Updated: Mar 15, 2020
In 2019, I did a series of Cleaning 101 for churches. In the wake of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, churches are now closing their doors. You can effectively manage the spread of this virus by incorporating enhanced cleaning protocols, which consist of using microfiber cloths to clean, hospital-grade broad-spectrum disinfectants, daily sanitizing of high touch surfaces and increased task frequency. Now is not the time to have an all-out church clean up day, placing the burden on parishioners who ultimately will purchase household chemicals and use different or incorrect processes to clean. A church is one of many high traffic areas that see more volume than the average home on a Sunday or Wednesday. Therefore, household cleaners like bleach and pine sol, are not effective in combating the spread of germs.
Of course, every church should pay attention to operational costs, but what's a dollar when you can save a life. To be a sufficient house of worship requires not only spiritual awareness but prevention consciousness as well. This will curtail certain illnesses that need prayer, to begin with. Effectively managing cleaning processes can be accomplished by training volunteers on the correct cleaning procedures. If you don't understand these and other cleaning methodologies, Exodus is a Registered and Master Certified Cleaning Consultant who can assist you in the development of proper cleaning processes and procedures.
Disinfecting versus Sanitizing
Keeping a clean restroom may seem like a trivial task, but next to the Greeters and Hostesses, a clean restroom adds value to your church's first impression factor. Restrooms need to be cleaned and disinfected before use. Cleaning is removing the visible soil from a surface. Disinfecting is the process of eliminating harmful micro-organisms from inanimate objects and surfaces using correct dwell or contact time based on the efficacy of that product. Sanitizing is the process of reducing the number of micro-organisms that are on a properly cleaned surface to a safe level resulting in a 99.999% reduction. It’s important to know what microbial activity you are trying to kill and keep in check. Restrooms alone carry more than 19 groups of bacteria on the doors, floors, faucet handles, soap dispensers, and toilets. The most prevalent is skin-associated bacteria such as Staphylococcus aureus. Many of these bacteria strains are transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces.
I know most churches are using household bleach (chlorine as sodium hypochlorite) to clean. Bleach is active against most micro-organisms, including bacterial spores, and can be used as a disinfectant or sanitizer, depending on its concentration. Most use bleach because it is practical, economical, convenient, and available at grocery stores. The downfall is, bleach is highly corrosive to metal, rubber, and plastic materials, and it also gradually loses its strength. Once applied with a spray bottle, it must dwell on the surface for at least two minutes. But most volunteer cleaners use terry cloths who spray and wipe, allowing nasty germs to procreate. Over time, the use of bleach will result in rust to faucets and other fixtures, and toilet seats will turn yellow. These and other maladies will lead to expensive repairs and replacements.
Sanitizing is simply maintaining that which has already been cleaned and disinfected. It’s your hot spots like doorknobs, faucets, toilet tissue holders, etc. that need to be sanitized intermittently. I recommended that you have volunteers dedicated to disinfecting and sanitizing during church services to maintain restrooms.
Finally, you may be wondering if not bleach, then what? The best way to prevent the spread of viruses, spores, and bacteria is to purchase a broad-spectrum disinfectant or one that kills several types of micro-organisms. Facility/hospital-grade disinfectants and sanitizers can be obtained from your local Janitorial or Cleaning supply company. I highly recommend Spartan chemicals BNC-15.
BNC-15 delivers non-acid disinfectant and cleaning performance in an economical concentrate. BNC-15 is a proven one-step disinfectant, cleaner, sanitizer, fungicide, mildewstat, virucide, which is effective in water up to 250 ppm hardness in the presence of 5% serum contamination. This product provides nonfood-contact sanitization in just 15 seconds.