What Questions to Ask when Choosing a Disinfection Company
The pandemic has created a seismic shift in the way that business owners and facility managers view cleaning and disinfection practices. Superficial cleaning for aesthetic reasons is no longer enough. Now that infection control has become a priority, specific guidelines, as outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) must be followed.
Do you know if your current janitorial service provider follows CDC guidelines? And if you are interested in hiring a company to disinfect your facility for the first time, do you know what to look for?
The Germ Buster System was created by experts in environmental health and safety, who can offer a few tips:
What Gina Dehmer, environmental health nurse, has to say:
1. Is disinfection the company’s primary service? What are their credentials?
Since the beginning of the pandemic, a variety of facility services companies (ie. janitorial, waste management, exterminators) and others in unrelated industries have jumped on the disinfection bandwagon. I would be wary of anyone who recently added disinfection to their menu of services. You want to know if they are certified in environmental health or if they work closely with any outside experts in industrial hygiene or infectious disease.
2. Do they follow CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfection?
You cannot assume that proper procedures are being followed. I have spoken to many business owners who weren’t sure what the CDC actually recommends. All guidelines are posted on their website. I recommend taking a few minutes to review the information. Since you may or may not be present during the treatment, you should ask about the procedure for pre-treating surfaces. Disinfection is not as effective in killing germs if you don’t get rid of dirt and grime first. The company should have a checklist which covers all the procedures, lists high touch surfaces unique to your type of facility and takes special precautions in the bathrooms.
3. Do they use disinfectants registered by the EPA? And are they non-toxic?
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) oversees the regulation of disinfectants and approves the claims that companies make with regard to specific germs and safety. You want to make sure that the company you hire uses EPA-registered products that are effective at killing SARS-CoV-2 among other common infectious pathogens. If you operate a business which serves vulnerable populations (young children, elderly adults, immunocompromised individuals), you may also want to verify the potency (log kill) and safety data of the disinfectant product.
The Germ Buster System uses a hospital grade disinfectant which kills 99.999% of germs. This is called a 5-log kill, which means it would reduce the size of the colony of germs 100,000-fold. So if a colony of germs started out with 1 million units then after disinfecting, you would be left with just 10.
Our disinfectant is also Category 4 which is the safest, water-based and non-toxic. You can request that the company provide you with the safety data sheet to confirm this type of information.
4. Do they apply an antimicrobial protectant to high touch surfaces?
Since surfaces are vulnerable to recontamination immediately after disinfection, there are some companies, such as the Germ Buster System, which apply a special nanotechnology which bonds to surfaces to form a protective coating. The coating is completely non-toxic once it is dry and acts like a bed of nails, physically killing germs that come into contact with it. The protectant lasts for up to 30 days, even with routine cleaning.
What Gary Szymanski, environmental consultant, would ask:
5. How do they train their technicians?
I would want to know how they train their technicians and hold them accountable. The person you speak with to set up the appointment may sound knowledgeable, but you want to make sure that that knowledge is being shared and quality control measures are in place.
6. What type of application process is used for disinfecting? (Manual labor, fogging, electrostatic spraying)
There are various ways to apply disinfectant solutions. Each has its pros and cons. Find out what they do and why they do it that way. At the Germ Buster System, we use a water-based, non-toxic product with electrostatic application technology. When an electric charge is applied to the solution, it becomes attracted to surfaces ensuring complete and efficient coverage. It’s a great technology but not appropriate for all types of disinfectants.
7. How do they verify that disinfection was successful?
Ask if they do testing to verify that disinfection actually worked. We use ATP monitors to check viable germ levels before and after treatment. We hold ourselves accountable to a certain standard but not all companies do.
We also provide a certificate of treatment and window decals so that businesses can promote the fact that we have certified the facility is safe and protected for 30 days from the date of treatment.
8. Do they offer any additional support?
I’ve been an environmental consultant for so many years that it is second nature for me to look at the bigger picture, but someone who is not trained in the field may not. When clients sign up for a monthly contract, we also offer germ level monitoring and other services that may be needed. Another thing that has been very popular, is video documentation so that the business owner can show customers and employees what they are doing to keep everyone safe.