5 Ways to Defend Your Facility from Cold & Flu this Winter

If there’s anything we’ve all learned the past couple years, it’s that taking smart, pragmatic and scientifically backed cleaning can help reduce the spread of viruses in your facility.

While we can’t prevent people from coming inside when they’re not feeling well, we do have some essential tips that can keep your facility as safe as possible.

Sanitize and Disinfect on the Daily

Viruses live everywhere, and they’re especially prevalent on highly touched surfaces such as door handles, counters and desks. Ensure these areas are disinfected at least daily using an approved chemical from the Environmental Protection Agency’s N List.

Also, make sure you understand how to apply the sanitizer and disinfectant you use. This includes having a clear idea of how long the disinfectant needs to stay on the surface before being wiped off. We refer to that as “dwell time” and it ranges based on what chemical you use.

“This is one of the simplest ways to keep germs at bay in a facility,” said Mike Staver, KleenMark’s Chief Operating Officer, who oversees all of KleenMark’s cleaning teams. “Having a plan and schedule for disinfecting in place will pay dividends when it comes to wellness.”

Promote Personal Hygiene

After a pandemic, you may assume everyone is staying on top of handwashing. But, that’s not always the case.

Add signage throughout your building, especially in restrooms. Stickers on mirrors are particularly effective.

We offer all our clients a toolkit that has basic signage they can use to remind people to take these basic steps. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also is a great resource for free posters.

Keep the Air Clean

While surfaces are a priority, airborne germs are a top culprit during cold/flu season.

Consider adding portable air cleaners and purifiers to rooms, especially common areas where larger groups of people come together. This ensures air is circulating regularly and being filtered to remove airborne pathogens.

Even if your building regularly exchanges inside air through ventilation, having portable purifiers expedites air cleaning and provides peace of mind for staff and visitors. Many cleaners also have air monitors that let you know when particle levels are too high and need attention.

Add a Day Porter to Your Cleaning Program

Day porters are on hand to handle everything from disinfection of frequently touched surfaces to mid-day messes that inevitably occur. Having a day porter, or two, is particularly effective in large facilities where constant sanitizing and disinfection is needed.

Check out “What’s a day porter and do I need one?” to learn more and see if a day porter would help keep your facility consistently clean when workers and visitors are in the building. During cold/flu season, this is a particularly effective way to reduce the spread of germs.

Go Touchless

It’s wild, but we still see a lot of facilities that use manual towel dispensers.

Touchless dispensers prevent the spread of germs and are one of the simplest ways to increase the cleanliness of your facility while protecting your employees. At the most basic level, we recommend always using touchless towel and soap dispensers in all your restrooms.

To learn more about what we recommend, check out “4 touch-free options to prevent the spread of germs.”

 “The technology in touchless dispensers is so much better than it used to be,” Staver said. “This is a cost-effective way to control germs and also helps reduce towel and soap waste.”

Facility Managers: Keep Cleaning from Becoming a Headache

A cleaner calls in sick. You constantly have to check in on the janitorial team. The list of issues you can face when managing a manufacturing facility is long – but those related to cleaning don’t have to be on your list.

And frankly, those types of issues shouldn’t be on your list if you work with a commercial cleaning company. Instead, you should be able to focus on keeping machinery going, updating equipment and overseeing larger daily issues that arise.

We caught up with Brian Regnart, a KleenMark branch manager, to learn more about how our specially trained manufacturing teams stay on top of the toughest jobs, while freeing up a facility manager’s time and energy.

Question: One big issue we hear about is facility managers not having a backup plan for when cleaners call in sick. How does KleenMark address that?

Answer: We have a couple different approaches. First, we have technicians who can float between different accounts and facilities. They’re trained for an array of jobs and can quickly jump in if another cleaner calls in sick.

But there’s more. On top of that, our supervisors are all trained as cleaners and can easily jump in and help. We also staff with some redundancy to ensure there are enough people on hand to cover for anyone who is ill.

Q: How can facility managers stay on top of cleaning without micromanaging and wasting loads of time?

A: We’re able to provide weekly inspection reports via a digital dashboard. This allows facility managers to have clear insight into what’s been cleaned and when. Any needs or issues also are included.

Q: How does KleenMark keep unexpected janitorial needs – such as spill cleanup – from becoming an issue for facility managers?

A: We have a dedicated account manager for each of our clients. They’re readily available via phone, text, email, carrier pigeon or even the bat signal. For a facility manager, an unexpected cleaning need should never become a significant issue or problem for them.

Q: How can a facility manager at a factory feel confident they don’t need to constantly be checking in on a cleaning team?

A: Well, for us, all our cleaners receive training specific to the manufacturing facility they’ll work in. With a dedicated Health, Safety & Training Manager, we’re well versed in OSHA regulations and more.

On top of that, we spend additional time training on chemicals, cleaning frequency, which equipment to use and areas of focus. For instance, in factories restrooms and breakrooms can take a beating, so our crews clearly understand they will need to clean them more frequently than in an office, for instance.

Q: Why not just have production staff clean the manufacturing plant?

A: We’ve seen several instances where manufacturers pull people from their regular job, whether that’s on the line, running a forklift or something else, to clean. First, they aren’t properly trained, so it’s likely they’re less efficient and less effective. Second, when you pull someone from the line, you’re impacting productivity – and that’s just one more headache for a facility manager.

Cleaner’s Corner: When it comes to cleaning schools, how is it different than, say, office buildings?

Brian Regnart, KleenMark’s Madison-area Branch Manager:

Overseeing an array of cleaning teams across various industries (and having children myself) one thing is certain: Kids can make a new mess before the old one’s even cleaned up.

Knowing that, every school gets a top-to-bottom cleaning each night. From disinfecting surfaces to scrubbing hallway floors, it’s critical to clean everything each day. That’s far different than a commercial office space.

In schools, specifically, we’re working to keep kids safe – from germs but also from contact with any cleaning chemicals that could irritate them. We primarily use neutral cleaners, along with vinegar, because both are harmless but also effective.  

Attention to detail also is critical in schools. Our teams following a mapped out process each night, ensuring every desk is wiped down and sanitized.

Of course, there’s always gum, clay, paint, glue – you name it – stuck on just about every surface imaginable. Our crews have the training and the appropriate commercial cleaning supplies to make sure we’re able to remove those trickier (and stickier) messes and stains without damaging a surface or furniture.

With schools, our customers aren’t just the facility managers but parents, teachers, kids and staff. We take that seriously, which is why we develop custom plans and training for our technicians working in schools.

High-ceiling Cleaning: How and Why to Tackle Those Hard-to-reach Areas

There’s an old adage in the cleaning game: Don’t forget to look up. But when it comes to high-ceiling cleaning, it’s admittedly easy to brush aside, given the delicate nature of the work.

But it’s incredibly important tackle the job if you’re going to keep your facility looking good and free of grime and dust – both of which can hinder air quality.

We talked with Brian Regnart, a KleenMark operations manager, to break down some of the most frequently asked questions we get about high-ceiling cleaning.

Question: What type of ceilings require regular cleaning?

Generally, exposed ceilings like those found in manufacturing and industrial facilities are what need cleaned on a regular basis. They often have exposed pipes, ductwork and other nooks and crannies that have a tendency to capture dirt and dust. However, more offices are being built in an industrial style with exposed ceilings, so it’s important to ensure your cleaning crews are monitoring high ceilings for dust buildup. Along with air quality, dirty ceilings and fixtures give the perception to employees and visitors that you don’t take cleaning seriously.

Q: How often should I clean high ceilings in my facility?

We usually recommend every other year for most buildings. In some manufacturing facilities, where particulates such as saw dust are floating through the air, we may recommend doing it annually.

Q: Are you only cleaning the ceiling or are you also cleaning light fixtures and duct work?

When we say “high-ceiling” we’re generally referring to everything that’s on or near the ceiling. That includes ductwork, HVAC systems, boiler pipes, light fixtures and so on. Depending on the facility, the needs will change.

Q: Does it disrupt regular operations?

No. When our crews take on a high-ceiling cleaning project, we prefer to work at night or during the slowest shift. If plants have a non-production day, we’ll also likely schedule our work during that time.

Q: Does high-ceiling cleaning require special equipment?

It does. For ceilings up to 15-feet high, we use what is called a SpaceVac. Basically, it’s a fancy Shop-Vac that allows us to reach further without needing a ladder. And the vacuum has special technology that prevents it from losing suction at such a distance.

For higher ceilings, we have scissor lifts that allow our cleaners to reach tough areas safely and effectively.

Q: How much time does it take?

Of course, this varies. But for large manufacturing facilities this often can be a multi-day job. The reason: We have to navigate lifts through narrow, often crowded spaces and ensure everyone is safe. Variables, including the need to clean individual light fixtures, can impact the time required. Still, it rarely takes more than3-4 eight-hour days.

Q: Is it messy?

No. We use vacuums to reduce the amount of dust and grime that falls to the floor. Additionally, we cover all machinery and floors when necessary to protect them from debris. We then thoroughly clean the floors and remove any dust that fell.

Q: Does it improve air quality?

Any time you’re removing particulates from a surface where people work, you’re contributing to better air quality. If your HVAC system is older, it may not work as effectively as it should when it comes to keeping your building dust-free. A high-ceiling cleaning can help alleviate that dust issue.

If you want to learn more about how we approach high-ceiling cleaning jobs, send us a note any time.

Force of Infection: What is it, does it matter for disinfection?

Since the pandemic hit, you’ve probably learned a lot of new germ-related terms. But one you may not be that familiar with is force of infection, an important thing to consider as you determine the future of your facility’s disinfection program.

Force of infection, or FOI, is the rate at which individuals in a population acquire an infectious disease over a period of time. In layman’s terms, FOI shows how many people are getting sick and how quickly it’s happening.

So, why does this matter to you? Because as you consider what your long-term disinfection protocol will look like, you need to know that FOI has the potential to be impacted by germ-covered sources, making it important to continue disinfecting surfaces.

Why You Need to Understand Force of Infection

This year, the journal NPJ Vaccines published the article “Force of infection: a determinant of vaccine efficacy?” The journal, which is part of Nature Magazine is a scientific publication dedicated to highlighting the most important advances in vaccine research and development.

The focus of the article was to examine whether a lower FOI impacts the effectiveness of vaccines. In the study, they looked at two groups of people: One that had received a rotavirus (diarrhea) vaccine and another that was given a malaria vaccine. In both instances, a lower FOI led to higher vaccine efficacy (VE).

The question then becomes: Do non-pharmaceutical interventions (this is a fancy term for bucketing things like disinfectants and proper PPE usage into one group) help lower force of infection?

In the NPJ Vaccines article, the author argues that, yes, proper disinfection efforts could reduce FOI and “therefore enhance or sustain VE”. Therefore, in the context of a pandemic, continuing to use non-pharmaceutical interventions to manage disease spread “seems prudent and … quite urgent.”

As the number of new COVID-19 cases ebbs and flows, and as new variants continue to pop up, we felt that it’s important to highlight the ongoing role proper disinfection can play in reducing the presence of germs that could impact force of infection, and subsequently the health of your employees and visitors.

Develop a Disinfection Program That Works

To ensure your facility is on top of its disinfection game, you need to incorporate several elements into your cleaning program.

Day Porter Disinfection

Yes, most deep cleaning happens when your facility is empty. But with people coming and going, it’s important you maintain a high level of cleanliness. This not only improves the health of your facility but it also gives people the peace of mind that you’re taking intentional steps to reduce the amount of germs in your building. Adding an extra day porter – or reassigning your existing day-cleaning staff – will allow you to focus on keeping high-traffic areas clean and disinfected. With more people using more soap, hand sanitizer and towels, they’ll also focus on keeping those products stocked. This day-cleaning checklist is a good place to start.

High-touchpoint Disinfection

You’ve probably heard us talk about this before, but that’s only because of its importance. You need to disinfect frequently touched surfaces multiple times each day using approved chemicals from the Environmental Protection Agency’s List N. Each chemical on this list is proven to kill COVID-19. To learn how to properly disinfect, watch this quick video.

Confirmed case? Time to spray.

While proactive electrostatic spraying still has benefits, we always recommend using it after a confirmed COVID-19 exposure in your facility. Electrostatic sprayers have technology that ensures disinfectant “sticks” to every surface and kills germs. Because it is sprayed as a mist, it’s easy to blanket all hard surfaces.

To learn more about the benefits of electrostatic spraying and how it works, read Do I Need an Electrostatic Sprayer for Disinfection?

Healthcare Cleaning: The Key to Developing Well-trained Teams

When it comes to healthcare cleaning, sanitizing and disinfection, having poorly trained or ill prepared staff isn’t an option. If those workers don’t understand a healthcare facility’s specific needs, it can result in costly, dangerous errors.

Along with looking for experience and certifications, always ask how your cleaning partner recruits, onboards, trains and supports the workers responsible for keeping your hospitals and clinics safe.

Healthcare Cleaning Requires Specialized Recruiting and Onboarding

A healthcare cleaner’s skills are significantly different than those of someone cleaning an office. That means a cleaning company needs to understand what to look for and how to recruit staff that can handle additional responsibilities and needs.

We have dedicated recruiters in house at KleenMark, including a team focused solely on the medical field. This is essential. It allows a cleaning company to quickly ramp up and ensure they’re hiring people qualified to work in healthcare.

And, once they’re in the door the focus is on a proven onboarding process. Right out of the gate, they’re trained on relevant standards from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO). This ensures they understand we’re responsible for specific standards that keep people safe and keep a healthcare facility compliant.

New healthcare cleaning technicians immediately undergo background checks, have their vaccinations verified and updated as needed, and begin to acquaint them with the essentials needed to work in a healthcare facility.

On-the-job Training: A Safe, Tiered Approach

Our medical team leaders are meticulous, having worked in the industry a combined 40-plus years. So, as you can imagine they take a thorough, safe approach to training new healthcare cleaning technicians.

During the first 1-2 months (if not longer), each person starts as a medical general cleaner. They learn the basics and prove they’re hitting our standards. During this time they’re highly supervised, with a veteran healthcare supervisor over their shoulder.

Once they’ve proven competence in all levels, they move into a role as a pre-/post-op cleaner. They learn more detailed and stringent cleaning and disinfecting standards, which allows them to handle a range of needs, from ambulatory centers to specialty clinics.

Ultimately, they reach a level of expertise to become operating room cleaners. This means they can handle any cleaning and disinfection need, from restrooms to a terminal clean.

When you’re looking for an outside cleaning partner, be sure to verify they follow a similar approach. This leads to consistent results and less turnover, both of which are essential in healthcare.

In-the-field Leadership

This is straightforward but the significance cannot be overstated. In most instances, cleaning companies have an off-site supervisor or two and then you have to go to corporate to find leadership.

That’s now how we roll and it’s not what you should settle for. Our director of medical operations is in the field – daily. He’s checking on his teams, providing support, training and auditing results. This is what it takes to run an effective healthcare cleaning program. Anything else isn’t sufficient.

Additionally, we have two medical managers and two assistant managers, as well as multiple levels of on-site and in-field supervision, overseeing each individual location. 

Our expert-trained and tenured supervisors manage day-to-day operations, performance and ensure our medical teams always maintain the highest level of quality. They’re the backbone of a structure that has allowed us to be incredibly responsive and accountable when cleaning healthcare facilities.

After 20 years of cleaning healthcare facilities, we’ve found this is what it takes to do the job right. And it’s what’s key to preventing costly errors. If you’re curious or want to go into more detail about how we train our teams, send us an email any time.

Cleaner’s Corner: Why your janitorial company needs to understand JCAHO

Question: Is it important that a cleaning company understands healthcare rules and regulations, specifically those from the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO)?

Tenzin Kunga, Medical Operations Assistant Manager:

One. Hundred. Percent. Having worked on both sides of the fence, if you will, I’ve seen the benefits for a healthcare facility when its cleaning partner has a clear understanding of what’s expected from the JCAHO.

Any of us who work in the space are aware of JCAHO’s role, but as a refresher it’s a 70-year-old nonprofit organization that accredits more than 22,000 health care organizations in the U.S. That includes hospitals, clinics, labs and more.

JCAHO is focused on assuring patient safety and quality of care – a mission we all can agree is important. As part of that mission, JCAHO measures more than 250 standards organizations must meet to maintain their accreditations.

And, yep, you guessed it: Infection control is a big part of JCAHO’s standards. That means your cleaning company needs to fully understand those standards, given the fact JCAHO will randomly audit a facility with no advance warning.

At KleenMark, we’re one of few cleaning companies that has a dedicated health and safety officer. His focus is on staying up-to-date on the latest health & safety regulations, best practices and standards. He then provides regular training to our healthcare teams.

Additionally, our healthcare leadership team has worked exclusively in clinics, hospitals and labs for the past 20-plus years. We know what matters most for patient safety, your infection control team and, of course, JCAHO. From waste streams to how to properly change gloves, we get it.

So, yes, it’s incredibly important your cleaning team understands JCAHO standards. Not only will they keep your facility clean and safe, but they’ll also understand the nuanced needs without any additional training needed from your internal team. And they’ll have tracked and recorded the cleaning process, so you’re ready for an impromptu audit.

If you want to learn more about how we train our healthcare cleaning teams, or our process in general, send us a note any time.

Quaternary or Peroxide Disinfectants: What’s best for you?

A lot of disinfectants are on the market, but at the end of the day, commercial cleaners often choose between two chemicals: Quaternary Ammonium and Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide.

Those are big words but more importantly there are some big differences between the two disinfectants. One is ideal for noncritical surfaces while the other is good for frequently touched items.

Below, we’ve summarized the two chemicals, both of which our teams use regularly. Ideally, this will help you decide which best fits your needs as disinfection continues to be a top priority for janitorial teams.

Quaternary Ammonium

Well known and widely used, quaternary ammonium disinfectants are EPA approved. They’re regarded as effective disinfectants and are OK to use on hard surfaces.

With that said, they’re best for routine cleaning and disinfecting “noncritical” surfaces such as floors and hospital bed rails. They’re not ideal for frequently touched surfaces, because they need to sit undisturbed much longer than other options.

In terms of germ killing, they work best against bacteria, enveloped viruses (this includes COVID-19) and fungus. They’re not designed to kill spore-based contaminants and generally don’t work against nonenveloped viruses (common colds, norovirus).

Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide

These chemicals were recently introduced as EPA-registered surface disinfectants, making them wonderful for high-touchpoint surfaces such as doorknobs and counters.

The reason they’re an ideal choice is that most have low dwell times, meaning you can spray them on a surface and wipe them off shortly thereafter – and still kill all the germs. Some AHP products such as Oxivir (One our teams commonly use), have dwell times as low as 30 seconds to 1 minute for killing viruses such as COVID-19.

The compounds used to make AHPs are considered safe for staff, falling into the lowest toxicity category. They’re noncorrosive and aren’t affected by organic materials. Additionally, they’re benign, meaning they don’t harm the environment.

Of course, while those are all clear perks the downside is that AHP is more expensive than other disinfectants, including quats.

Need more information on what chemicals are best for your cleaning needs? Send our product team a note any time.

Cleaner’s Corner: Applying Disinfectant – Good, Better, Best

Question: What’s the best way for applying disinfectant?

This may seem surprising, but we get this question a lot. And it’s still common to see people applying disinfectant incorrectly. The thing is. it doesn’t need to be complicated. I’ve laid out three different approaches to application, ranging from good to best.

Of course, I’d always recommend you use the best method when applying disinfectant, but for proper disinfecting, any of these options will do the trick. So, take a look below and let us know if you have questions.

Good: Immersion

Immerse your cloth in the disinfectant for the amount of time per label instructions. This is what we rarely want to see because the longer the cloth is in the disinfectant, the less effective that disinfectant becomes if it’s quaternary ammonium.

See our KleenMark Distribution site for quaternary and accelerated hydrogen peroxide disinfectants.

Better: Quick Soak

Dip the material in the disinfectant for a few seconds and then use it immediately. This will lessen the quat action, but not as much as leaving a cloth soaking in a bucket of disinfectant. Another great tip is to frequently change the surface of the cloth per surface being cleaned. 


Best: Direct

When the disinfectant is applied directly, it begins to immediately interact with the contaminated surface. The key is to ensure you cover all surfaces with disinfectant, use the appropriate micron level on your sprayer and manage over-spray. This reduces quat binding almost entirely. That means the positively charged “quats” can’t get stuck in a negatively charged cloth. If they get stuck in the cloth they’re never released and therefore don’t do their job.


3 Steps to Help Employees Fight Germs

Editor’s note: Quick Kleen is a regularly occurring video series produced by our cleaning and disinfection experts. The series is designed to provide you with practical information your team can use, while giving you insight into our approach and services offered. 

As you bring employees back into the workplace – or look to simply improve cleaning and disinfection best practices, these three tips can help encourage new habits among your employees. This is a simple, three-step process great for those people not on your janitorial team.  

It all comes down to what we call the three S’s: Signage. Supplies. Sanitizer. Check out the video to see how each comes into play.

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