The COVID-19 outbreak has led to renewed calls for standardised terminology and practices of “deep cleaning” by the commercial cleaning industry.
It comes as many cleaning contractors complete deep cleans, also referred to as detailed or infectious cleaning, amid fears of contamination and spread of COVID-19 in commercial and residential facilities.
The term deep cleaning is understood to refer to a large scale and more intensive disinfecting and sanitising of surfaces and high touchpoints, compared to regular cleaning, and is also understood to include pressure washing and deep scrubbing.
Bridget Gardner, director of HPC Solutions, who has recently developed a guide to cleaning for COVID-19 based on government advice and best practices, believes the lack of consistent terminology is causing massive confusion.
“The lack of agreed definitions for deep or infectious cleaning is a real problem. But underlying it is a lack of government guidance for cleaning during the coronavirus pandemic in commercial and institutional facilities.
“There is a lot of fear and opportunism happening. Businesses are offering ‘deep cleaning’ products and services without understanding the difference between preventing the spread of COVID-19, versus mitigation when there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19.
“There has to be a clear differentiation between prevention and decontamination in terms of risk, products, methods, PPE and price,” Gardner said.
According to the Australian Department of Health, routine environmental cleaning is divided into two groups: frequently touched surfaces including door handles, bedrails, tabletops and light switches, and minimally touched surfaces such as floors, ceilings, walls and blinds.
The department refers to ‘terminal cleaning’ as a complete and enhanced cleaning procedure that decontaminates an area following discharge or transfer of a patient with an infectious/communicable disease, sometimes also referred to as an ‘infectious clean’. It states terminal cleaning requires both thorough cleaning and disinfection for environmental decontamination.
The Department of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO) have also advised the use of sodium hypochlorite (chlorine bleach) for deactivating coronavirus on frequently touched surfaces.
There are several other types of disinfectants claiming antiviral activity, including: isopropanol, peracetic acid, quaternary ammonium compounds, or combinations of these.
Tony Gorgovski, CEO of BIC Services, which recently established a dedicated Pandemic Action Committee made up of all representatives from all levels of management, agrees there’s industry-wide confusion between deep/detailed cleaning, pandemic cleaning and forensic cleaning.
“They are three separate services which all have different risk factors. Pandemic cleaning requires specialised machinery, training and PPE equipment. We need a clear definition of terminology and we as cleaning contractors should be encouraging this because it ensures clarity and clarification for our clients and our operators,” Gorgovski said.
BIC Services, which has more than 2500 staff, has performed more than 20 pandemic COVID-19 cleans nationally.
“After this, clients are really going to look at how they procure cleaning services. We know it’s been a cost driven industry in the past, but clients are now seeing the value in those [contractors] that are able to offer additional and specialised services in times like these.
“We should embrace this as an industry. Cleaning is now being viewed by all teams as a critical service, not just another cost. This is what we all should be aiming for – our services to be viewed as a vital service for buildings to be maintained and we should collectively price our services accordingly.”
Comment below to have your say on this story.
If you have a news story or tip-off, get in touch at email@example.com.
Sign up to INCLEAN’s newsletter.