reasons why:

1 You’ll be ready. Cleaning now means your building will be ready for occupants as soon as you want to reopen, and you’ll be able to hit the ground running. Scrambling to find professionals to disinfect when you need to reopen is not a good idea. Delaying resuming business because your facility hasn’t been properly cleaned is worse.

2 You’ll beat the rush. If offices, government buildings, schools, and other facilities all start to reopen at roughly the same time, companies like COIT will be inundated with cleaning and disinfecting requests. Chances are, if you decide to have the work performed at that point, you may find that no company has the personnel available.

3 It’s safer. The best time to clean, sanitize, or disinfect a building is when it’s empty. Crews are able to access the entire building without having to work around occupants. This is safer—both for your occupants and our employees—and ensures all areas of the facility will be disinfected.

IF YOU ARE AN ESSENTIAL FACILITY STILL OPERATING AT THIS TIME, CLEAN NOW.

Sanitizing and disinfecting now, and on an ongoing basis throughout the pandemic, will help keep your occupants safe and ease their concerns. Even when “social distancing” practices are observed, the CDC reports the Coronavirus can last for days on surfaces.

In addition, we know that occupants are uncomfortable reporting to work given the risk of becoming ill. Therefore, regularly disinfecting and sanitizing can go a long way to prevent the spread of the virus, lessen anxiety, and keep individuals healthy and working.

If you choose to clean, sanitize, and disinfect your facility still open and operating, we make these recommendations:

  • Schedule the cleaning for a time when occupants aren’t present. This is for the safety of everyone, and also to ensure the building is thoroughly disinfected. If this is not possible (as in the case of facilities that are open 24 hours a day), we can work with you to identify a solution.

  • Set up recurring cleaning. A sanitized facility will become reinfected as soon as a sick individual enters the premises. Therefore, disinfecting on a continuing basis is recommended to provide the best health and safety outcomes.

  • Let your occupants know what steps you are taking. If you follow the recommendation above, occupants will not see or interact with our technicians, so let them know these measures are being taken to protect them. This will help put minds at ease and keep them engaged in essential activities.

IF YOUR BUILDING HAS HAD A KNOWN OR SUSPECTED CASE OF COVID-19 INSIDE IT, WAIT BEFORE CLEANING.

This may sound counterintuitive, but it’s a good idea to wait to disinfect if there is a known or suspected case of Coronavirus inside your facility. As we’ll explain below, the longer you wait, the safer and less expensive the cleaning will be. That said, it is clear that you must clean, sanitize, and disinfect any facility with a known case of Covid-19 prior to that building being reoccupied.

There are different estimates for how long the Coronavirus survives without an infected individual present. Information from the CDC and Harvard Medical School indicates that the virus can last for up to 3 days on plastic and metal, so it would be wise to wait at least that long prior to doing any work. The bottom line is the longer you wait, the lower the likelihood that any virus is still active in your facility.

Companies such as COIT have different sanitation and disinfecting protocols, depending on whether known or suspected virus is present or not. In the case of the former, the work requires a stricter form of cleaning and a higher level of PPE (personal protective equipment) to be worn by our crews. This PPE is in short supply right now, resulting in higher prices. We are also reluctant to acquire PPE that could otherwise be used by medical professionals. Therefore, if we can avoid using the “known or suspected” virus protocols, the work will be less expensive and the better it will be for everyone.

Of course, it’s imperative to clean, sanitize, and disinfect any building with a known or suspected case of Coronavirus before the building is reoccupied, no matter how much time has transpired. The CDC reported that Coronavirus was found on the Diamond Princess cruise ship 17 days after the last passenger had left. Companies such as COIT need to know how long it has been since anyone with known/suspected virus has been in the facility and whether other individuals have been present since. Please be open and transparent with these answers to ensure the proper procedures are followed and everyone remains safe.

IF YOU DO NOT FIT INTO ANY OF THE ABOVE GROUPS, USE YOUR BEST JUDGMENT.

The Covid-19 pandemic is an uncertain and fast changing situation. Given that the future is unclear, it may be prudent to wait and see what happens.

However, companies like COIT expect to be inundated with cleaning and sanitation requests as public offices, schools, and government buildings start to reopen. This means there’s a real chance companies like ours will be unable to provide the crews necessary to keep up with the demand for services. This may be further compounded by potential shortages of disinfectant or PPE.

Weighing these factors, whether to clean now or wait is a decision to be made by each owner, facility manager, or property manager, based on his or her specific situation. We recommend you use the best information available and remember that no one knows what the future holds.

Whenever you decide to clean, sanitize, and disinfect, COIT is here for you and happy to help.