Guide: Keeping Public Spaces Clean

sterilizing a public space

With warmer weather arriving across Canada, it’s more tempting than ever for people to venture out into public spaces. However, doing so also comes with certain risks as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. If you’re responsible for a location where people might be tempted to congregate this season, it’s vital that you take some steps to keep your area clean and safe.

We’ve spent years cleaning and sanitizing spaces of all kinds throughout Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver. Let our knowledge and experience prepare you to clean any public spaces you’re responsible for effectively.

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FAQs about Germs In Public Spaces

Many people face heightened anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic because they’re not sure how germs behave. To reduce confusion, we’ve posted answers to some of your most common questions below:

How long do germs survive on surfaces?

The length of time germs can survive on a given surface largely depends on 2 factors: what kind of germ it is and what type of surface it falls on. Cold and flu-virus germs typically do not survive outside the body for longer than a few hours, but COVID-19 germs can survive for up to 72 hours if they fall on plastic or stainless steel surfaces. COVID-19 germs can also survive for up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 4 hours on copper, according to the WHO.

What other factors affect the lifespan of germs?

Certain environmental factors can also influence the length of time germs survive on surfaces, including:

  • Temperature
  • Humidity
  • The number of germs deposited on the surface in question

However, when it comes to COVID-19, temperature and humidity appear to have little influence on the lifespan of the virus. Furthermore, some research suggests no correlation between virus load (i.e., how much of the virus there is) and how sick it can make you—so it’s best to be as careful as possible in every situation.

What can I do to make public spaces safer?

Besides rigorous cleaning (which we’ll cover in a moment), people who are responsible for keeping public spaces clean during the current pandemic should consider the following strategies:

  • Make sure any indoor spaces are well-ventilated since the germs responsible for any respiratory illness spread more easily in poorly ventilated environments.
  • Attempt to reduce the number of people in your space during regular peak times. Instead, offer incentives for people to use the space during less conventional hours, and discourage lingering or loitering.
  • Consider the most vulnerable people likely to use your space. Unhoused people are at particular risk for COVID-19, but you can help prevent them from catching or spreading illness in your space by paying extra attention to restrooms and other facilities they may rely on for their basic needs. Also, remember to provide plenty of soap, hand sanitizer, and other cleaning products—this will keep everyone who uses your space safer and more confident in your efforts.
  • Finally, remember to follow all relevant public health orders—even if it means shutting down temporarily.

How Often Should Public Spaces be Cleaned in the COVID Era?

Most provinces offer similar guidance to the CDC when it comes to how often you should clean public spaces during the pandemic. If no people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases are known to have been in your facility, it should be sufficient to clean on a daily basis.

However, there are still some surfaces you’ll want to clean more often than others since people are more likely to touch them. These high-traffic objects include:

  • Toilets
  • Sink handles
  • Doorknobs
  • Light switches
  • Railings
  • Tables and chairs

Also, remember that specific public-facing businesses like restaurants tend to have extra high-traffic items. We recommend disinfecting the following items between each use:

  • Credit and debit card machines
  • Tables and chairs
  • Salt and pepper shakers
  • Sauce containers
  • Food trays

How Should You Clean Public Surfaces?

Health Canada offers clear guidance for cleaning public spaces and workplaces during COVID-19:

  • Try to use cleaning products that also contain disinfectants since cleaners don’t necessarily kill germs on their own. See our previous blog on the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and sterilizing for more information.
  • Use hard-surface disinfectants approved by the government to fight the spread of COVID-19. This list is being updated regularly throughout the pandemic, so be sure to check often.
  • Familiarize yourself with all current OHS and WHIMIS requirements before starting.
  • If you are not using a combination cleaner and disinfectant, make sure to wipe down all surfaces with a cleaner before applying the disinfectant.
  • If you are cleaning surfaces with special properties (including electronic devices such as PIN pads), check the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid damage. Whenever possible, use an alcohol-based cleaning solution containing 70% alcohol or more.
  • After cleaning, remember to safely store or dispose of your cleaning materials. Wash reusable cleaning items with hot water (60-90 degrees celsius) and make sure to put disposable items in a lined garbage bin before throwing them out with the rest of your trash.

Definite Dos and Don’ts for COVID Cleaning

Good Ideas

  • Wear disposable gloves, and wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds afterward. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.
  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on all cleaning and disinfecting products. Some products require the use of gloves, can only be used safely in well-ventilated areas, and must be left alone for specific periods of time to properly function after they are applied.

Bad Ideas

  • Don’t use “dry” cleaning methods like dusting and sweeping. Instead, stick to clean, damp cloths, mops, and other “wet” tools. Dry cleaning tools can kick dust and other particles into the air—including germs.
  • Don’t reuse disposable cleaning products. There are lots of ways to reduce your carbon footprint during the pandemic that don’t involve keeping items the virus can easily stick to, like rubber gloves and disposable cloths.

A Healthy Business Depends on a Healthy Public

If you’re in charge of any public space, you have a responsibility to help protect the people who use it. Use the information we’ve provided above as a starting point, and remember: professional cleaning help is only a call away if you need it.

Double Clean is the professional cleaning company in Canada that offers:

Check all locations where we provide our services on the website.

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