In this blog, I thought I would start by going right between the eyes, asking this question as bluntly as possible; Can one sterilize a building against the COVID-19 virus? The short answer is yes. The real answer is “yes, but…” So, what is included in the “but” when the topic is disinfecting a building?
Let’s not complicate it. A building can be sterilized. But unless the building is perfectly airtight, climate and filtration controlled after the cleaning, the security of sterile, like Elvis Presley, “just left the building.” A sterile building equates to cleaned and closed - not used nor entered by anyone. The next person to enter may be carrying a virus or other germs and could deem our clean building “not clean anymore.” With this in mind, we can speak of building hygiene without getting carried away when we seek “sterile” in our homes and offices. After all, buildings are bit bigger and more complex than a bandage wrapper or roll of gauze. It’s a little harder to insure that a building is sterile. I’m not betting $5 that such a sterile building exists.
When we speak of building hygiene, there are a few problem areas we need to address. Whereas germs are more often shared by touch, airborne germs exist as well. Let’s discuss both surface and airborne contaminants. Many germs and viruses can live on surfaces and are transferred by touch. Hands touch dirty noses and mouths, then touch doorknobs, door jambs, handles, light switches, controls, tools, keypads, desks and countertops. When one touches these, he or she may pick up the germ. Then those hands touch faces or mouths. It’s a simple, vicious cycle.
Airborne viruses get a bit trickier. Colds and flus are often spread via sneezing or coughing. Bristol University study showed that the average sneeze or cough can project nearly 100,000 contagious germs into the air. Other data suggests that cough droplets can have an airborne life of up to 45 minutes. A COVID-19 Coronavirus infection at a convention (prior to quarantine orders, where many caught the virus) suggests that the airborne virus may remain in the air for up to three hours.
A full-scale building disinfection or sterilization effort has a combination of steps and procedures involved. Each building calls for its own tailored plan which matches needs with uniquely appropriate methods.
- Pre-clean: All surfaces and areas should be cleaned as normally done; floors mopped, glass cleaned, general ‘janitorial’ tasks.
- Touch point cleaning. Using the right technique for each situation, apply appropriate cleaning agent to high-touch areas and items. This would include handles of all kinds, handrails, knobs, levers (processing or factory work might require), keypads, touchscreens, non-porous seating materials, such as vinyl.
- Horizontal surfaces. This is where germs can settle. It is important to properly clean these surfaces, especially where accessible by touch, either directly or via incidental contact.
- Fogging/Misting. This is not the right treatment for every space (due to the purpose of the space or ventilation requirements after treatment) but is highly effective where large and/or content-full spaces prohibit cost-effective detailed hand cleaning. Vaporizers range from small room-size tools to those as large and as powerful as a leaf blower (great for high-ceilings in factories, warehouses, and high-vaulted facilities).
- On-going cleaning: Where constant human traffic exists and constant cleaning effort is needed (in hospital rooms, for instance), air scrubbers can be used as a maintenance strategy. This can be a costly idea, as filters and the machines (or rental of the machines) can add up but is nonetheless a means to a cleaner indoor air environment.
STOP Restoration uses EPA-registered cleaning agents for each sterilization effort we perform. A number of our choices are plant-based. We follow manufacturers’ kill claims and application protocols. STOP is an aggressive addition to building hygiene efforts in homes, commercial and institutional buildings.
We are here for any questions you may have at www.stoprestoration.com