Clear Up Cleaning Confusion with Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

With the current pandemic, people are beginning to take cleaning seriously, especially as businesses and schools reopen. Given our heightened sense of awareness about the dangers of getting sick in the current environment, you may have some questions about proper cleaning techniques, methods, or products and tools to use.

In this blog post, we will answer questions to some common cleaning questions that apply to cleaning at home, having a clean workspace, and creating clean and safe environments for children, teens, and adolescents at daycare or in school.

Dust or vacuum first?

You should always dust first and vacuum last. Professional cleaners work with a top-down approach, meaning they start at the top of a room and work their way to the bottom.

When you clean, you will inevitably brush some dust, debris, or other particles into the air, which will ultimately settle on the ground. Because of this, vacuuming should come after you finish cleaning everything above floor level.

How often should you vacuum?

This depends on your lifestyle. If you have a dog or cat, live with roommates, or have children, you should vacuum daily. If you live alone, you do not need to vacuum as frequently.

If you only have three people working in your office, you do not need to vacuum as often. However, if there are hundreds of employees at your facility, vacuuming should be performed daily.

Why is vinegar and baking soda recommended for cleaning?

The combination of vinegar and baking soda is a fantastic green cleaning solution to many common issues like grease. This is because vinegar is acidic, which means it has a low pH and an extra proton. Baking soda is basic, which means it has a high pH and is short one proton.

When the two are combined, the extra proton in vinegar is shared with baking soda to fill in the missing proton there, which causes a reaction to occur. The reaction results in carbon dioxide being produced (the fizzing bubbles you see) and leaving behind water. The fizzing helps break down oil and grease buildup and loosen tough stains.

What is the best way to clean up a spill?

If a sponge is not readily available, a slightly damp towel or cloth is usually the way to go. Water is hydrophilic, meaning it easily attracts other liquids, so mopping up a spill with something that is already slightly damp is considerably easier and more efficient than attempting to wipe it with something completely dry.

Can you put dirty cleaning rags in the washing machine?

Yes, just wash them all together in one load separated from any other laundry and use hot water and detergent. If you have been using an oily substance like furniture polish be careful before putting them in the dryer as it can become a fire hazard.

Is it better to use a dishwasher or wash by hand?

A dishwasher is always best to use as it uses extremely hot water, which helps dissolve stuck-on grease and food particles and has a sanitization effect. When a dishwasher is not available, washing by hand is acceptable when using hot water and disinfecting dish soap.

What is the best way to clean bloodstains?

Pour hydrogen peroxide on the stained fabric and rub it together vigorously. Rinse with cold water and repeat. Never use hot water as it causes the stain to set into the fabric. Hydrogen peroxide works because it is an oxidizer, which reacts with an enzyme in our blood (known as catalase) and causes it to break down.

What is the difference between cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting?

Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) alongside water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection. For example, washing your kitchen counter down with a soapy washcloth would be considered cleaning. You will likely see crumbs or bits of debris on the cloth when finished.

Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This is done by either cleaning or disinfecting something to lower the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects by using chemicals. Disinfecting does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces, but by killing the germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection. For example, using an EPA approved disinfectant such as like Clorox Disinfecting Wipes to wipe down a toilet seat is considered disinfecting. You would not see any residue on the wipe afterwards, but the chemicals in the disinfectant have done their job.

Should I use a sponge, a dishcloth, or a scrub brush?

A scrub brush is typically the best choice. Sponges hold onto bacteria and can be difficult to clean, especially in an office setting where multiple people may be using it. Dishcloths need to be washed after every use, which is a bit of a hassle and can be impractical in a breakroom or office kitchen if the office does not have a laundry room or laundry service.

Scrub brushes are easy to clean, versatile, and good at getting tough food stains off dishes. It is good to have a sponge on hand for quick cleans or dishes and glasses that scratch easily, but for the most part scrub brushes are the way to go.

How to you clean leather?

A clean cloth dipped in a 50/50 solution of vinegar and water can be used to clean leather. Make sure to fully dry the area.

What is the best way to clean toys?

Whether it is in your home, daycare, or office waiting room, toys are a magnet for germs. There are different protocols for cleaning toys depending on the material and type of toy.

Plastic toys can be cleaned easily by using a scrub brush and hot, soapy water to remove visible dirt and debris.

To properly disinfect plastic toys, soak them in a plastic bucket containing a mixture of water and a non-toxic disinfectant, then rinse the toys in clean water and allow them to air dry.

Toys that are made of wood are porous and therefore should not be submerged or soaked in any type of liquid. Instead, wipe the toy with a cloth soaked in hot, soapy water to remove dirt.

For hard-to-reach areas or places where the dirt is stuck on, a clean toothbrush or scrub brush can be used.

The toys should be allowed to dry completely, then wiped with a fresh cloth soaked in a non-toxic disinfectant. Allow the disinfectant to remain on the toy for the amount of time indicated on the bottle and follow the directions – most disinfectants work best when applied and allowed to air dry without wiping.

This process can also be used for battery-operated or electronic toys; just remember to remove the batteries first.

Toys that are made of fabric can usually be cleaned in the washing machine with hot water and dried in the dryer if appropriate. For any toy, it is important to spot test the disinfectant beforehand, in case it causes discoloration.

What is the best way to take care of heavily used floors?

In corporate settings, floors can take quite a beating from constant foot traffic. If a floor is in a high traffic area, a process known as stripping and waxing is recommended. We have an entire blog post about floor care for offices and facilities, which you can find here.

How to you clean a keyboard?

Keyboards can carry a lot of bacteria, especially in offices when you may have multiple people touching the same keyboard like in a conference room.

To properly clean the keyboard, shut the computer down first. The best way to clean and disinfect a keyboard is by using compressed air to blow out dust and debris, then wiping it with disinfecting wipes.

NOTE: Do not use this method with the newer (2017 or later) versions of MacBook Pro laptops as the motherboard is attached directly to the keyboard and any contact with liquid can harm the computer.

A clean makeup brush can be used to brush away dirt and a pointed cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol can be used to disinfect the surface of keys and in between them.

If you feel overwhelmed by putting together a comprehensive cleaning plan for your facility, then schedule a free consultation and walkthrough by filling out our contact form.