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Cleaning and Disinfecting High Touch Surfaces: Proper Steps & Practices

Cleaning and Disinfecting High Touch Surfaces: Proper Steps & Practices

Did you know it can take as little as two hours for bacteria to spread across over 50% of the surfaces in your facility? 

That means all it takes is one sick employee to spread their germs.

You might be wondering how that’s possible, and it’s not because a sick employee is going around touching each and every surface in your building. It’s because of something called high touch surfaces.

More specifically, it’s because of how high touch surfaces promote the transmission and spread of bacteria through a facility. 

Today, we’re going to take a look at high touch surfaces, what they are, how to disinfect them, and when to clean them. 

What are High-Touch Surfaces?

High touch surfaces, also known as high touch points, are just surfaces that frequently come into contact with peoples’ hands throughout the day. 

High touch surfaces, like a door knob for example, easily facilitate the spread of germs because they are touched by a lot of people in a short span of time, who then go on to touch another surface, further spreading the bacteria.

Many viruses, like influenza, only survive for several hours in the air, but can survive for up to 2 days on a surface. If there is a virus on a high-touch surface, there’s no telling how many people can come into contact with it in that 2 day window.

That’s why frequently cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces is so important. By doing so, you are able to prevent the spread of germs, reducing overall illness at your facility. 

Examples of High Touch-Surfaces 

Here are some common examples of high touch surfaces that can be found across offices, schools, warehouses, and all types of different facilities:

  • Cell phones
  • Phones
  • Chair arm rests
  • Desk surfaces
  • Tables 
  • Door and window handles (including outside entrance doors and push bars)
  • Hand sanitizer/soap dispenser housing 
  • Keyboards, mice, touch screens 
  • Light switches 
  • Microwave, coffee maker controls 
  • Refrigerator/freezer handles 
  • Office Supplies (stapler, paper clip holder, etc.)
  • Printers and Copier controls 
  • Sink faucet handles/Sink surface & counter area 
  • Water faucet/cooler 

Cleaning and Disinfecting High Touch Surfaces: Everything You Need to Know 

Now that you have some examples, it’s important to create a routine that focuses on cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces. Focusing on these areas is the best way to prevent potential outbreaks in your facility. 

The best way to create a solid cleaning and disinfecting routine is to identify and call out high touch surfaces in your building’s standard operating procedures. 

This way, the information is available to all employees, not just those responsible for cleaning. It lets people know which surfaces should be cleaned more frequently than others, and creates awareness around high touch surfaces in general.  

How Often Should High Touch Surfaces be Cleaned

High touch surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected at least 2 or 3 times a day. Objects that are shared and get a lot of use can be done even more frequently. 

Other very high traffic surfaces should be cleaned after each use. This applies to objects and surfaces that are shared by multiple people, multiple times per day. For example, the control panel on a piece of machinery, or the steering wheel of a company vehicle. 

You must clean before disinfecting, otherwise you will not effectively remove illness-causing germs.  

Cleaning vs Disinfecting

There is a difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Cleaning is the act of physically removing germs and bacteria from a surface, while disinfecting is the act of killing all of the germs and bacteria on a surface. 

That being said, it isn’t more effective to focus on doing one over the other. Cleaning AND disinfecting high touch surfaces is the best way to combat the spread of germs. 

By cleaning a surface before you disinfect it, you remove most of the dirt, dust, and other particles that would otherwise make it hard for the disinfecting chemical to do its job. 

Often, cleaning with a quality detergent is enough to keep most germs in check. On average, cleaning agents are capable of removing up to 97% of the germs from a given surface. 

However, that 3% is nothing to ignore. That’s where disinfecting comes in. Cleaning does a great job of removing most germs and bacteria, but disinfectant is required to finish the job.

Of course, there are exceptions. For example, if you use a one-step cleaner/disinfectant then both steps are covered in one product. Keep in mind, though, that you should avoid using a one-step cleaner/disinfectant on heavily soiled surfaces. For example, if a surface is visibly soiled then the two-step process is required regardless of product claims.

In this scenario, it’s best to clean the surface outright before disinfecting. 

Final Thoughts

Cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces is an effective and easily adoptable method of combating sickness in the workplace. By identifying and targeting areas that are prone to bacteria growth and transmission, you’re able to reduce the spread of germs. 

A good place to start is with your business’ standard operating procedures. Make your cleaning crew aware of the high traffic areas around them, and the proper protocols for dealing with high touch surfaces.

It’s also a good idea to make sure that the people in your building have access to disinfecting products. This might mean putting disinfectant wipes near entryways, in elevators or conference rooms so that guests are empowered to clean before and after use of communal surfaces and objects. Even though some of these products are available to general consumers, an organization’s responsibilities under the Hazard Communication Standard still apply.

If you want to learn more about cleaning and disinfecting high touch surfaces or how they promote the spread of bacteria, reach out to an Imperial Dade location near you. 

One of our janitorial and sanitation experts will work with you to identify points for improvement in your cleaning and disinfecting routine. Call today to schedule a free consultation!

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