Beware of Overnight “Disinfecting” Companies

We’ve been in the commercial cleaning business for 20 years, and have many medical offices, clinics, nursing homes, and labs around Chicago as clients which consistently need medical-grade cleaning and disinfecting. Other clients such as schools and churches have regularly contracted us to sanitize their spaces when flu season was nearing full swing. However, during the last few weeks, we’ve seen an onslaught of companies, seemingly coming out of the woodwork, that are suddenly, “Disinfecting Professionals.” Not being able to differentiate an office cleaning company that dropped their duster for a sprayer last week, and a professional following EPA and CDC guidelines, can be difficult. It can also potentially lead to severe consequences as some companies are slowly discovering.

Diluted Bleach and a Sprayer Doesn’t Make a Disinfection Professional

No disinfectant works instantly. No disinfectant kills 100 percent of the time. Certainly, bleach also isn’t the silver bullet, especially when heavily diluted. But, it is cheap.  Therefore, you’ll see cleaning companies praise bleach’s effectiveness and endorse its use, not fully understanding all of the implications of their choice.  Proper disinfection is a process, not a single-step activity. Areas must be first prepped by precleaning.  Spray and pray doesn’t work when viruses can shield themselves beneath a layer of dust or grime. Surfaces need to be exposed so that chemicals can penetrate and work effectively, literally disassembling the virus.  This time is called dwell time, and it varies by chemical. The longest however, is about 10 minutes. This also means that proper disinfection is non-negotiable. The most important steps, and the ones fly-by-night companies casually skip, are the last two: wiping down the residue and drying off the surfaces. This is critical since disinfectants leave a sticky residue where pathogens can quickly regroup if not completely removed. If the company you’re about to hire doesn’t follow this process, give our disinfecting services team a call, and we’ll have an estimate for full professional disinfecting for you within one-two hours.

Disinfection Services Game of Virus Roulette

We continue to learn more about this virus, but the knowledge is sometimes contradictory. For example, how long the virus lives on surfaces has been discussed, studied, and reevaluated weekly. The real answer is; it depends.  It depends on the material, the temperature, the porousness of the material. For example: cardboard 24 hours, whereas hard metals such as doorknobs and railings, over 1 week. When disinfecting, you have to assume the odds are stacked against you, and cover everything, leaving almost nothing to chance. The one spot you miss may be the Achilles heel which opens the flood gates. Because when your employees are told the area is disinfected, they assume it is now safe. At this point, it’s better to not disinfect than to do it incorrectly and greatly increase transmission rates.

Seven Things to Consider when Hiring a Disinfecting Company

Based on our twenty-plus years in this industry, we put together a list of the top questions to think through (or rethink) when hiring a disinfecting service for your facility or office.

  • What are they doing with their PPE? – Used PPE (personnel protective equipment) must be dealt with or disposed of properly. If the service you just hired is repurposing their PPE from the previous job and now is spreading more viruses than their killing, you might want to rethink hiring them.
  • How long have they been in the disinfecting business? – If the company suddenly appeared out of nowhere just like the virus itself, and they have no background in commercial or industrial cleaning, you may want to rethink.
  • Are they following or even know about EPA & CDC Guidelines? – If they merely throw out those acronyms to gain credibility, but haven’t actually implemented them, read them, or even printed them out, you want to rethink.
  • Are they just spraying or fogging like it’s the wild west? – Hospital disinfectants, such as the ones Rainbow uses from Spartan Chemical, have a specific dwell time and cleaning process associated with them. As a final step, they need to be wiped off in order to be most effective. If your cleaning company is simply just spraying, you might want to rethink.
  • Do they know what list N is? – List “N” is the list of products approved by the EPA for COVID-19 decontamination. If they have never heard of “List N,” you may want to find someone else.
  • Were they only doing office cleaning just last week? – As office cleaning companies lose customers when offices across Chicago shut down, these maid services now are forced to diluted bleach into a fancy sprayer. Reemerging as office disinfecting pros, they simply lack the experience to properly fight COVID-19. If you’re approached by one, you might want to rethink.
  • Do they claim they are certified? – Simply put, there is no EPA, CDC, or WHO certification for cleaning or disinfecting companies fighting COVID-19. There is for processes, chemicals, manufacturers, but not for cleaning or disinfecting companies themselves. If they do claim to be certified, ask to see their certification. Then, give us a call to actually get disinfection done right.

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