A new employee just joined our team. Multiple team meetings were scheduled so we could get to know her. She was given a new computer and a smartphone, both preloaded with useful software and tools to help her do her job. She was also provided with a three-page onboarding plan, that included multiple training courses, to help her get up to speed quickly.
Why did we do all this?
We did it because we know that these things are important for engagement, and if she is engaged, she will want to stay with our company for a while.1 With the “great resignation” among us, our effort is more critically important than ever as turnover costs money and reduces efficiency. In this blog I will use our new team members experience to highlight three simple ways that cleaning managers can help increase employee engagement and reduce the cost of turnover in their organizations.
Get to know and use their superpowers
“What is your superpower?” is one of the most common questions asked of our new employees. Superpowers go beyond skills that have been or can be learned, like using Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, or knowing the steps to take to safely cleanup blood from a surface. Instead, they are the things that someone is inherently good at doing and that they can do with minimal effort.2 Some examples of superpowers are staying calm in stressful situations, being sensitive to what others are thinking and feeling, and collaborating well with others even when they have different views. The importance of recognizing superpowers is that they help employees feel seen and valued. This can help make them want to stay with an organization, but there is even more power in them than that. Superpowers can also help organizations operate more productively and efficiently. For example, if there is someone on the team who is good at and enjoys organizing events, they may be willing to be put in charge of team building activities. This is a win-win situation for a manager, who can then focus on other tasks. Invest time in learning as much as you can about your employees and watch engagement grow and turnover disappear.
Supply them with the best tools, equipment, and products
Everyone likes to use the best stuff. When it comes to tools, equipment, and products, there is a range in quality. To help front line cleaners do their jobs more efficiently, effectively, and safely, supply them the best you can afford (while setting the expectation that they need to be well cared for, so they last a long time). For example, here are a few options to consider:
- Microfiber cloths provide superior soil collection and removal over regular cotton cloths, and lead to noticeably cleaner environments.3
- Ready-to-use products cut out product preparation time and reduce the chance that a prepared product will be overdiluted (efficacy concerns), under diluted (toxicity concerns), or in a mislabeled secondary container (OSHA compliance concerns).
- Electrostatic sprayers provide a faster and more ergonomic solution to traditional manual trigger sprayers.4
- Specialty products that focus on specific needs can help get jobs done faster and with less effort.
- “Robots”, like automatic floor cleaners, can save considerable time, labor, and even reduce the risk of injury.
An operation that chooses the best products, tools, and equipment over one that does not will win an employee’s heart every time, which will lead to better engagement and less turnover.
Provide high-quality education & training
As in any field, front-line cleaners also need education and training to do their jobs efficiently, effectively, and safely. Education and training should include making sure that employees understand why their job is important, what policies and procedures they need to follow, and how to use tools, equipment, and products. Ongoing education and training also have the benefit of informally communicating that change is normal and should expected. There are many options for education and training for front-line cleaning staff and just like tools and equipment, they range in quality. To help you find or create the most efficient, effective, and valuable education and training programs, check out these blogs I wrote on Instructional Design, The ABC of Credentialing, and The Cs of Credibility. When education and training are provided, employees will better understand the value of the work they do, be better at doing their jobs, and be more open to change. These incredible outcomes are all common in engaged employees and will help them stay with your organization.5
We are in a challenging time right now with staffing shortages and increased customer demands for clean and safe indoor environments. Taking a lead from our organization, recognize your employees as individuals and use their superpowers to help the team, provide them with the best tools, equipment, and products so they can do their jobs efficiently, effectively, safely, and even enjoy using the latest and greatest technology. Finally, invest in their education and training so they understand why their jobs are important, become competent in their roles, and expect change. These are three simple ways to increase engagement and reduce turnover, so you get back to the most important task at hand: creating healthier and safer shared spaces for people to work, learn, live, and thrive.
- Sorenson S. How Employee Engagement Drives Growth. [Internet] Gallup Workplace. [cited 2022 June 13] Available from: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/236927/employee-engagement-drives-growth.aspx
- Henley D. Discover your superpower at work. Forbes [Internet]. 2021 [cited 2022 June 10]; Available from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/dedehenley/2021/03/07/discover-your-superpower-at-work/?sh=51acea2b7213
- Mollenkamp B. The right tool for the job. Cleanlink [Internet]. 2016 [cited 2022 June 10]; Available from: https://www.cleanlink.com/hs/article/Differences-Between-Microfiber-And-Cotton--20239
- Cadnum JL, Jencson AL, Livingston SH, Li D, Redmond SN, Pearlmutter B, et al. Evaluation of an Electrostatic Spray Disinfectant Technology for Rapid Decontamination of Portable Equipment and Large Open Areas in the Era of SARS-CoV-2. Am J Infect Control [Internet]. 2020 [cited 2022 June 10]; Available from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ajic.2020.06.002
- Bersin J. New Research Shows “Heavy Learners” More Confident, Successful, and Happy at Work [Internet]. LinkedIn. 2018 [cited 2022 June 10]. Available from: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/want-happy-work-spend-time-learning-josh-bersin/
Want to make sure the program you are investing in is credible? I am sure you do, but with the sheer number of online education and training programs available today, how do you do that? Understanding what makes a program credible is essential to ensuring a return on your investment, and in today’s competitive and resource constrained climate, it is even more important than ever!1
Credible, by definition, means “offering reasonable grounds for being believed.”2 For education and training programs, you can look at these three C's: Content, Confirmation and Credentials.
In this blog, I will cover these three aspects of an education and training program that can help with assessing its credibility. If you are interested in learning more about finding the right education and training program, check out my previous two blogs: The ABC's of Credentialing and the Why Instructional Design Matters.
The first question to ask is who developed the content and whether the person has the experience and expertise needed to teach the topic to someone in your position. Experience and expertise can be evaluated in a few different ways, but fortunately we are lucky today to have a great online resources, like LinkedIn, to help.
In addition, while content created by a single qualified individual can be appropriate, understanding if there were multiple experts involved in developing the course helps ensure that learning represents a broad point of view and not just the perspective one expert. A general rule of thumb is that the more qualified experts involved, and the more collaborative an effort, the more credible the program.
The next aspect to assess is whether the final evaluation (also called assessment, exam, test, or quiz) at the end of the program confirms that learning has occurred. While this may seem like somewhat of a “no brainer” (all tests and quizzes assess learning right?), not all evaluations are created equal.
How does one assess the assessment? You can start by finding out what the learning objectives are for the course and how many questions are on the final evaluation. There should be at least one, but in most cases more, questions for each learning objective. This explains why some of the tests you took in school were so long! Schools need to confirm that students learn the curriculum and there is no way to do it with short tests. The same holds true in adult education. The bottom line here is that if you are considering taking a three hour course, you should expect to learn a lot from it. And to confirm that you did, you should, at the very least, expect there to be a robust exam.
Lastly, consider these questions:
- How can you tell if someone’s credential is valid
- What are the measures taken to protect the validity of the credential earned?
This is another aspect of education and training that is built in to high quality programs, like those that are accredited. While it may take a lot of work to obtain a credential, in reality, anyone can say they have earned a credential or even provide “proof” of it by copying and altering another person’s certificate. The more credible programs will offer ways to make sure that the value of a credential is protected. This includes a verifiable link on the certificate in the form of a QR code and/or by providing a digital badge instead of just a static logo. Digital badges provide metadata that can verify that the credential is valid. These verification steps allow for stakeholders to confirm who a credential belongs to and if it is current. This can be helpful in a number of situations, including when an employer is evaluating a new potential employee.
This concludes my three part series on finding the right education and training program. With labor shortages, buildings reopening, and an increasing demand for cleaning for health, training and education of staff is more important than ever.3 Are you ready to take action and a find a program that is right for you? If yes, here is a summary list of the questions to ask. Happy learning!
- Is it a certificate or certification?
- Is it third party accredited?
- Was the course instructionally designed?
- Who developed the content?
- Is the exam robust enough to confirm that learning occurred?
- What is the credential and is it protected?
1. Federal Trade Commission. Choosing a vocational school or certificate program [Internet]. FTC Consumer Advice. [cited 2022 March 15]. Available from: https://consumer.ftc.gov/articles/choosing-vocational-school-or-certificate-program
2. Merriam-Webster. Definition of Credible [Internet]. Merriam-Webster. [cited 2022 March 15]. Available from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/credible
3. Amy W. Richardson. 2022 CMM In-House/Facility Management Benchmarking Survey Report [Internet]. CMM Online. [cited 2022 March 20]. Available from: https://www.cmmonline.com/articles/fmsurvey2022?_ga=2.193544229.920623462.1648472434-1882373344.1633539137
Sometimes it’s hard to remember that germs existed before COVID-19. I assure you they did, but the truth is the pandemic has become a catalyst in all our lives that sparked an immediate reverence and awareness about the importance of cleaning for health. With that came an acute mindfulness of the critical role that commercial cleaners play in helping to prevent the spread of germs in shared and public spaces.
From the start of the outbreak, commercial cleaning professionals have been thrust into the spotlight and classified as frontline essential workers. With a new emphasis on safeguarding public health, the bar for what was considered “clean” was raised, and many habitual cleaning practices were no longer enough. However, many cleaning professionals remain unsure what this means they should do differently and, importantly, how to do this efficiently and safely.
Cleaning and disinfecting beyond the pandemic
Research shows that heightened consumer interest and demand for maintaining cleaning and disinfecting routines in public spaces, continues to be top of mind. In fact, 60% of Americans bring disinfectants with them regularly to disinfect high-touch surfaces outside of the home.1 Rightfully so, because there are many other germs beyond COVID-19 that commonly spread via surfaces — such as cold and flu viruses, norovirus and MRSA. Outbreaks caused by these germs aren’t new and can disrupt, or even shut down, schools and other facilities that communities rely on every day. As a result, cleaning for health will remain a key part of a holistic strategy to help reduce this risk.
The pandemic highlighted the need for a more balanced approach to disinfection that can be sustained long-term. CloroxPro refers to this approach as Smart Disinfection, which, as its name suggests, emphasizes that there is a time to clean and a time to disinfect.
Smart Disinfection means targeting “higher-risk surfaces” and “higher-risk areas” to help reduce the transmission of germs that can cause illness, including increased occasions where populations are more vulnerable to infections such as daycares, schools, and eldercare and healthcare facilities.
CloroxPro is innovating for the cleaning professional
In a recent survey of facility managers and buildings service contractors, 91% say the staff at their company or facility have had to learn new cleaning and disinfecting protocols, and 96% say that janitorial staff are asked to do more now to help provide greater confidence to occupants and visitors.2 But training programs have not kept up with the needs of the industry.
To make this type of knowledge and education accessible, CloroxPro has developed CloroxPro™ HealthyClean™, a new online learning platform that delivers best-in-class education and training to help ensure cleaning professionals get the knowledge and skills needed to clean for health effectively, efficiently and safely. HealthyClean offers the only industrywide certificate course designed for the commercial cleaning industry to be accredited by the American National Standards Institute National Accreditation Board. The training covers actions that can be taken to do the job safely and effectively, the science behind how germs spread, and provides easy-to-follow procedures and best practices to ensure facilities can be cleaned and disinfected in a way that is efficient and sustainable long-term.
Discover more at CloroxPro.com/HealthyClean.
1. Clorox Custom Research, Clean Confidence Index: Wave 2 (n=2000), February 2021
2. Clorox Professional Online Facility Manager/Builder Service Contractor Study, October 2021
Have you ever wondered what makes an educational or training course effective? Or how to be sure that a course will be a valuable use of time? To be honest, I had not, until recently when I learned about instructional design. Now that I know what instructional design is, I will never look at another educational or training opportunity in the same way again. Given labor shortages and the need to constantly train new staff in a profession where education and training are critical, I hope you won’t either.
In this blog, I will cover what instructional design is, why it is important, and how you can tell if a course you are considering has been developed using instructional design.
After all, let’s face it, who has the time today to take courses that may not meet their needs?
What is instructional design?
Instructional design is a cyclical process and proven approach to designing and developing education and training. When used, it provides confidence that the learning objectives for the course are achieved by the student. In other words, it delivers better results. Instructional design is often referenced when creating adult learning courses, but good teachers of children also use instructional design in their classrooms every day.
There are five common steps of the instructional design process. Together they make up the ADDIE model, which is a well-established method of creating valuable learning materials.
Assessment: The first step in instructional design is the assessment process. This is when the instructional designer seeks to clarify the goals of the training and identify the key information they need to create a successful course. Common questions in the assessment step include:
- Who are the students or the target audience?
- What do the students need to know and why is the information important for them to learn?
- What are the obstacles and constraints that need to be considered before designing a course?
As with most projects, it is important to ask these fundamental questions first in order to reach successful outcomes. For example, if students do not have regular access to a computer, but do have access to a smartphone, it is important to create an online course that can be taken on a smartphone.
Design: The second step in the process is design.As the saying goes, “a goal without a plan is just a wish.” In the design step, the instructional designer will use the information collected in the assessment phase to plan and customize the design of the course to meet students’ needs. In this phase, the designer works on identifying the learning objectives (or the things they want the students to be able to do, know or feel when they complete the course). The designer sketches out the course and identifies the best way to teach the students the material; all the while considering how to keep the students attention and make the learning engaging and fun.
Development: In the third step of the process, the developer follows the design plans developed and creates the course materials. Course materials can take a variety of forms, and include things like online modules, workbook or handbooks, reference guides, handouts, etc.
Implementation: Before the developed course is ready to go “live” it is piloted to make sure that all the goals that were set forth at the beginning of the process are met. Once the pilot is complete and updates are made, the course can be provided to the broader student body.
Evaluation: The last step in the process is evaluation, a vital step to measure the effectiveness of the course. The statement “You can’t manage what you don’t measure” is as true in education as it is in business. In the final evaluation (also called a summative assessment or test), the student will be asked to demonstrate that they learned what they were supposed to learn. As information or data is gathered, it is fed back into the assessment step so upgrades can be made, and the instructional design cycle continues.
Why is instructional design important?
Here are five top reasons why instructional design helps to ensure learning goals are met:
- Increased relevancy for the student - As part of the first step in the instructional design process (assessment), learning about who the students are allows an instructional designer to create a course that is customized and highly relevant. The fact that much learning has moved from in-person to online eLearning today is a result of our changing world and the needs of the students to have flexible and convenient training.
- Facilitates learning and retention - With so many life experiences, adults learn differently than kids, and instructional designers take this into account when designing courses. In fact, the entire process is built around ensuring that learning happens and the techniques used help recall information more readily. For example, the use of images, charts, videos and infographics over text are proven techniques that help to engage the student and obtain better outcomes.
- Efficient and cost effective – By focusing on student needs, avoiding obstacles, and using proven processes and techniques, instructional design ensures that students learn the knowledge and skills they need in an efficient and effective way.
- More engaging and fun - Instructional design seeks to keep things interesting for the students so they are engaged in the learning. Some instructional design best practices, like the use of practice activities and games, allow for students to apply what they learned during the course. This approach helps to ensure that students are ready for the final evaluation of learning at the end of the course.
- Based on evidence - Instructional design processes and best practices are constantly being evaluated to ensure that they are supported by data. Final evaluations provide validation or a record that the students have learned the material. This data is used to feed ongoing updates to ensure that the course continues to provide relevancy for the students.
How do you know if a course has been developed using instructional design?
Here are three different questions you can ask to find out if a course you are considering has been developed using instructional design.
- Is it 3rd party accredited? The easiest way to have confidence that course you are considering has been developed using instructional design is to find out if it has been accredited by a 3rd party that requires it. For example, the ASTM E2659 Standard Practice for Certificate Programs requires that certificate programs are created and guided by instructional design. ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) then accredits certificate programs against this internally recognized standard in their Certificate Accreditation Program (CAP). Learn more about ANAB and certificate accreditation here.
- What was the instructional design model used? Another option is to ask the instructor or program administer which instructional design methods were used to develop the course. If they don’t quickly come back with an answer, you will have yours. Any model references should include the basic steps of instructional design as described above. Find a list of instructional design models here.
- Do the course materials appear to include the important components of instructional design? This is probably the most difficult question to ask out of the three, but a well-informed (as you are now) student should be able to tell if a course has been designed following an instructional design model. Robert Gagne’s nine steps for building instruction (another proven approach that is utilized in instructional design) can help you identify a course that has been instructionally designed. At the very least, all courses should inform the students of the learning objectives, and include why the information is important to them. Learning objectives should be objective and straight forward. If you are confused on what you will learn or what you will be capable of by the end of a course before you start it, your alarm bells should be ringing. Read more about Gagne’s nine instructional events here.
Now that you know what instructional design is and why it is important, I hope you, like me, will never look at another education and training course in the same way again. Understanding instructional design and asking the right questions to find out if a course you are considering was developed using instructional design can give you confidence that your investment in training is worth the investment of time and money.
Learn more about instructional design:
- Association for Talent Development (ATD): www.td.org
- International Society for Performance Improvement (ISPI): ispi.org
- InstructionalDesign.org: instructionaldesign.org
The pandemic highlighted what many in the cleaning industry already knew – the need is high for quality education and training that enables staff to get their job done effectively. There are several options available to help meet this need for cleaning managers, supervisors, building owners, or frontline cleaners, but how do you decide which one is worth your time and money?
This is a great question, and the topic of this new three blog series on education and training. To start, I’ll define important and often misused terms related to education and training outcomes, also called credentialing. As you will see below, the terms relate to different types of programs with different requirements and learning outcomes.
What Is A Credential?
Derived from the Latin word “credere,” which means to “believe, trust in, and rely on,” a credential is something that warrants credit or confidence in someone’s knowledge and skill.1-3 There are different ways to obtain credentials and these include certificates and certifications. These terms are sometimes used interchangeably; however, they have different meanings.4-6
A Certificate reflects completion of an education and/or training course and the achievement of specific learning objectives. A certificate may be valid for a certain length of time and typically does not require ongoing maintenance or renewal. This means certificate owners do not need to submit continuing education credits to the issuing organization to keep their certificate valid.
An example of a certificate program is the National Restaurant Association’s ServSafe Food Handler Program.
A Certification is different from a certificate. Certifications are based upon assessing an individual’s current knowledge and skills and are issued by a third party (a person or group beside the organization issuing the program) that has been deemed a certification body or is a professional organization. A certification program has ongoing requirements for maintaining proficiency or competency in the field. Certification is granted when an individual shows that they have meet the minimum criteria through an assessment or exam, and certifications are valid for a specific time period. Individuals who successfully pass a certification exam are considered “certified.”
An example of a certification is the Certification Board of Infection Control and Epidemiology’s (CBIC) Certified in Infection Control (CIC).
So what makes a certificate and certification worth time and money? The best place to start is to see if the program is accredited.
According to the Institute for Credentialing Excellence, accreditation is the process by which a credentialing or educational program is evaluated against defined standards by a third party.7 When in compliance with these standards, it is awarded recognition. This means that high quality certificates and certification programs will be evaluated by third parties and against a set of specific requirements or standards. While out of scope for this article, it should be noted there are also accreditations related to facilities and/or organizations.
ANSI National Accreditation Board (ANAB) is an example of a third party accrediting organization that accredits certificates (against ASTM E2659 Standard Practice for Certificate Programs) and certifications (against IEC 17024 – General Requirements for Bodies Operating Certification of Persons).
Another term to know is designations. Designations are titles or labels that certificate holders or certified personnel are granted to use after they have completed a certificate course or obtain a certification.8 Designation acronyms are abbreviated titles, usually the acronym form of the designation, which the certificate holder is granted by the certificate issuer or certification issuer to use.
An example of a designation and designation acronym of an accredited certification is IFMA’s Certified Facility Manager (CFM).
In addition to understanding the terms associated with high quality education and training, it’s also important to understand if the credential will meet the needs of the learner. The highest quality educational programs are developed using industry best practices in instructional design and verified by external stakeholders. I’ll cover what instructional design is and how to judge the quality of a certificate program in my next blog. I hope you’ll check it out!
1. Online Etymology Dictionary [internet] [cited 2021 Nov 2] Available from: https://www.etymonline.com/word/credential
2. Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary [internet] [cited 2021 Nov 2] Available from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/credential
3. ANSI National Accreditation Board. Certification vs Certificate. [internet] [cited 2021 Nov 2] Available from: https://anab.ansi.org/certification-certificate
4. Institute for Credentialing Excellence. Certificate vs Certification. [internet] [cited 2021 Nov 22] Available from: https://www.credentialingexcellence.org/Accreditation/New-to-Accreditation/Certificate-vs-Certification
5. Georgetown University. What is the difference Between a Certificate and a Certification [internet] 2017 [cited 2021 Nov 2] Available from: https://scs.georgetown.edu/news-and-events/article/6642/difference-between-certificate-and-certification
6. Merriam-Webster[internet] [cited 2021 Nov 3] Available from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/accreditation
7. Institute for Credentialing Excellence. Certificate vs Certification. [internet] [cited 2021 Nov 2] Available from: https://www.credentialingexcellence.org/Accreditation/New-to-Accreditation/What-is-Accreditation
8. Merriam-Webster.com [internet] [cited 2021 Nov 3] Available from: https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/designation
On March 11, 2020, the National Basketball Association (NBA) announced the suspension of the 2019-2020 season as COVID-19 rates continued to climb and risk athlete and fan safety. Athletes and fans were unable to reenter the arena for nearly a year as arena operations teams developed multiple plans to ensure a safe and healthy reopening. One arena operation team that worked around the clock to welcome back fans and athletes was located at Chase Center, home of the six-time NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. Chase Center reopened their doors nearly nine months after the Golden State Warriors had played their last game, thanks in part to the implementation of innovative technological solutions and robust cleaning and disinfecting protocols. We spoke with Brandon Schneider, the team’s President & Chief Operating Officer, about how Chase Center’s staff is navigating this tricky time to keep everyone healthy and safe.
A Timeout to Strategize
At the start of the pandemic, guidance changed rapidly as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) continued to research SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, and how it spreads across populations. The arena operations team at Chase Center also faced difficulties at the start, but leapt into planning mode with Jackie Ventura, the director of facility health and hygiene for Chase Center, among others. “We were the first NBA team to create a dedicated Health and Hygiene department,” said Schneider. Ventura and her team created protocols for every potential athlete and fan interaction, including health and safety plans that were submitted to city health officials, which allowed the Golden State Warriors to host training camps and start the season. The plans established during this time were used to train the dedicated Chase Center Clean Team and will be repurposed moving forward to address other germs, especially during cold and flu season.
Above and Beyond the Guidance
Since the arena operations team wanted to ensure that their cleaning protocols were going above and beyond the guidance, they collaborated with ABM to develop enhanced protocols due to the organization’s wealth of resources in terms of health and hygiene best practices.
Chase Center was also one of the first major sports and entertainment venues to receive the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC)’s STAR facility accreditation, validating the steps taken by the arena operations team to adhere to effective and efficient cleaning and disinfecting protocols within the cleaning industry.
Deploying New Gameday Measures
When the Chase Center opened to fans in April of this year, proof of a negative COVID-19 test or vaccination was required.
To create an even safer indoor environment, the arena operations team integrated new technological solutions that have proven to also enhance and streamline the spectator experience. One such advancement was the revamp of the Warriors + Chase Center app, which now allows fans to manage their game experience from the palm of their hand. From reserving a parking spot and managing their tickets to ordering and paying for food, the app helps provide convenience to fans by limiting visits to kiosks.
To disinfect, the arena operations team leveraged the Clorox® Total 360® System and the Clorox® Total 360® ProPack System, a backpack electrostatic sprayer, throughout the arena. Both of these electrostatic sprayers thoroughly deliver Clorox disinfectant to surfaces. The Clorox® Total 360® Systems are now being used to disinfect the Golden State Warriors’ player practice facilities on a daily basis, as well as within Chase Center bowl seating areas and premium spaces before and after use for Warriors’ games, concerts or private events.
“The Clorox® Total 360® System and Clorox® Total 360® ProPack System have been invaluable assets in providing an effective disinfection tool that we can use to sanitize and disinfect large surface areas,” stated Schneider. “In a venue the size of Chase Center, they save us a lot of time as we can treat large areas like our seating bowl very quickly. We feel very fortunate to be able to collaborate with a best-in-class company like Clorox whose products the public have a lot of faith in.”
A Bright Season Ahead
Through a dedicated effort and integrating a holistic strategy to support a safe return, Chase Center was successful in welcoming back their fans. And as “The Dubs” fans excitedly head back to their seats, a renewed purpose for delivering and maintaining a seamless and safe visitor experience is top of mind. "My favorite memory from the past year was the moment I got to greet the first fan to enter the building for our first in-person game of the year,” Schneider said. “It marked the culmination of over a year’s worth of planning and hard work to get to that point. We are looking forward to a very busy fall at Chase Center.”
With a long scientific history and many promising attributes, it is hard to understand why hypochlorous acid (HOCl) - based disinfectants aren’t used in every commercial cleaning operation.1-3 In one recent review article focusing on the use as a disinfectant, the authors concluded that HOCl “comprises many of the desired effects of the ideal disinfectant: It is easy to use, is inexpensive, has a good safety profile, and can be used to disinfect large areas quickly and with a broad range of bactericidal and virucidal effects.”4,5 The reason is, as with most things, the devil is in the details. In this blog, I’ll break down those details by answering these questions:
- What is HOCl?
- How are HOCl-based solutions made and sold?
- Which HOCl-based solution is right for you?
What is HOCl?
HOCl is a weak acid that is formed when chlorine (a gas) dissolves in water. It is used as an active ingredient in sanitizers and disinfectants because of its ability to break apart cell membranes, similar to the mechanism of action of sodium hypochlorite (bleach) or hydrogen peroxide. Water solutions of HOCl are in the neutral to slightly acidic pH range. HOCl has many other common names (not all technically accurate) including “electrolyzed water,” “activated water,” “enhanced water,” “superoxidized water,” and the most technically inaccurate of all is “no-chemical” (because everything, even water, is a chemical!).
HOCl is surprisingly effective at very low concentrations. It takes only a very small amount of HOCl to effectively kill bacteria and viruses and destroy proteins like inanimate pet allergens in comparison to higher pH bleach-based products. Despite this outstanding ability, it is also gentle on surfaces, and when no additional ingredients like surfactants or detergents are added to the final formula, HOCl solutions leave behind minimal residue. Evidence of this is demonstrated by the HOCl-based solutions on the market that are EPA approved as food contact sanitizers. These products do not require a rinse step when used on surfaces that come into contact with food.
How are HOCl-based solutions made and sold?
There are three main ways that HOCl-based solutions are made and sold:
- Ready to Use (RTU) products are typically made by adjusting the pH of a sodium hypochlorite (bleach) solution at the manufacturing plant. To do this, a solution of sodium hypochlorite, which is typically basic (or alkaline) on the pH scale, is brought down to a neutral pH by adding a pH-adjustor.
- In onsite generation systems, electricity is run through a brine of salt and water. To do this, salt (or sometimes called a “precursor”) is added to water prior to the electricity being applied.
- There are also tablet products that are capable of making HOCl solutions on site as well. Sodium dichloroisocyanurate (NaDCC or SDIC) is a colorless, water-soluble solid that creates HOCl when it dissolves in water.
Which HOCl-based solution is right for you?
As with all products, there are pros and cons, and this holds true for HOCl-based solutions too. All HOCl-based solutions offer some promising benefits in regards to safety and surface compatibility, but there are also some watch outs to be aware of. Below is a table that highlights the differences between the three common types of HOCl-based solutions and a list of questions that can be used to assess any HOCl-based product before you buy.
Table: Pros and Cons of three common types of HOCl-based solutions
|Ready to Use (RTU)||• Safety profile|
• Longer shelf life (generally 1 year)
• Guaranteed concentration and micro-efficacy and
• No upfront device costs
• No contamination risk
• No bottles to clean
|Higher price per bottle Bottles may not be reusable|
|On-site generated||• Safety profile |
• Only make what you use
• Cost less per oz. (after system purchase)
|• Shorter shelf life (days to weeks)|
• Up front cost of system
• Cost of system maintenance
• More work/more steps for end users
• Bottles must be cleaned between uses
• Concentration and efficacy not guaranteed
|Tablet||• Safety profile (of final solution)|
• Lower shipping costs (no liquid)
• Takes up less room in storage
• Long shelf life (of tablet)
• No upfront device cost
• Longer contact times
|• Shorter shelf life when in solution (days to weeks)|
• Toxicity of concentrated tablet form (wear gloves and goggles when dissolving)
• Dissolving can take time
• Bottles/dissolving containers must be cleaned between uses
• More work/more steps for end users
Questions to ask about all HOCl-based solutions before you buy:
- Is it EPA-registered? RTU and tablets should have an EPA registration number on the product label. Onsite generation systems may not have an EPA registration because the HOCl-based solution is not made until after the product is sold. Also, watch out that you are not confusing EPA establishment numbers for EPA registration numbers. These are two different things!6
- Does it disinfect and/or sanitize? Disinfectants are EPA registered to kill illness-causing bacteria, viruses, and sometimes fungi, while sanitizers are only EPA registered to kill illness-causing bacteria.
- What is the contact time? As with any product, shorter is usually better, but longer contact times can be acceptable in some cases. Contact times should always be built into your processes so that cleaners don’t have downtime while the product works. In some cases, if HOCl solutions do not need to be rinsed, then longer contact times may be acceptable because they won’t impact the speed of your cleaning processes.
- Does it contain a surfactant (aka detergent)? Many HOCl products on the market do not contain a surfactant, but some do. Products that do not contain surfactants can be great for routine, preventative cleaning and disinfecting, but a second product that contains a surfactant may be needed to handle tougher cleaning jobs prior to disinfecting. Solutions that contain surfactants are more likely to leave behind a residue that will need to be wiped off.
- Is it safe to use through an electrostatic sprayer? Not all HOCl-based solutions have been EPA approved to be used through electrostatic sprayers, which means they haven’t been confirmed for safety and microbial efficacy. Check the products master label before utilizing electrostatic applicator technology with HOCl-based solutions.
- Is it considered food-contact safe? HOCl-solutions that are food-contact safe do not need to be rinsed or wiped after use. This can save you time and give your building occupants and management peace of mind. Again, check the EPA master label to confirm the directions for use.
Using the pros and cons list and answering the above questions can help you narrow in on which option to purchase but remember this important implementation tip: Start small with implementing any new product (test it with one crew, in one area for a predetermined amount of time) and don’t make further changes until you have reason to believe that the product is a benefit to your organization. Changes, even great ones, take time.
CloroxPro and Clorox Healthcare are proud tooffer two RTU HOCl-based solutions for consideration in your organization. You can learn more about them here:
1. Smith JL, Drennan AM, Rettie T, Campbell W. Experimental Observations on the antiseptic action of hypochlorous acid and its application to wound treatment. Br Med J. [Internet] 1915 Jul 24; 2(2847):129-36. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2302602/pdf/brmedj07241-0005.pdf
2. Garibyan, Lilit et al. Advanced aging skin and itch: addressing an unmet need. Dermatologic therapy [Internet] 2013 26(2): 92-103. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4051285/
3. Moorman E, Montazeri N, Jaykus L-A. Efficacy of neutral electrolyzed water for inactivation of human norovirus. Appl Environ Microbiol [Internet] 2017 Aug 1; 83(16). Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5541222/
4. Block MS, Rowan BG. Hypochlorous acid: a review. J Oral Maxillofac Surg [Internet] 2020 Sep; 78(9): 1461–1466. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7315945/
5. CDC. Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities (2008) Properties of an ideal disinfectant. [Internet] 2008. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/disinfection/tables/table2.html
6. EPA Label Review Manual Chapter 14: Identification Numbers. [Internet] 2012. Available from: https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2015-03/documents/chap-14-nov-2012.pdf
This last year has been incredibly hard, but the future looks a little brighter. With the number of vaccinations increasing significantly every day, and the CDC’s new guidance on how kids can safely return to school, there is a real reason to be hopeful that we are heading toward better times, and into our long anticipated “new normal.”
For those of us in the cleaning industry, the future presents us with another glimmer of hope. The pandemic brought to light the importance of cleaning, not only for aesthetics and building preservation, but also for health. In fact, it can be argued that the public had very little knowledge and appreciation of cleaning for health prior to the pandemic. Hundreds if not thousands of articles have been written about cleaning for health, and terms like “disinfecting” and “contact time” (also called “dwell time” or “wet time”) are now household words.
This public awareness has spilled over into the commercial cleaning industry, and businesses have adapted to ensure they are addressing their customer’s concerns and desires for cleaner environments. As a result, the focus on cleaning has increased and I don’t know about you, but as a consumer and public health professional, I LOVE where we are heading. Gone are the days of grimacing every time I need to pump gas or put my pin number into one of those retail or gas station keypads. We have COVID-19 to thank for this new awareness, and I do not want to go back!
But with progress comes reflection, and it is important to recognize that, while we’ve come a long way, we are not done yet. While “disinfecting” and “contact time” may be household words, there are still far too many accounts of misinformation and inappropriate cleaning practices. Some examples include:
- The use of the term “sanitize” to address SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) on surfaces. This is inappropriate because sanitizers are not EPA-registered to kill viruses.
- Reports of spraying and immediately wiping to disinfect without waiting the contact time are common. In the keypad example, if an EPA-registered disinfectant wasn’t used, or if the contact time wasn’t met, we cannot be sure that the aesthetically clean keypad was disinfected.
- The internet is full of pictures of the incorrect use of electrostatic sprayers intended for use on surfaces, by inappropriately spraying them into the air. Cleaning companies are expending resources to disinfect surfaces that no one even touches and are not considered higher-risk for germ transmission.
Not only are these examples problematic from a resource perspective, but they have caused many to question the true value of cleaning, leading to concerns about “Hygiene Theater.”
Clearly, there is more work to do. If we want to see the positive changes from COVID-19 continue post-pandemic, we must prioritize correcting the misinformation and inappropriate practices. Here is what I recommend:
- Optimize surface hygiene — Instead of spraying everything, focus cleaning and disinfecting efforts ONLY on shared and commonly touched surfaces that are responsible for spreading germs. While sometimes called targeted disinfection, at CloroxPro, we call this “Smart Disinfection.” Since we know that there are real world limitations – additional staffing needed on top of existing cleaning staff for instance, CloroxPro has great tools (see here and here) to help you prioritize the higher risk areas in your facility. If you still do not have the cleaning staff to clean and disinfect the higher risk areas, one option is to recruit building occupants to help do the work. Employees can help clean in workplaces, teachers can help clean in schools, and clinical staff can help clean in healthcare facilities.
- Increase access to education and training — Cleaning for health takes knowledge and skill. The more training employees have, the better they will be able to do their jobs. Increased training increases job satisfaction, provide cleaners with confidence that they are experts at what they do, and helps them understand why their jobs are important to the greater good. If recruiting building occupants to help, do not forget to train them too. This will not only teach them about the proper use of cleaning products, but it will also open their eyes to some of the rigors of daily cleaning and disinfecting.
- Emphasize Personal Responsibility — This goes for everyone, not just cleaning staff. We all need to get better at washing our hands, coughing into our elbow, staying home when sick, getting vaccinated, and wearing PPE when appropriate. Policies and procedures can go a long way to ensuring that staff and building occupants minimize the spread of germs. Document and train on these policies and procedures, and then be sure to audit for compliance regularly to make sure they are followed.
- Keep Communicating! — As COVID-19 fades, so likely will the public’s focus on cleaning for health. Many years of evidence tells us this will happen, as human interest always spikes with the fear and then declines with the relief. Our job as cleaning professionals is now to stay in the limelight, in a positive way. To do this, we need to continue to spread the word about the importance of cleaning for health, what needs to be true to achieve it, and how to do it responsibly (e.g. SMART Disinfection). We need to keep sharing that cleaning for health is based in science, that it takes knowledge, skill, practice, and that that the people doing the work and the processes they follow are just as important as the great products they are using.
COVID-19 is not the first pandemic, and it certainly will not be the last. Many public health professionals are already working on advocating for better preparedness because it is clear now that the lack of preparation was, at least in part, the cause of so much devastation. The cleaning industry can also help prepare, starting with remaining vigilant with the progress we have made. Yes, we have made great progress, but our journey to be as good as we can be is not quite over yet.
For help with preparing for the New Normal, including the area risk assessment tool I mentioned above, please visit our website: https://www.cloroxpro.com/resource-center/preparing-for-the-new-normal/.
“Never a doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has." ~Margaret Mead
I just attended my favorite conference — APHA (American Public Health Association) 2020. Quoting APHA, “The APHA Annual Meeting and Expo is the largest and most influential yearly gathering of public health professionals, bringing the public health community together to experience robust scientific programming, networking, social events, poster sessions and more.”
I was particularly excited this year as the conference was scheduled to be in my “backyard” (Bay Area, California). However, as a result of COVID-19, the event was cancelled and instead moved to a virtual format. That said, I was grateful for the opportunity to experience it in this way. While I did miss the ability to connect with colleagues and meet other passionate public health professionals face to face, I appreciated the ability to jump from session-to-session easily, and the ability to post questions in the chat box. Gone were the days of nervously standing up in front of the crowd and waiting for someone to bring over the mic.
What didn’t change was that the content was relevant and inspiring, and I’m excited to share three top takeaways, with lots of references for you to peruse.
Get ready: The time to prepare for the COVID-19 vaccine is now.
Vaccines are one of the most important tools in the public health toolbox, and I know we are all anxious for a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine when it becomes available. The good news is that there are currently eight COVID-19 vaccines in stage three (final robust stage to ensure efficacy and safety) of development, and therefore it is likely that we will see one with approval soon. The FDA has also taken measures to ensure approved vaccines will be safe and effective and that the benefits outweigh the risks.
When a vaccine is approved, however, it will take time to vaccinate a significant part of the population, which will be essential in order to move forward as quickly as possible. In fact, until herd immunity is reached, which is the goal of any successful vaccination campaign, current prevention measures will remain important to help mitigate the spread of the infection. So, while a vaccine is coming, social distancing, wearing masks, and hand and environmental hygiene won’t be going away for a while.
Another thing to prepare for is who will get the vaccine first, as demand is surely going to outpace supply. The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine has published a Framework for prioritization of vaccines, based on those who need it most. Take a look and see where you and your employees line up.
Double check: Workplace safety is more important than ever.
According to the Occupational and Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), current requirements apply to preventing occupational exposure to SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19). In addition, there are 28 OSHA-approved State Plans, operating statewide occupational safety and health programs, with standards and enforcement programs that are at least as effective as OSHA's and may have different or more stringent requirements.
Despite these facts, there continue to be concerns about too many workplace related deaths, injuries and illnesses each year, and concern continues to build as the U.S. works to keep the economy strong while controlling the spread of COVID-19. A recent assessment published by The Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies found a correlation between COVID-19 complaints to OSHA, and U.S. deaths 17 days later, suggesting ineffective workplace protections may be a driving factor behind the high U.S. death toll.
This and other data has led to a number of states, including Virginia, Oregon, Michigan and California to take additional measures (in the form of Executive Orders and/or Emergency Temporary Standards) to protect workers against COVID-19. Public health leaders like David Michaels, Ph.D, MD from George Washington University believe that ensuring employee health and safety is essential if we are going to stop the pandemic. With COVID-19 cases at an all-time high, it’s a good time to double check that you are doing everything possible to protect yourself and your employees from the consequences of infection with the virus.
OSHA also requires employers to protect workers from exposure to hazardous chemicals used for cleaning and disinfection, which is another important consideration given the increase in cleaning and disinfecting that many businesses have adopted as a result of the pandemic.
Get involved: Public Health is everyone’s business.
While much of public health is funded by government and non-profit organizations, public health helps everyone and should be a shared responsibility. The more we can all get involved, the less reliant we will be on the government for this basic human right.
Getting involved is easy. Here are some ideas to help you get started:
- Learn more about public health and public health issues. This can be done by reviewing the recently published Healthy People 2030 priorities, the renewed 10 Essential Public Health Services, attending free webinars sponsored by APHA, and by attending APHA 2021 in Denver Oct 22–27.
- Provide health and wellness programs for all employees, and prioritize keeping them safe at work by preventing exposures to dangerous situations and workplace accidents. As an added bonus, helping employees stay physically, mentally and emotionally healthy can pay dividends for businesses later on.
- Prioritize the development of products and services that seek to make a difference to public health.
- Donate funding, expertise and/or time to groups that work hard to improve public health.
- Volunteer in Public Health.
If you’re already involved, these ideas can help you continue with your public health journey. Remember, as the late C. Everett Koop (former pediatric surgeon and U.S. Surgeon General) once said, “Health care is vital to all of us some of the time, but public health is vital to all of us all of the time.”
Have you been asked to take on the role of part time cleaner in your facility or business? If so, welcome to the club!
With the COVID-19 virus still widespread across the U.S., employers everywhere, from schools, offices, athletic facilities, movie theaters, hotels, restaurants, hospitals, and more, are asking non-cleaning staff to clean.
In a recent back to school survey, more than half (58%) of 120 educators polled responded that they would be asking current staff members/teachers to do some cleaning and disinfecting as part of their regular duties. In other facilities, box office staff, airline gate attendants, check-out clerks, nurses, receptionists and more are being asked to help out with daily cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched and shared surfaces. The CDC has even stated in the Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes, that “This guidance is intended for all Americans.”
Depending on your personality and past experiences, you may have had any one of these three reactions:
- What? No way, cleaning isn’t in my job description and I don’t have time for that!
- Great, cleaning is easy enough. I just use common sense, right?
- OK, but I don’t know how to clean properly. Where do I get training?
The good news is that no matter which group you fall into, the COVID-19 pandemic is offering up an opportunity to learn about something many of us wouldn’t have taken the time to do before. And that is how to clean and disinfect properly.
The truth is, although many don’t realize it, properly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces takes education, training, and even practice to perfect. In fact, there is an entire industry focused on helping to ensure that cleaning professionals get what they need to do their job well. IICRC, ISSA, and AHE are just a few examples of organizations with this goal in mind.
While your employer is ultimately responsible for making sure you are educated and trained, here are some basics to help get you started. You can use this information to talk to your employer about what’s important, and potentially even as a starting place for a “new cleaner” training guide for your facility.
What is the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting?
- Cleaning is the physical removal of unwanted matter, including dirt, dust, soil and some pathogens.
- Sanitizing is the killing of bacteria, and is most often applicable in food service.
- Disinfecting destroys or inactivates both the bacteria and viruses (like SARS-CoV-2) on hard, nonporous surfaces.
Does cleaning always need to be done before disinfecting?
No. Cleaning and disinfecting can be done at the same time if these criteria are met:
- The surface is free of visible soil.
- The product is a “one-step” cleaner disinfectant, which means the product is both a cleaner and disinfectant.
How can I be sure I’m using a product that kills “xyz” germ?
- Check the back label on the product. If the product has an EPA Registration number and says that it kills “xyz” germ then you can be confident that the product works. Just make sure to also read the directions for use, including the dilution ratios if appropriate, on the label and follow them in practice.
- For SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, make sure you are using an EPA-registered product on list N.
- Never mix cleaning products! This is important for efficacy AND safety.
What else is important to understand about the product, and where can I get the information?
- What the contact time is — see the product label
- What Personnel Protective Equipment (PPE) and precautions are needed to protect you from:
- The product — see the product label
- The contaminants (e.g., SARS-CoV-2) in the environment — check with your employer and the CDC website.
- How to store and dispose of the product safely — see the product label
- Mixing/dilution information — see the product label
What else do I need to know to clean and disinfect properly?
- Know what you are responsible for and how often you should be cleaning and disinfecting. Ask your employer for clarity if not clear.
- Focus on preventing cross contamination — this is what happens when germs are inadvertently spread from one area to another. Here are some best practices to help avoid cross contamination during cleaning and disinfecting:
- Always clean from top to bottom so the dirt, dust and pathogens that fall down will get cleaned up as you move lower.
- Always clean from clean to dirty to avoid spreading germs from dirty areas to clean areas.
- Fold each cloth until it is the size of your hand. After each use, find a clean side of the cloth to use on the next surface.
- Know what jobs require the professional custodial/EVS team (e.g., blood and body fluid clean-up) and call them when needed instead of doing it yourself.
COVID-19 has presented us with quite a challenge to say the least. Fortunately, there have also been a few “silver linings” along the way. One is the knowledge and skills about cleaning and disinfecting properly that few had before. If you have been asked to take on additional cleaning and disinfecting responsibilities as part of your current role, as in any profession, education and training on how to do the job right are essential. This will not only help ensure goals of the job (e.g., to reduce the spread of germs in the environment) are achieved, but to also ensure that the job is done safely.
For the latest information on COVID-19 and variants, visit our CloroxPro COVID-19 Hub.