5 Tips and Best Practices for Church Disinfecting Protocols
Church facilities who can show and maintain diligent sanitation practices will better manage an indefinite period of transition to a new normal.
In upcoming weeks and months, our states, cities and local communities will begin lifting stay at home restrictions as non-essential businesses start reopening. Fluid social distancing mandates will affect how we all move forward into society. More than ever, diligent sanitation practices will become a necessity as people begin to gather in higher numbers.
Your church facility will undoubtedly be scrutinized for social distancing and other precautionary measures. Churches who can show transparency in their efforts to provide the safest church environment possible for their staff and congregants, will better manage this indefinite time of transition. With this in mind, now is the time for houses of worship to brush up on their cleaning and disinfecting protocols.
Recognizing the difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitizing.
While these familiar terms seem interchangeable, they entail very different aspects of the overall cleaning regime. Cleaning loosens and removes grime, dirt and germs from surfaces and does not necessarily kill germs, but by reducing them, it lowers the risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting uses EPA registered chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on surfaces after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
Sanitizing uses chemicals that lower the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safer level, generally using FDA approved chemicals that are less toxic.
Worship, Sunday Services & Events
When staffing a facility janitorial crew for high traffic events, creating a game plan is a smart move. Whether churches are small, medium, or large, the most pressing places to disinfect will be restrooms, children’s areas and entrance ways. Cleaning teams need to plan on attacking high impact areas first, and then later, secondary areas can receive attention.
Smart Church Solutions advises best practices to ensure efficient and thorough disinfection of a facility after high influxes of people:
Art of the Application
Wearing proper PPE is the first step in the cleaning and disinfecting process. Next? Choosing your cleaning tools.
Today, microfiber rags are the textile of choice over more traditional materials for cleaning professionals. “Microfiber is a modern material that if you’re not using, then you’re missing out on a readily available product that makes your life easier and your building cleaner,” explains Parr. “The material is very advanced and more affordable than even two years ago. If you buy cheaper microfiber cloths from an off-brand store, they are thin and poor quality. But commercial supply houses sell microfiber cloths that are thicker, and they have a gazillion little fingers that will hold tight to pick up the microscopic bad stuff. With proper care–cleaning them in a high efficiency washer with very little soap and spinning them to almost dry—the quality cloths are good for four to five hundred washings,” says Parr. “Whereas cotton leaves a lot behind that it shouldn’t and creates an environment where things can grow. Lots of people are a fan of cotton rags, because they can bleach them. But then you’re also introducing a caustic chemical that may or may not be a smart choice for your facility.”
OSHA and SDS Planning
Regardless of our current situation, OSHA guidelines should be followed by churches with more than three paid non-ministerial employees. OSHA requires employers to maintain current Safety Data Sheets (SDS) on all chemicals used in the facility, train employees on their use and make SDS books readily available in the work area. Your facilities steward needs to be responsible for learning the best choices in chemical selection and for providing adequate training for staff and volunteers.
Parr was still actively working as a church facility steward when the threat of Ebola emerged during the Fall of 2014. “Our church didn’t have to change anything that we were doing, because as a team we were already cleaning to the standards that is recommended to protect against Ebola. Consistency and training are two of the biggest factors in protecting against infectious diseases. As long as a cleaning crew for a church can say and prove their process, then that’s to me the biggest assurance of safety to staff and the congregation.”