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How to properly clean and disinfect your business

Small business woman owner disinfecting pexiglass wall

The Coronavirus pandemic has introduced a glaring spotlight on the importance of cleaning and disinfection. Consumers who didn’t previously pay much attention are now wiping down groceries, counting to twenty when washing their hands, and factoring in a business’s cleanliness—as much as their products—when making a purchasing decision.

Since the onset of COVID, over two-thirds of diners have a more stringent definition of “restaurant cleanliness” and 70% expect more thorough and frequent cleaning, according to a recent P&G Professional survey. This heightened level of sanitization has become the new normal and is constantly top of mind for both employees and customers who want to be safe and confident in either coming to work or patronizing your business.

Cleaning and disinfecting

Ensuring your business is safe for guests and employees is actually quite simple. Although there may be new and evolved techniques, products, and machines, this two-step process is all that’s needed to help facilities stay protected: cleaning and disinfecting.

These two steps are vital to an effective cleaning program, yet many are unaware of the difference between the two and the importance of each task. Add sanitizing in the mix and the confusion grows. So what do these terms really mean, and how are they all involved in an effective restaurant cleaning program?

  • Cleaning removes soil (dust, debris, and dirt) from a surface
  • Sanitizing reduces the bacteria on hard or soft surfaces and is mostly used in food preparation areas
  • Disinfecting kills or inactivates both bacteria and viruses on hard, nonporous surfaces and is effective for the front of the house and other common areas like restrooms

Why clean and disinfect? Most disinfectants don’t effectively remove soil, if at all. Residual soil can shelter germs such as Coronavirus, Norovirus, E. Coli, Salmonella, or Influenza. Disinfecting will kill these germs, but if the soil remains because the surface wasn’t cleaned first, the disinfectant can’t work properly. Cleaning a surface well allows the disinfecting agents to work more effectively than disinfecting alone. Multipurpose products that are effective across a wide range of pathogens can effectively clean and disinfect in one step, when used as directed. These multitaskers can eliminate the need for multiple products, saving time and money.

Controlling and preventing infection

Infection prevention is key to helping stop the spread of germs and viruses in your business. The primary concepts for controlling and preventing infection are education, encouraging good habits, and breaking the contamination cycle, with a focus on these important steps:

  • Train employees and reinforce the importance of staying home when sick
  • Regularly communicate your sick policies, personal hygiene etiquette, and proper infection control procedures
  • During an outbreak (e.g., flu season), keep close to local/regional guidelines; execute a plan that allows for business continuity
  • Require frequent handwashing—for at least 20 seconds—and put posters up to remind staff and guests
  • Provide hand sanitizing stations
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your inner elbow (not your hands) when coughing and sneezing
  • Avoid close contact and encourage social distancing behaviors
  • Clean, disinfect, and avoid cross contamination of tools, like mop heads
  • Prioritize high-touch surfaces
  • Use an EPA-registered disinfectant, and follow all label instructions 
Cleaning and disinfecting counter surface

Cleaning products

Fifty-five percent of travelers said they would be willing to pay more for a hotel room and one in three diners would be willing to pay more for a meal if they knew the business was using a personally recognizable and trusted brand of cleaning products. Using cleaning products with recognizable brand names and communicating what actions are being taken to keep customers and employees safe—through in-store and online signage—can also help instill confidence in your customers that it is safe to return to your business.

As businesses continue to reopen, consumers will make more discerning choices about where they patronize, so it’s increasingly important for businesses to build and maintain trust with their guests. This requires consistency with safety and cleaning policies like social distance guidelines, mask and glove requirements for staff, and cleaning and disinfection protocols. All of this combined will help build confidence so customers feel safe when interacting with your business.

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The information above is provided for educational and informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice and may not be suitable for your circumstances. Unless stated otherwise, references to third-party links, services, or products do not constitute endorsement by Yelp.