Technical Cleaning and Coronavirus

Posted on: April 9, 2020

Technical Cleaning and Coronavirus

Our Director of Safety, Environment and Quality at GDI Services (Canada) LP, Rennie Kissoonsingh, was asked to provide his expertise as a presenter in the BOMA Canada Webinar discussing the coronavirus, cleaning and property management.

Since such great knowledge was shared, we thought we would give a quick recap of some of the key points Rennie brought up in the write-up below. If you want to read up on all of this helpful information, visit

To start off his portion of the webinar, Rennie first explains that COVID-19 is an infectious disease caused by a new coronavirus and that it is an enveloped virus. This “envelope” helps the virus survive and infect other cells. He noted that unlike bacteria, viruses cannot replicate outside of a human host as it uses the host cells of humans to replicate.

On a spectrum of least to most resistant to disinfectants, Rennie puts enveloped viruses like the coronavirus on the least resistant side of the spectrum along with other viruses such as influenza and HIV. On the other end of the spectrum are bacteria and non-enveloped viruses like norovirus.

Rennie highlights that while the coronavirus is killed easily by disinfectants, the surface must first be clean (free of debris) for the disinfectant to work effectively.

In the BOMA Canada webinar, Rennie refers to a study on the coronavirus published in the Journal of Hospital Infection titled “Persistence of Coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces and their inactivation with biocidal agents”. The study says that coronavirus can persist on surfaces like metal, glass and plastic for up to nine days, however they can be inactivated by surface disinfection procedures within one minute. Rennie points out that these disinfection procedures are only effective if the product has at least either 62-71% ethanol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide, or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite.

One of his recommendations when it comes to cleaning facilities during this pandemic is ramping up the frequency of touch-point cleaning, as this is one of the modes of community transmission. He encourages hiring more cleaning staff if you can, because once disinfected, surfaces can be contaminated again, which means touch-point cleaning needs to be continuous and needs adequate staff to handle that frequency. If you can’t hire additional custodians, it is helpful to have the existing team focus on allocating resources towards touch-point cleaning by reducing periodic items such as detailed floor stripping, waxing or polishing.

When talking about deep cleaning/disinfection after a known or suspected case of coronavirus, Rennie says having a plan ready ahead of time is key. He explains that after you have isolated the affected person, a “hot zone” can be defined and that its good practice to clean from the least contaminated area to the most contaminated area (the defined “hot zone”).

Rennie also clarifies that to prevent cross-contamination and to preserve staff safety, decontamination procedures should be done when the area is empty. He says the high priority zones for decontaminations are the affected zone touch point areas, common areas, washrooms, kitchens, appliances, conference rooms and workstations. Things like fabric chairs, drapery, alternative floors, wall and ceilings are lower on the priority list at this time. Following this, a pre-walk evaluation should be done to identify touch-points and cleanable areas which should be subsequently cleaned.

After cleaning, these areas should be treated with disinfectant. One method includes using electrostatic sprayers that can coat the surface for a specific duration of time. Rennie notes that items such as paper and other sensitive items cannot be sanitized and when possible, should be removed prior to the cleaners’ arrival. He adds that leaving markers showing what areas were sanitized will help both the supervisor and clients know what has and has not been done to ensure proper communication.

After decontamination, Rennie says all staff should follow proper PPE removal procedures, hand hygiene steps, and should flush all exposed areas with soap and water.

If you have questions or would like more information on how the GDI can help you and your facility, please email

*The webinar does not claim to supersede any information provided by doctors or health professionals.