Good clinic hygiene starts with a Covid Safe Clean - Here’s how to achieve it.
When it comes to providing a clean and safe treatment area for your clients, there has never been more focus on sanitisation than there is right now. Post Covid-19, good hygiene is top of mind to both consumers and therapists alike, and there are many ways that you might be dropping the ball without even realising it.
Firstly, and it might seem obvious, but the order in which you clean is very important. You must first start by “cleaning” in its most basic sense. Making sure that the area is tidy and free from dust and surface dirt before commencing with a more thorough clean. Disinfectants and antibacterial products work best on areas that are free of dust, dirt and soiling. Whilst they can of course be used to clean away such dirt, their antimicrobial properties are most effective when the surfaces to be disinfected are already ‘cleaned’ as germs can hide within dirt and dust and remain unaffected by the disinfectant. Basically, the chemicals used to kill viruses and bacteria won’t be as effective if the surface is not already clean.
Airborne bacteria and viruses like coronavirus, can also pass through the air and settle on areas that may not be cleaned regularly such as shelves, windows, doors or storage cabinets. This makes it necessary to clean and disinfect all exposed surfaces in your salon or clinic. It’s not just about quickly wiping down treatment beds between clients, you should also pay attention to other contact points. Door handles, waiting areas, chairs and even point of sale and EFTPOS terminals can become transmission points for bacteria. If you offer reading materials in your waiting area it might be wise to remove them altogether as they will also need to be wiped down with an antibacterial product after each use.
You have to know your cleaning from your sanitising products!
The products you use are very important. Cleaning products can be literally anything that you use to ensure a surface is cleaned of dust and dirt, like a basic spray and wipe. Their primary function is to clean, they may or may not be antibacterial, and unless stated, they will not be able to kill viruses such as coronavirus. Making sure you are using ‘hospital grade’ products to disinfect is imperative as their ingredients go beyond a multi-purpose spray. According to the Australian Department of Health, you should look for products that claim, "antiviral activity", meaning that they can actually kill viruses.
But you see, claiming antiviral activity is actually not the same as claiming to be antibacterial. There really are a lot of confusing claims made by cleaning products in this area. Some products have both antiviral and antibacterial properties, but not all products do. Some general-purpose cleaning products are not even antibacterial so it’s very important you check the ingredients to avoid confusion as to what germ-busting abilities your chosen products possess.
So, what ingredients should you be looking for?
Below are the top three virus killing ingredients. Due to their chemical make-up they cannot co-exist in one product, however, by choosing one of these three as a base ingredient in a cleaner you are ensuring a covid safe clean.
Chlorine Bleach: Bleach is an extremely effective cleaning product when it comes to eliminating deadly viruses and bacteria. This is why it is so widely used in the disinfecting of hospitals, public toilets, swimming pools and other high-risk or high-traffic public facilities. Remember to take extra care when cleaning with bleach as it is a highly dangerous chemical, especially undiluted. It can burn skin, stain fabrics and also cause breathing issues or burn the lungs if inhaled. It’s also very important to note that chemicals should not be mixed, and even “natural” cleaners should never be mixed with chemical cleaners. For example; cleaning a surface using a home-made or natural cleaner such as vinegar, and then going over that same surface with bleach can cause a chemical reaction resulting in a toxic gas!
Ammonia: Dangerous, yet highly effective virus-busting chemical, ammonia is primarily used for disinfecting hard surfaces making it great for floors, glass, mirrors and tiled walls. You should also be very careful not to mix ammonia with other chemicals, especially bleach or anything chlorine based as it produces a toxic chemical reaction.
Alcohol: Another effective disinfectant, alcohol is the primary ingredient in the hand sanitisers we are all now very familiar with. A great alternative to bleach as it doesn’t stain fabrics or pose such a high risk to skin and lungs. Alcohol based disinfectants are also great in spray form especially for soft fabric covered surfaces that cannot be “wiped” over. The percentage of alcohol present in the product directly relates to its level of effectiveness in killing viruses. It is recommended that the alcohol level be at least 70% for a product to be considered an effective virus eliminator. There are also many alcohol-based cleaning wipes available, which are great for a quick clean-up of surfaces, but unless you use the same thorough wiping action as you usually would when using a spray cleaner, it’s very easy to miss areas and clean ineffectively using wipes. Wipes are best kept for areas that cannot be cleaned in a conventional spray-and-wipe way, such as computer keyboards and screens, and phones or EFTPOS keypads.
Now that we are all living in the “new normal” these regulated procedures for protecting yourself and your clients certainly won’t be going anywhere any time soon. Whatever chemicals you chose to use to eliminate dangerous viruses and bacteria within your premises, now is the time to implement lasting practices to maintain a ‘sparkling clean’ reputation for your business.
After four years of extensive consultation with consumers, primary and community healthcare providers and other key stakeholders, The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Healthcare released the Primary and Community Healthcare Standards – the first nationally consistent safety and quality standards.