Cleaning to Stop the Spread of Disease in the Restroom

Cleaning professionals can help prevent cross-contamination in restrooms by focusing cleaning and disinfecting efforts on germ-prone surfaces and objects such as counter tops, urinals, toilets, door knobs, toilet handles, stall locks, and faucets. Since cleaning tools and equipment can become contaminated during the cleaning process, it is important not to clean multiple areas with the same supplies. Dirty cloths, sponges, and mops can spread viruses and bacteria to anything else they come in contact with, so it is important to regularly clean and disinfect or replace equipment as needed to avoid cross-contamination. Ready-to-use disposable disinfecting wipes can help decrease cross-contamination risks since they are designed to be thrown out after each use. Janitorial carts and closets should also be kept clean to prevent dirt and germs from traveling throughout a building on equipment.

Cleaning professionals should select disinfecting products that are specifically formulated and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered to kill illness-causing bacteria and viruses, such as influenza and norovirus, quickly. Remember that no matter which products are used, the best results are achieved when they are used correctly. Always refer to the product label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use and contact time, or the length of time the disinfectant needs to remain wet on the surface to properly kill viruses, fungi, and bacteria.

Finally, building occupants themselves also have a role to play in preventing cross-contamination, so it is important to encourage everyone to wash their hands regularly with soap and warm water—especially after sneezing or coughing, touching used tissues, or using the bathroom—and to stay home when they are sick to avoid spreading germs throughout the environment and to others.

Restrooms are one of the toughest jobs that cleaning professionals face in any industry or facility. However, with the right products, practices, and thorough cleaning and disinfecting, cleaning professionals can limit opportunities for cross-contamination and help ensure a healthy environment for building occupants and staff during flu season and year round.