COVID-19 has put a whole new emphasis on the importance of regular DIY cleaning for staff members in all kinds of facilities. More than two years since the virus first began taking over, people still find themselves facing restrictions, regulations, and limitations that stop them from living life to the fullest.
This only goes to show how strong the infectious power of the Corona Virus is, and how essential it is that we all take responsibility for keeping our places of work clean and safe for all those around us.
Here is a guide to DIY Covid-19 cleaning for retail outlets during COVID-19, featuring official advice and tips for maximum efficiency. Every retail space is different and may have other specific cleaning requirements, so please use this information as a base to build on when tackling the facilities in your own retail outlet.
Why Is It Essential to Properly Clean and Disinfect Retail Outlets During COVID-19?
Keeping any workplace or public area clean is always recommended for the general well-being of everyone involved. COVID-19 has only amplified those needs. Taking responsibility to keep your retail outlet clean and disinfected is essential in the fight against the ever-spreading virus.
Without proper cleaning and disinfecting, harmful bacteria can spread like wildfire without limitations. In somewhere like a busy retail outlet that can see hundreds (or more) of people in a day, it is all the more important.
Cross-contamination of unchecked germs is one of the main ways that any virus spreads, especially in commercial zones such as retail outlets. Daily DIY cleaning is one of the best ways to limit this risk.
What Is the Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfecting?
The cleaning process breaks down dirt and grime, removing physical germs and mess. It requires hot water and a detergent solution such as soap, washing liquid, floor cleaner, or a range of other products.
Disinfection is about killing bacteria that stay on the surface even after it is clean. To properly disinfect a surface, you need to use chemicals that meet the government standards for commercial COVID-19 cleaning.
10 Steps to DIY Retail Outlet COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfecting
Before starting your DIY cleaning routine, you should prepare yourself with the correct clothing and protective gear. It is recommended that people wear gloves and a mask before using any cleaning chemicals. In some cases, when you are using stronger solutions, protective eye gear is also a good idea.
Start by wiping down all surfaces with detergent and hot water, starting with the cleanest ones and gradually working towards the dirtiest. It is essential to clean the grime and dirt from surfaces before disinfecting to maximize the efficiency of the chemicals.
Ensure the surfaces are as dry as possible before moving on, especially floors. Busy retail outlets cannot afford to leave wet floors and counters while customers are around.
Go over the surfaces once more, but this time using a disinfectant. Now that the dirt is gone, it should be able to take hold far more effectively. It is best to use a solution that meets the government standards for disinfectants in commercial properties.
Using a damp cloth and detergent (not oversaturated), wipe all of the items that people touch. Some good examples include handrails, phones, handles, shopping trolleys, baskets, and dispensers.
Dry and disinfect each of these items using a lower-grade disinfectant than you used on the floors and surfaces.
Take a disinfectant wipe to all registers, both staffed and un-staffed. Do this as regularly as possible, relative to the volume of clients in the store.
Make sure there are hand sanitisers in all the relevant areas. Replace any that are empty. The same applies to wipes if you provide these to customers.
Double-check that all signage relating to COVID-19 regulations and safety procedures is visible at all the most important touchpoints.
Soak the cloths used in a fresh detergent and disinfectant solution mix, then put them somewhere to dry. Doing this helps keep your cleaning equipment in good condition and ensures no lingering bacteria are clinging to the material.
How Often Should a Retail Outlet be Cleaned during COVID-19?
At the very least, retail outlets should be cleaned daily during COVID-19. Any areas that have a lot of traffic through them and all surfaces that multiple people are likely to touch should be disinfected even more regularly if possible.
If you are DIY cleaning a retail outlet, you should prioritise certain areas above others to ensure those most at risk of contamination get the most attention. Floors, for example, do not need to be cleaned more than once per day in a retail outlet, but a service desk should receive regular attention whenever possible.
Here are some areas that should have priority in your DIY retail cleaning routine and an idea of how often you should disinfect them.
- Staffed checkout registers: Every staff member who uses the register should disinfect it and the area around it before they leave. When the next person starts their shift, they may also want to give it a brief wipe down.
- Self-checkout screens: If your store has touch screen self-checkouts, they should be a high priority. Perhaps consider leaving disinfectant wipes beside the screen for customers to clean the screen before and after use.
- Changing rooms and bathrooms: These shared facilities should be fully cleaned at disinfected at least once per shift (at the end of each day as a bare minimum). If your staff swap over in the afternoon or for the night shift, they need attention at the end of the first shift prior to the next rotation.
- Tables, countertops, and service desks: Any surface that comes into regular contact with multiple people should receive priority attention. Staff should disinfect as often as possible between busy spells.
Cleaning Equipment: What to Use and What to Avoid
You do not need specialist equipment to efficiently clean and disinfect a retail outlet by yourself. As long as you wear protective hand, mouth, and eye coverings, you can clean using everyday housekeeping items.
There are, however, some things you should not use:
- Pressured water or air (including canned aerosols and disinfectants): This type of cleaning is likely to disperse the virus rather than kill it. Ideally, you want to avoid anything that could blow the bacteria into the air as it leads to a higher chance of infection.
- Dry cloths: Wiping surfaces with a dry cloth is also likely to disturb and disperse the virus, and it doesn’t tackle bacteria. You should only use a dry cloth to wipe down a surface after it has been thoroughly disinfected and cleaned.
- Dusters: Again, dusters move dirt around- they do not clean it. Never dust the shelves or skirting in a retail space until after the disinfection process is complete.
- Disinfectant fogging: Contrary to popular belief, this is not a recommended solution for COVID-19. It is essentially a fumigation procedure, but it does not target germs that may be clinging to a surface. Fogging is particularly inconvenient in a retail outlet as it involves using potentially harmful chemicals that customers should not be exposed to.
The best solution is the most simple one- warm water, a damp cloth, and a strong disinfecting detergent solution.
DIY Disinfecting Solution
It is always best to use a professional disinfectant solution as they are specially designed to kill harmful bacteria such as the COVID-19 virus, but it is not always possible. If you are ever caught short on products or the shops do not have some in stock, you can make your own.
Bleach and water is the best solution. Other items that are often used in DIY cleaning products such as vinegar and baking soda are not suitable in this case as they do not kill the COVID-19 virus.
Dilute as follows for high-level disinfection. Please bear in mind that this is not recommended for most retail areas: one part bleach, 10 parts water.
In retail outlets, you only require mid-level disinfection for daily cleaning, which should be mixed as follows: one part bleach, 50 parts water.
A low-level disinfectant solution is suitable for COVID-19 retail outlet cleaning in certain areas with a minimal contamination risk. The balance should be one part bleach, 80 parts water-
What Extra Precautions Should Staff Take?
- Have hand sanitiser readily available for staff and customer use. Consider having someone stationed at checkout areas and entrances to ensure people use them. Disinfectant wipes provided on arrival are also a smart precaution.
- Managers can try to arrange their staff’s working patterns and daily routines to limit cross-contamination. At the checkouts, for example, it is wise to keep one person there for as long as possible without anybody else stepping in.
- Social distancing with customers and other staff members is essential, as are protective items such as masks and gloves, depending on the type of retail outlet they work in.
- Staff should limit unnecessary contact with surfaces. Make it a policy not to touch anything without cause.
Anybody who works in a retail outlet and is responsible for DIY cleaning should appreciate the importance of their tasks. Everyone should take responsibility for keeping their workplace clean and safe for their own sake and that of everyone around them.
Simple cleaning solutions are enough when combined with personal precautions. DIY cleaning in retail outlets during COVID-19 is essential to containing the virus and limiting its reach.