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Do you know the difference between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting? All three are important when it comes to keeping facility occupants healthy.

How to Conquer Cold and Flu Season Sustainably

Dec. 20, 2022
With the shift in weather comes the inevitable cold and flu season. A sustainable cleaning program fights pathogens while limiting your business’s impact on the environment.

Winter can be an exciting time with the holidays around the corner and the change in seasons in most parts of the country. However, with the shift in weather comes the inevitable cold and flu season.

In recent years, businesses have focused more on cleaning for health in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. That knowledge can be used to enhance your infection prevention practices for the cold and flu season. Consider implementing a sustainable cleaning program to help fight pathogens while limiting your business’s impact on the environment.

Clean, Sanitize, Disinfect!

Cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting each have an important purpose when it comes to helping keep facility occupants healthy. It’s important to know the distinction between each, how to apply each one properly and how often they should be done.

Cleaning consists of tasks like mopping the floors, changing trash bags, dusting tables or emptying old food from an office fridge. These tasks remove germs but don’t always kill them. How often you clean is dependent on multiple factors, such as the type of facility, how many occupants come in and out daily and the size of the facility. However, most cleaning tasks should be done daily to keep spaces from developing odors and filth.

Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces. Due to the lower concentration of chemicals in sanitizer, it is safe to use on the skin and areas that food or cooking appliances touch. People should sanitize their hands after using the restroom, sneezing or coughing, coming into close contact with someone who is sick and before prepping food. Keeping your hands sanitized is an easy and effective solution to reducing the transmission of germs.

Disinfecting is the act of directly killing most germs and bacteria on surfaces to prevent them from spreading. During cold and flu season, disinfecting more often is important to help reduce the spread of illness and infection. It’s especially important to keep disinfectants in a safe place and to not mix disinfectants with other chemicals.

One of the most significant areas in a public facility that requires regular sanitization, cleaning, and disinfecting is the restroom. Specific areas that pose a high risk for bacteria transmission include sinks and soap pumps, which can have up to 229,000 germs per square inch. Other highly touched surfaces such as doorknobs, counters, desks and phones can have viruses like the flu live on them for up to 48 hours. Without these areas being cleaned, sanitized and disinfected regularly, the transmission of illness and infection greatly increases.

Clean With Green

Cleanliness has become a significant factor for people when choosing whether they are likely to return to a facility or not. When surveyed, 43% of employees stated that they are still worried about returning to an in-person work setting because of the risk of exposure to illness and infection.

While cleanliness is becoming more important to people, so is the sustainability of the products being used. Eighty-three percent of employees would like to see more environmentally friendly cleaning products used in the workplace. As businesses and consumers continue to strive towards a greener future, it’s important to implement eco-friendly alternatives when creating a healthy indoor environment. Poor air quality that results from pollutants leads to an increase in upper respiratory infections, impacts those with asthma and can cause sinus pain, headaches, fatigue and difficulty breathing.

Building service contractors (BSCs) should look for high-quality cleaning solutions that won’t add pollution to the air. Choosing green solutions for improved indoor air quality (IAQ) such as fragrance-free and dye-free products is recommended because it can avoid aggravating those who are sensitive to air pollutants.

Invest In Products You Can Trust

When you think of cleaning products, you don’t imagine them causing much harm. However, prolonged usage of dangerous toxins found in regular cleaning products can lead to significant health problems. Many regular cleaning products use a significant amount of chemicals such as sodium hypochlorite, carbolic acid, hydrochloric and phosphoric acid. These and many other toxins can result in breakdown and damage to surfaces over time due to the overpowering chemicals.

Eco-friendly cleaning products aren’t always as easy to spot. Many brands will claim to be green-focused but still include toxic chemicals, which is referred to as greenwashing. To find truly sustainable cleaning products, look for third-party certification labels that state if the products are certified green or eco-friendly.

Promote Healthy Habits

A simple, yet impactful solution to controlling the spread of germs and bacteria is promoting healthy hygiene habits, such as regular handwashing. Eighty percent of illnesses are transferred by touch, making it especially important to increase the amount of handwashing during cold and flu season. Encouraging proper handwashing is equally as important. This includes making sure to always use soap and water and washing your hands for an appropriate amount of time.

Make your customers and employees feel confident in your facility by creating a healthy and sustainable environment. It is important to remove pathogens from the workplace by implementing strategies such as promoting healthy habits, using green cleaning products and understanding the steps of a proper cleaning routine. When you create a space that is clean and healthy, it can leave a positive, lasting impact for all.

About the Author

Carlos Albir Jr.

Carlos Albir Jr. is Director of Operations at ABCO Cleaning Products, a leader in sustainable cleaning tools. ABCO is a family-owned, Certified Minority Business Enterprise with Green Seal-certified products, headquartered in Miami. For more information, visit

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