The Best Ways to Disinfect Your Business Before Reopening
After months of quarantine and lockdown, the country is slowly starting to reopen, with businesses welcoming back customers who will be learning a “new normal” when it comes to dealing with the effects of Covid-19. While customers may be eager to get back to their old spending habits, they are concerned about how safe it is to shop, work and dine in the age of Coronavirus. Reassuring your customers that you have considered “how to disinfect my business,” and taken the necessary steps is the best way to give them the best possible experience.
Before opening to the public, there are several things that you should do to sanitize and disinfect your business to make it as safe as possible.
Create a Plan
The first thing you will need to do is devise a plan for how you will sanitize your business. This plan will depend heavily on the type of business you own. A restaurant or food service business will require deeper sanitizing of utensils, surfaces and cookware.
High touch businesses will need to plan for a longer and deeper disinfecting routine than a low touch business. If your customers are going to be touching and interacting with your products, you will need a plan to regularly sanitize your business to ensure the safety of your customers. Will they be touching clothing items? Will they be spending more than 15-20 minutes in the business? You will need to thoroughly clean high-touch surfaces periodically throughout the day.
How Will Your Business Enforce Social Distancing?
One of the main concerns that business owners have is how to enforce social distancing guidelines while still providing a high level of service to their customers. Some have placed markers on the floor to show customers how much space they should leave between themselves and other patrons. Others require masks for service, while still others have installed shields between cashiers and customers. Some restaurants are blocking off seating areas so that there is adequate space between diners.
Implementing Your Plan
After you have decided exactly what needs to be sanitized and disinfected, the next step is to implement those steps. Brief your crew on what needs to be done, ensuring that each team member has the same instructions. This will ensure uniformity and prevent your team from overlooking necessary steps. Create a timeline for sanitizing. Because the virus can survive on surfaces for days, you will need to disinfect your business multiple times before opening.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institutes of Health, the Coronavirus can live on:
- Glass: Up to 5 days
- Wood: Four days
- Plastic and stainless steel: Three days
- Cardboard: 24 hours
- Copper: Four hours
This means that you will need to devise a plan of cleaning that correlates with the life of the virus. Clean glass surfaces like windows, countertops and shelves last as the virus is more likely to survive on those places.
Wait 24 Hours Before You Start Your Sanitization Process
There are some businesses that can remain closed for 24 hours before a deep clean and others that cannot. Churches, office buildings, car dealerships, daycare centers, schools and retail stores are most likely to be able to shut down for an entire day before cleaning, so plan to close up shop before bringing in the team to clean, sanitize and disinfect. By closing for 24 hours prior to cleaning, you can ventilate the business so that any lingering particles in the air will dissipate, making your business safer for your cleaning team.
Make sure that your team is wearing the proper personal protective equipment not only to ensure their safety, but to protect your business from employees who may re-introduce the virus into your space.
Pay Attention to High-Touch Surfaces
While it is important to clean and disenfect your entire business, there are some areas that will require more attention than others. High touch areas are those that will be most likely to host the virus, so your team will need to disinfect these more frequently than others.
–Doorknobs: When your business reopens, disinfect the doorknobs hourly
–Elevator buttons: If your business is in a large office building, the elevator button will be one of the hottest spots for transmission of the virus. Clean this hourly
–Railings: Escalator and stair railings are frequently touched and will need to be cleaned and sanitized regularly throughout the day
–Restrooms: Door handles, flushers and sinks are some of the most critical places that your team will need to sanitize. Develop a plan to keep these surfaces safe by installing no-touch soap and paper towel dispensers, if possible
–Kitchens and break rooms: Your employees are eating, talking and touching multiple surfaces, so be sure to thoroughly clean all of these high-touch surfaces then sanitize them for maximum protection
–Office machines: Copy machines, postage meters, workstations and printers are high touch surfaces that can host the virus, so be sure to disinfect these as well
–Point of sale keypads: If you are in retail, your customers will be touching the credit card key pads or using a pen or their finger to sign for transactions. Be sure to disinfect these as well
The Right Products for the Job
Cleaning every surface before you sanitize, disinfect and deodorize is important as well. This is especially true for hard surfaces like floors, shelves and doors. By cleaning first, you will remove all germs and pathogens before you sanitize to kill any lingering bacteria.
You can either purchase CDC-recommended products for use in cleaning and sanitizing or make your own. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a list of recommended cleaning and disinfecting products that you can help you to prepare your business for reopening. They include, but are not limited to germicides, alkaline cleaners and bleaches. These products are meant to be used after you have completed a thorough cleaning of all of your surfaces. They can be used both during the sanitizing process and periodically after your business opens. Disinfectant wipes are especially useful in keeping surfaces clean while customers and staff are in your business.
Replace old items with new, especially those that are porous and can trap bacteria. If you are running a pediatrician’s office, for example, you will need to replace the soft toys and books in your waiting room and deodorize hard toys if you don’t choose to throw them away.
Your New Clean Normal
Ensure Personal Protection
Consider putting long-term policies in place that will protect your employees and prevent the re-introduction and spread of the virus. Install hand sanitizer machines in various points around your workplace and encourage your employees to use them. Post hand washing signs around the office and send out company-wide memos that encourage good hygiene habits. Consider providing masks for office employees to protect them from the transmission of the virus.
Consider New Policies
In the wake of the global pandemic, many companies are considering new policies that ensure the safety of both customers and staff. Some offices are no longer allowing delivery people to enter the office, instead arranging for one person to meet them to accept packages and food. Retail stores are limiting how many patrons can enter the store, while others are enforcing social distancing rules while shopping. Think about what policies you can implement to keep everyone safe in your business.
The Covid-19 crisis has many asking, “how can I disinfect my business to make it safe for everyone?” By deep cleaning, sanitizing and creating new safe policies, you can ensure a safe and pleasant experience for everyone.