Four Things You Need To Know About No-Touch Disinfection

As we’ve always known, schools are where most students need to be, and they are now reopening while we’re still in the grips of the Covid-19 pandemic. Furthermore, we will also be entering another annual cold and flu season with its attendant absenteeism and other adverse health impacts. It’s enough to make anyone responsible for providing and maintaining healthy environments lose some sleep!

Disinfecting all of the critical high-touch objects in our buildings is a challenge for any housekeeping program at the best of times, even more so during periods of increased illness rates and outbreaks. However, we believe that an established technology known as No-Touch Disinfection (NTD) can help solve this problem. 

Through the use of electrostatic spray devices, NTD augments your current daily cleaning and disinfection practices, allowing you to ensure complete disinfectant coverage of all high touch surfaces economically and efficiently.  As you are probably aware, this approach is now being used to provide enhanced disinfection for everything from nursing homes to passenger planes to schools.

Implementing NTD can be easy once the facility’s requirements are appropriately matched to the correct application technology and disinfectant chemistry.  Once the technology is selected, education and training enable the safe deployment of NTD.

Here are some guidelines when evaluating NTD:

What is electrostatic spray application?

During periods of heightened threats of infection or actual outbreaks, you need to be able to ensure 100% coverage of all frequently touched surfaces and objects. Imperial Dade offers electrostatic and spray disinfection systems that can meet everyone’s budget and application requirements.  These units impart an electrostatic charge to the disinfectant to achieve 360 degree surface coverage. As a result, large areas can be effectively and efficiently treated economically.

Handheld Victory Electrostatic Sprayer

What needs to be considered when instituting a NTD program?

In an educational setting, the disinfectant needs to be matched to the organisms of most concern, be it the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus which causes the infection known as Covid-19, Influenza, Norovirus, MRSA, or any number of other bacteria, viruses, or fungi. Then, is it necessary to treat the high-touch objects on a weekly or more frequent schedule?  Also, will the areas to be treated be adjacent to occupied spaces?  Can corded equipment be used in the desired regions, or is there a need for battery-powered devices for portability?

Which disinfectants can be applied electrostatically?

Most importantly, the disinfectant chemistry for NTD needs to be compatible with this type of application equipment.  Is the disinfectant product approved or authorized for this application method, with electrostatic spray, mist, or fog?  What is the label dwell time requirements and the efficacy against the microorganisms of concern?  Regarding SARS-CoV-2, is the disinfectant on the EPA List N of products approved for use against the coronavirus?  Fortunately, according to the EPA website, products on List N are effective against all strains of SARS-CoV-2 as genetic changes to the virus do not impact the efficacy of disinfectants.  Finally, regarding your staff, what is the safety profile of the product and the recommended Personal Protective Equipment?

What types of NTD devices and disinfectants are available?

There are several manufacturers of NTD devices and chemistries that are available.  Many customers have found success with the corded Clorox Total 360 systems. However, many others prefer the ease and portability of the Victory Innovations line of battery-powered electrostatic sprayers.  Furthermore, the Victory units are designed to use a wide range of disinfectants, including peroxide and chlorinated tablets, so the chemistry can be tailored to meet the individual educational facility’s budget and infection prevention needs.

Clorox Total 360 System

Your Imperial Dade sales consultant has the resources, knowledge, and expertise to make the correct product recommendation for your specific needs.  Don’t hesitate to contact a branch near you to learn more about how No-Touch Disinfection can benefit your school.

Hand Hygiene – An Important Way to Beat COVID-19, the Flu, and Other Illnesses

If we have learned anything from our experience with COVID-19, we know that we are supposed to wash our hands.  Study after study shows that proper hand hygiene is the most critical thing we can do to prevent the spread of infection in education, healthcare, or any other field serving the public.  This is mainly in viral diseases, such as COVID-19, influenza, and other respiratory maladies. Even gastrointestinal viruses like norovirus can be controlled through proper hand hygiene.  Beyond COVID-19, the stakes remain high as colds, the flu, and norovirus outbreaks result in millions of lost school and work days and costs the economy tens of billions of dollars.

Unfortunately, even during the pandemic, research shows that poor compliance to proper hand hygiene continues to be a significant obstacle to controlling these illnesses, even in the highly regulated healthcare field where healthcare-associated infections are a constant threat. For example, while over 50% of students wash their hands in schools, less than 20% use soap.  Men are also less likely to wash their hands properly – come on, guys, we need to get into the game.

Poor compliance can be attributed to several different factors we can control.  The condition of the restroom and the supplies provided throughout the facility can and does encourage people to help keep their hands in a more hygienic condition.  The following four considerations can summarize these key actions.

1.            Hand Care Products that Encourage Use

Get rid of the bulk soap dispensers.  There has been significant development in hand soap formulations that improve performance and reduce skin irritation. In addition, hand soaps from many manufacturers come in hygienically sealed cartridges, eliminating contamination.  These are the types of products people are looking for when washing their hands away from home.  Remember, the idea is to encourage hand hygiene and not look at the expenditure only as a cost.

2.            Convenient Dispenser Locations

There should be sufficient dispensers in the restroom to facilitate the hand washing process.  In addition, hand sanitizer dispensers should also be available throughout the building.  As recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, alcohol hand sanitizer is effective against the SARS_CoV-2 coronavirus, as well as those pesky colds and flu viruses. It is a viable option for hand hygiene when hand washing isn’t an option.  However, as with hand soap in the restroom, empty hand sanitizer dispensers are a common complaint.  Dispensers need to be routinely checked and filled. 

3.            Access to Paper Towels and Facial Tissue

Simply put, most people like to dry their hands with paper towels, and most people don’t actually like hand dryers.  Paper towels provide for higher compliance, and the mere wiping of wet hands can remove bacteria and viruses through mechanical action.  But, just as with soap and sanitizer, empty dispensers discourage compliance.  Lastly, where practical, providing facial tissues is a great way to control cross-contamination from sneezes and runny noses. 

4.            Established Educational Programs

As with any behavior change, education is key. Every primary hand care and paper company can provide educational programs and materials appropriate for a wide range of audiences.  Whether it be elementary students, college campuses, or the workplace, tools are available to help promote effective hand hygiene.  Talk to your Imperial Dade sales consultant and find out if there is more that you can be doing to encourage this vital health and wellness behavior.

Visit https://imperialdade.com/Locations to find a branch near you.

Best Odor Control Practices for Carpets, Restrooms, Dumpsters, and More

Controlling odors in and around a facility is a common problem for most cleaning professionals. Odors can lurk in many places: carpets, restrooms, dumpsters, and more. The best way to eliminate odors is to understand the cause of the smell. Once you identify the problem, consult this list of solutions to control the offending odors.

CARPETS

  • Carpet odor stemming from a food source, vomit, or urine should be approached with a carpet sanitizer.
  • Using an extractor to kill the odor source is recommended. If you can still smell the odor after thoroughly rinsing the carpet, follow up with an enzyme product.
  • After extracting the carpet, use a carpet fan, not a box fan. It dries carpet faster. Be sure your carpet is dry in 24 hours, or there is a risk of mold bloom.
  • Pet odors can linger in carpets. Enzymatic digesters will get to the source, killing the odor and not just covering it up.

RESTROOMS

  • In restrooms, urine is often the source of odor. Disinfectants will not impact urine that has dried. If urine odor is present, use an enzyme. If you are using an enzyme, do not use a disinfectant in the same area. Disinfectants destroy the enzymes before they are able to digest the bacteria. 
  • Check the floor drains, a common source of the odor. If the trap in a floor drain dries out, it will emit sewer gas. Use a drain cleaner, enzyme, or water to keep drains odor-free.
  • Don’t forget to clean often missed spots. The base of toilets, under urinals, urinal throats, partitions, and walls are often overlooked. Ceilings should be cleaned once or twice a year.
  • While it doesn’t replace a good cleaning program, adding an air care unit to help with transient odors will add to a pleasant restroom experience.

OTHER BUILDING LOCATIONS

  • Janitor closets can omit odors. Keep a tidy closet! After use, rinse mops with clean water and hang to dry. Empty and rinse mop buckets.  Clean, empty, and air out recovery tanks on equipment.
  • Inadequate ventilation can be cause challenges. If possible, open windows or clean air vents to improve air quality
  • Is the odor coming from the dumpster area or wastebaskets? There are several products made specifically for this application.

If you need more information on a specific odor or area, please contact your Imperial Dade Sales Consultant. A good daily cleaning routine will keep odor problems to a minimum! Visit https://imperialdade.com/Locations to find a location near you.

Improve Indoor Air Quality

5 BEST PRACTICES TO PREVENT AND CONTROL MOLD

Mold and mildew are hot button topics any time of year but especially during humid summer months. According to the EPA, “Mold can grow on virtually any organic material as long as moisture and oxygen are present. There are molds that grow on wood, paper, carpet, food, and insulation. Because mold eats or digests what it is growing on, it can damage a building and its furnishings. If left unchecked, mold eventually can cause structural damage to building materials. Molds gradually destroy the things they grow on. You can prevent damage to buildings and building contents, save money, and avoid potential health problems by controlling moisture and eliminating mold growth.”

How is mold linked to Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)?

When mold grows indoors, there could be reports of musty or moldy odors. These should be investigated immediately. Mold can be linked to various health issues such as headaches, allergic reactions, asthma symptoms, nasal irritation, and nausea.  For more information on Indoor Air Quality, please review the EPA’s Guide for Building Owners & Facility Managers.

What are the 5 best practices to prevent and control mold?

  1. Reduce indoor humidity (to 30-60%) to decrease mold growth by:
    • Venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources to the outside
    • Using air conditioners and de-humidifiers
    • Using exhaust fans whenever cleaning
  2. Clean and dry any damp or wet building materials or furnishings within 24-48 hours to prevent mold growth.
  3. In areas with a perpetual moisture problem, do not install carpeting (e.g., by drinking fountains, classroom sinks, or on concrete floors with leaks or frequent condensation).
  4. Prevent condensation: Reduce the potential for condensation on cold surfaces (e.g., windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors) by adding insulation.
  5. If mold is a problem, you must clean up the mold and eliminate sources of moisture. Fix the source of the water problem or leak to prevent mold growth.

If you think your facility has mold or mildew you should first understand what type issue you have.  If the issue is flood water, please review the EPA Fact Sheet Flood Cleanup Avoiding Indoor Air Quality Problems”

There is no practical way to eliminate all molds and mold spores in the indoor environment; the way to control indoor mold growth is to control moisture.

If you see mold, how do you get rid of it?

Who should do the cleanup depends on several factors. One consideration is the size of the mold problem. If the moldy area is less than about 10 square feet (roughly a 3 ft. by 3 ft. patch), in most cases, you and your team can handle the job yourself by following the guidelines below.

However, if the affected areas are greater than 10 square feet, a professional remediation contractor may be required for the cleanup.  In any event, check the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guide titled Mold Remediation in Schools and Commercial Buildings, which gives advice on all building types.

What do you wear when removing mold?

  • Wear an N-95 respirator.  Please note that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that respirators fit properly (fit testing) when used in an occupational setting; consult OSHA for more information (osha.gov).
  • Wear gloves. Long gloves are recommended.
  • Wear goggles.

What are the best methods to cleanup mold?

  1. Scrub mold off hard surfaces, and dry thoroughly.
  2. Discard contaminated absorbent or porous materials, such as ceiling tiles.
  3. Avoid exposing yourself or others to mold.  Wear appropriate PPE.
  4. Do not run the HVAC system if you know or suspect that it is contaminated with mold – it could spread mold throughout the building.

What chemicals should you use when removing mold?

Mold growth can be removed from hard surfaces with commercial cleaning products, disinfectants, or a bleach solution. Follow the manufacturers’ instructions for use (see product label) and ensure proper ventilation throughout the cleaning process.

If you choose to use a cleaner-disinfectant product, check the label to ensure that it has efficacy claims for fungal organisms, such as Aspergillus niger. Niger is a black mold commonly associated with high moisture events.

Some disinfectants may even offer residual antifungal benefits that can help control the return of the mold problem.  Most importantly, certain disinfectants contain odor control agents that help eliminate the moldy odors, which are frequently a cause of student and staff complaints.

If you choose to use bleach to clean up mold, never mix bleach with ammonia or other household cleaners. Mixing bleach with ammonia or other cleaning products will produce dangerous, toxic fumes.

Who else can help when I have a mold problem?

Whatever mold situation you may be facing, it is suggested that you consult with your Imperial Dade sales consultant for recommendations specific to the needs of your case and your facility.  Our representatives know what products and equipment may be needed to help you resolve your problem as quickly as possible. Visit https://imperialdade.com/Locations to find an Imperial Dade location near you.