The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) have continued to stress the importance of cleaning and safety amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. As students continue to return to school in person away from the hybrid model and many businesses end their work from home strategies, everyone must remember the importance of maintaining a clean and healthy workplace.
The best way to ensure that everyone stays safe, especially in schools, is to ensure that surfaces and facilities are being cleaned and disinfected regularly. We have created the ultimate school cleaning checklist to help you understand the best practices for creating a learning environment in which students can flourish.
Keeping Your School Clean
The most important aspect of effectively maintaining a clean and safe facility is understanding the distinctions in terms and believing in its importance. Pathogens live on surfaces that easily transmit to other individuals, especially surfaces of items that are commonly shared or in high-traffic areas. The best way for individuals to maintain safety is by practicing preventative methods, such as regularly washing their hands. Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces also helps minimize the number of germs that spread among a community.
Although the words are sometimes used synonymously, cleaning, disinfecting and sanitizing are separate processes. Cleaning decreases the risk of infection from surfaces using cleaning products such as soap and detergents. Daily cleaning suffices for areas in which there are no confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19. Disinfecting kills germs on the surface and involves CDC-certified products. This process should be performed regularly in spaces with high transmission rates of COVID-19 and other illnesses. Sanitizing lowers the amount of germs by cleaning or disinfecting.
Disinfecting typically requires the product to be left on the surface for a period of time before wiping it away. This allows the product to kill the pathogens. If a surface is visibly dirty, you should first clean it with a soap or detergent to remove the dirt. Follow this process with a disinfectant to kill the remaining germs and eliminate the threat. These processes should be repeated frequently in high-traffic areas or on surfaces that are commonly shared among a population of people.
Developing an Effective School Cleaning Routine
Routine cleaning and disinfection permits the regular assessment of spaces and decrease the risk of transmission. This is especially important in schools, where rooms are densely populated with multiple shared surfaces and spaces. Develop a plan for cleaning practices in your school. Determine what needs to be cleaned and prioritize high-touch surfaces to be cleaned daily. Disinfect as needed depending on the health of your community. Consider what types of surfaces are high-touch and ensure that you use the proper cleaners or disinfectants.
During the cleaning routine, be sure that you protect yourself and other staff by taking preventative measures. Ensure that cleaning staff receive proper training to ensure that cleaning and disinfecting products are used the correct way. This includes applying the products appropriately to their intended types of surfaces. Comply with the instructions on the product label — some products recommend that users wear PPE, such as gloves or goggles, and others require specific types of ventilation.
The instruction labels provide information that encourages safety but also guides toward effective use of products. Use the recommended amount of product — applying too much may cause damage to a surface and waste the product, while not using enough may not sufficiently remove the threat that the products aim to minimize. Some products require water dilution before use. Use room temperature water in these cases unless the label states otherwise. Be sure to clearly label cleaning and disinfectant solutions that have been diluted.
Chemicals and products should never be mixed, as combinations of some substances can produce hazardous gases. Use only one product at a time to avoid potentially dangerous results. Additionally, the products should only be applied to the intended surfaces. Avoid unnecessary exposure to these products by way of ingestion or direct application to the skin, as they may cause serious harm. It is important to use the products only as intended, indicated on the label.
Be sure that cleaning staff washes their hands before, during and after cleaning. This step should be completed even if gloves were worn during the cleaning process. When your hands are visibly dirty, you should always wash with soap and water. In cases in which your hands are not visibly dirty or soap and water are unavailable, then use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that is composed of at least 60% alcohol. Although soap and water are preferred, the hand sanitizer will temporarily suffice until hand washing is available.
Be conscious of special considerations that need to be made for individuals with asthma. Some cleaning products and disinfectants trigger asthmatic responses, so proper precautions should be taken to avoid serious issues.
School Building Cleaning Checklist
Some parts of a school need to be cleaned more regularly than other parts. Regular cleaning is extremely important due to the high number of germs that can live in various areas of a school. Students returning to school after summer or winter break often have a weaker immune system because of the decreased exposure to various germs and illnesses. This makes it extremely important to ensure that the school is sufficiently cleaned when they returned, as the minimization of germs decreases the chances of various outbreaks.
Although easy to overlook, the floors can permit buildup of various dirt, dust and germs. For tile, wood and vinyl floors, make sure that the cleaning crew sweeps and mops. Sweeping will help gather the larger pieces of trash and dirt that may have accumulated there, and mopping applies a disinfectant to sanitize the area.
Carpets and rugs should be vacuumed thoroughly to eliminate buildup of dirt and allergens. The fabric materials harbor these unwanted particles and pose health concerns, so they should be cleaned well and regularly. When possible, launder fabric items like rugs on the warmest possible water setting. Be sure to dry them completely. Using an EPA-approved stain remover, deep clean surfaces with stains. Some substances will attract bugs and other pests while trapping particles of dust and germs in the classroom.
2. Windows and Walls
Microfiber does exceptional job of collecting and trapping small particles into the fabric. Pair a microfiber cloth with a glass cleaner to wash the windows in the school. While cleaning the windows has aesthetic benefits, windows also collect dirt and germs.
The same kind of cloth paired with an all-purpose cleaner works wonderfully for cleaning the walls. Many people regularly come into direct and indirect contact with walls. Whether students lean up against them, drag their hands along the wall or simply walk near them, the walls gather dirt, allergens and germs that easily transmit to other people. Be sure to also clean the lockers and cubbies with an all-purpose cleaner, as they are also common touch points.
3. Recreational Equipment
Recreational equipment, both indoors and outside, experiences frequent contact with students and is a great place for dirt and germs to build up. Spray or power wash outdoor equipment like playgrounds. Reducing the amount of dirt on a playground set is important to help avoid rusting and minimize the amount of dirt that students track into the school after using the equipment. Athletic gear like balls and other equipment that students share should be wiped down or sprayed.
Wooden surfaces and ground covers should not be cleaned or disinfected. This may cause deterioration of the material, and because of their porous nature, it is ultimately ineffective to clean them.
Indoor recreational equipment, like that used during gym classes, should also be cleaned with an all-purpose cleaner. These items should be cleaned regularly to avoid germ buildup in the storage closets and transmitting across a population of students quickly.
4. Exterior Cleaning
Exterior walls, sidewalks and signs should be cleaned with a power washer. Removing dirt from these surfaces helps maintain the aesthetic appearance of the building and property. By taking care of these locations, you ensure that the school is in pristine shape for the beginning or remainder of the school year.
Ensure that exterior lights still function properly. Outdoor lights are important for ensuring safety while it is dark outside, especially for younger students. Replace bulbs that no longer work as they should. This includes lights that have greatly lost their brightness as well as those that no longer turn on.
5. Interior Lighting
Lighting in each classroom, hallway and office should be checked to ensure that the bulbs still function properly. Replace bulbs that no longer turn on. Consider completing this task while you clean each part of the school – test the lights while you clean and make note of which bulbs you need to bring back to replace.
Remove the cover or shades on light fixtures to clean dust and debris. These particles can dim the light source by preventing light from passing through, so it is important to ensure that they are sufficiently clean. Collected dust also poses an allergen concern, so you prevent health risks by removing these collected particles from the classroom and workspaces.
School Bathroom Cleaning Checklist
School bathrooms get a lot of usage in a day, which means that they need to be cleaned regularly. Germs spread very easily in shared spaces, and that is especially in true in public bathrooms. Students, especially those in a younger age range, may not take the time to thoroughly clean areas with which they come into contact. Therefore, bathrooms hold a high priority on cleaning checklists. Here are eight steps to take regularly in the bathroom to ensure students’ safety at school.
1. Clean All Toilets
The toilets are the most obvious part of the bathroom that requires attention. Clean the toilets thoroughly and be sure to disinfect each part. Toilets are the most commonly touched item in the bathroom, as it is typically the main purpose for which students enter the restroom. Additionally, dirty or unclean toilets may lead students to disregard care they may otherwise take if the toilets were clean.
2. Mop the Floors
Many harmful microorganisms live in moisture, and this includes the floors. Moreover, students may be entering the bathroom after they have been outside, tracking in dirt or mud onto the floors. Dirty water also splashes from the sinks and toilets, which poses yet another threat to its cleanliness. Be sure to maintain the sanitary environment of a bathroom by mopping the floors. The floors should be sanitized thoroughly to kill any germs, bacteria or viruses that collect in the cracks and crevices.
3. Replace Toilet Paper Rolls
A real nightmare in public restrooms is finding out that the toilet paper roll is empty. Be sure to avoid this scenario by refilling each dispenser and supplying the stalls with extra rolls. You avoid potentially disastrous situations by ensuring that people have the resources they need in the bathrooms, so it is imperative not to skip this step. You may opt for multiple holders or keeping an extra roll in the stall.
4. Empty Trash Cans
When trash cans are full, items that should be discarded are more likely to end up on the floor. Whether that happens intentionally or by accident, you can avoid these extra messes by ensuring that there are empty cans available. You may consider keeping extra bags at the bottom of the can for your convenience. Offer more than one can in bathrooms that are used frequently to encourage students to avoid throwing their trash on the floor.
5. Sanitize Surfaces
Common touch points in a bathroom include light switches, toilet flushers, hand dryers, soap dispensers, water taps and door handles. These surfaces quickly collect germs because of how frequently people touch them. Most importantly, some surfaces are touched before individuals wash their hands, which means that they come into contact with all the germs that someone has touched since the last hand washing. These surfaces should be cleaned regularly to ensure the health of the school.
6. Refill Hygiene Dispensers
Some schools have dispensers that hold sanitary pads and tampons for individuals who need them. Be sure that the dispensers are filled with the applicable resources to increase the ease of access for students. Keep track of which products you go through most quickly to ensure that you will be able to continue to restock these products.
7. Clean and Sanitize Sinks and Counters
Sinks collect soap residue and mildew, which creates a dirty-looking bathroom. Soapy water may also splash onto the surrounding counters while students was their hands, so be sure to clean all the water and soap residue from the sink and counters. Sanitize these surfaces thoroughly to ensure that no germs or microorganisms collect there and cause hygiene issues. Clean sinks and counters encourage people to maintain the cleanliness of the bathroom.
8. Refill Soap Dispensers
Soap dispensers also require refilling. Ensure that students continue their best practices by washing their hands regularly. When soap dispensers run out of soap, students are forced to either use a different dispenser or not wash their hands at all. When more students use a single soap dispenser, there are more opportunities for the surface to collect germs that spread quickly.
School Custodial Checklist
Maintaining a clean school is a vital step you must take to decrease the level of risk that high-volume areas pose. As cold and flu season rapidly approaches and we continue to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, keeping spaces clean becomes increasingly important. It remains the responsibility of both teachers and custodial teams alike to maintain a clean, healthy and safe environment for everyone in it. In order to do so, we have compiled a list of tasks that should be completed regularly.
Tasks to Complete Daily
School bathrooms require regular attention due to the frequency and nature of use. Bathrooms located in densely populated or convenient areas will require more regular attention than those that are less accessible or not used as frequently. Every day, the common surfaces should be disinfected. These surfaces include light switches, paper towel dispensers, soap dispensers and stall handles. Toilets should be cleaned and disinfected, including the flush handles and seats. The floors should also be swept and mopped daily. Empty the trash bins every day to avoid overflow.
Classrooms are the most frequently used spaces in a school. As a result, they encounter a large variety of germs and bacteria from regular usage. Each day, the high-touch surfaces should be cleaned. Desks, doorknobs and community resources should regularly be cleaned to avoid large amounts of buildup that can pose health risks to teachers and students.
Tasks to Complete Weekly
Each week, classrooms should be assessed for optimal health conditions. In addition to the regular high-touch areas that should be disinfected daily, there are some areas that only require attention on a weekly basis.
Electronics should be cleaned with wipes each week. Computer boards, handheld tablets and phones require regular cleaning to minimize the transfer of germs and bacteria. If the electronics are assigned to individuals, have students clean their own electronic devices. The cleaning process becomes much easier with wipeable covers that can be placed on top of the touched areas. For example, a keyboard cover on laptops allows for easier cleaning that does not risk any damage to the electronics. Follow the instructions and recommendations for cleaning provided by the manufacturer.
The floors in different parts of the school should be addressed regularly as well, whether it be the classroom, cafeteria or gymnasium. Carpets and rugs collect and retain small particles that will accumulate quickly if not addressed in a timely manner. Hard surfaces on the floors, such as linoleum, will also hold these germs, dust and bacteria that can transfer quickly. High-traffic areas experience more buildup, so clean thoroughly.
Practice smart and healthy cleaning practices by disposing of waste quickly. Cloths and towels used during the cleaning process should not be used for extended periods of time without being washed. When handling dirty or used cloths and linens, be sure to wear gloves and a mask. Dispose of wipes and products that are not reusable or no longer serve the intended purpose.
When emptying trash cans, avoid touching any of the waste products. Tissues, for example, hold large amounts of germs and will easily transfer to your skin when contact is made. Where possible, implement a no-touch waste basket that eliminates the need for interacting with waste products directly. Gloves offer a layer of protection between the skin and pathogens that may cause sickness. After handling substances or items that easily transfer germs, wash your hands thoroughly to ensure your safety.
Call Professionals for the Best Results
Professional cleaners help you ensure that your school is as clean as it can be. Corporate Cleaning & Facility Services offers school cleanings that ensure a safe environment. We offer a Total Building Disinfection, a service using Clorox 360 that eliminates germs. You can eliminate the stress of back to school cleaning and sanitation by allowing us to help you clean the building. We aim to exceed expectations by paying close attention to detail in our communications and cleaning services.
We offer a wide array of services, including tile, grout and carpet cleaning, window cleaning and hard floor care. You can request a free quote on our website to find out more about our services and what we can offer you and your school.