Cleaning for Health

Protect Yourself from Icky Worker Habits

Did you know that more than 80% of illnesses can be transmitted by the hands? [1] Did you also know that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends hand hygiene as one of the most important steps to avoid getting sick and spreading germs to others? [2] Yet, is hand hygiene one of the measures you take to stay healthy?

Find out what people are doing about it, below.Earlier this year, GOJO Industries, the makers of Purell Advanced Hand Sanitizer, took a closer look at the most recent cold and flu season and found some interesting, icky and fun facts in a survey that was commissioned with Wakefield Research. One thousand adults across the United States were asked a variety of questions about hand hygiene and this past cold and flu season, and some of the answers really stood out. [3]

  • Did you know that 69% of working Americans don’t take sick days because they don’t want to miss a day of work, even if they are actually sick?
  • Did you know that 59% of working Americans frequently cover up their cold and flu symptoms while at work?
  • Did you know that 57% of Americans engage in “icky” habits, which include not washing their hands after sneezing or using the restroom?
  • Did you know that 60% of those surveyed have witnessed a coworker sneezing without a tissue?
  • Did you know that out of those who haven’t gotten sick this season, the majority of them, nearly 67%, say that hand hygiene is the reason why?


While these facts may tell a lot about human behavior, especially during cold and flu season, one item that stands out is the important role hand hygiene plays in preventing the spread of illness-causing germs and reducing the risk of illness, anytime of the year, not just during cold and flu season.

In order to reduce the spread of those illness-causing germs, it is important to remember to practice hand hygiene at key moments, which include:

  • Before and after preparing food
  • Before eating
  • After using the bathroom
  • After sneezing or coughing
  • After touching anything that is in a high-traffic area that may have been touched by many different hands, such as a door handle, gas pump handle and a restroom doorknob

This infographic details the survey results—all the fun, and maybe even some icky, details.

[1]2013 Meta-analysis of germ transmission data by Dr. Gerba, University of Arizona.
[2]Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).Handwashing: Clean Hands Save
Lives. December 11, 2013.
[3]Wakefield Research conducted a survey between January 22nd and February 2nd, 2015,
among 1,000 U.S. nationally representative adults aged18 and older. The margin of
error at the 95 percent confidence level is +/- 3.1 percentage points. Survey
sponsored by the makers of Purell Hand Sanitizer.

Ebola Disinfection and Prevention Information

Information, in part, from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control)

[To disinfect for Ebola virus] Use a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered hospital disinfectant with a label claim for a non-enveloped virus (e.g., norovirus, rotavirus, adenovirus, poliovirus) to disinfect environmental surfaces in rooms of patients with suspected or confirmed Ebola virus infection. Although there are no products with specific label claims against the Ebola virus, enveloped viruses such as Ebola are susceptible to a broad range of hospital disinfectants used to disinfect hard, non-porous surfaces.

In contrast, non-enveloped viruses are more resistant to disinfectants. As a precaution, selection of a disinfectant product with a higher potency than what is normally required for an enveloped virus is being recommended at this time. EPA-registered hospital disinfectants with label claims against non-enveloped viruses (e.g., norovirus, rotavirus, adenovirus, poliovirus) are broadly antiviral and capable of inactivating both enveloped and non-enveloped viruses.

"EPA-registered hospital disinfectants with label claims against non-enveloped viruses (e.g., norovirus, rotavirus, adenovirus, poliovirus) are broadly antiviral and capable of inactivating both enveloped and non-enveloped viruses."


For 24-Hour, residual effectiveness, EPA-registered against norovirus, rotavirus, polio Type2:

  • Envirox Critical Care spray-on, ready-to-use disinfectant (stocking in quarts)
    Even if not a current customer, you may order from PUR-O-ZONE with a credit card at 800-727-7876. #139-06Q,
    $7.98/quart plus shipping, special internet pricing. 

This product is also low-toxicity, low-irritant, not a sensitizer, non-hazardous class disinfectant.



The following Hillyard products from PUR-O-ZONE have the appropriate non-enveloped virus kill claims:

The following Clorox products are labeled for some or all of the CDC recommended viruses (norovirus, poliovirus, rotavirus, adenovirus):


Clorox Healthcare Bleach Germicidal Wipes 6/70ct


Clorox Healthcare Bleach Germicidal Wipes 2/110ct 


Clorox Healthcare Bleach Germicidal Wipes Refill 2/110ct 


Clorox Healthcare Bleach Germicidal Wipes 6/150ct

Clorox HealthCare Line Efficacy Information

(Look for CDC recommended effectiveness against Norovirus, Rotavirus, Poliovirus, which the Clorox products above have, along with some really short dwell times.*) 

*Dwell times are the periods a cleaned surface must remain wet with the disinfectant product before wiping to do the job the EPA has approved it for. See below.


The dwell or wet time of a disinfectant is, in simplest terms, the time the product was EPA-approved to disinfect a particular organism within. It is a minimum time. Some products have multiple EPA-registered dwell times for multiple microorganisms. To disinfect, the product must remain in contact with the surface, in wet (not evaporated) condition for the dwell or wet time prescribed on the label.

While many disinfectants clean and disinfect, because microbes can be protected by soils on surfaces, it is recommended as a best practice to clean the surface first. Materials used to clean may require special procedures or disposal methods depending on the procedure. Most of these procedures affect hospitals, but what works well for them can often help keep infections at bay in other environments.


Danger Body Fluids Reminder Sign

Use Disinfectants More Effectively Behavior Modification Sign

Don't Panic in a Pandemic 10-Step Sign 

Cover Your Cough or Sneeze

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How can I determine whether a particular EPA-registered hospital disinfectant is appropriate for use in the room of a patient with suspected or confirmed Ebola virus infection?

Begin by looking at the product label or product insert or, if these are not available, search the EPA search engine for this information. Users should be aware that an 'enveloped' or 'non-enveloped virus' designation may not be included on the container label. Instead check the disinfectant's label for at least one of the common non-enveloped viruses (e.g., norovirus, rotavirus, adenovirus, poliovirus).

For HealthCare

These instructions relate to health settings where Ebola has been diagnosed. Reading them, however, gives insight in other environments as to best preventive practices.

2. Are there special instructions for cleaning and disinfecting the room of a patient with suspected or confirmed Ebola virus infection?

Daily cleaning and disinfection of hard, non-porous surfaces (e.g., high-touch surfaces such as bed rails and over bed tables, housekeeping surfaces such as floors and counters) should be done.4 Before disinfecting a surface, cleaning should be performed. In contrast to disinfection where products with specific claims are used, any cleaning product can be used for cleaning tasks. Use cleaning and disinfecting products according to label instructions. Check the disinfectant's label for specific instructions for inactivation of any of the non-enveloped viruses (e.g., norovirus, rotavirus, adenovirus, poliovirus) follow label instructions for use of the product that are specific for inactivation of that virus. Use disposable cleaning cloths, mop cloths, and wipes and dispose of these in leak-proof bags. Use a rigid waste receptacle designed to support the bag to help minimize contamination of the bag's exterior.

3. How should spills of blood or other body substances be managed?

The basic principles for blood or body substance spill management are outlined in the United States Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) Bloodborne Pathogen Standards (29 CFR 1910.1030).5 CDC guidelines recommend removal of bulk spill matter, cleaning the site, and then disinfecting the site.4 For large spills, a chemical disinfectant with sufficient potency is needed to overcome the tendency of proteins in blood and other body substances to neutralize the disinfectant's active ingredient. An EPA-registered hospital disinfectant with label claims for non-enveloped viruses (e.g., norovirus, rotavirus, adenovirus, poliovirus) and instructions for cleaning and decontaminating surfaces or objects soiled with blood or body fluids should be used according to those instructions.

4. How should disposable materials (e.g., any single-use PPE, cleaning cloths, wipes, single-use microfiber cloths, linens, food service) and linens, privacy curtains, and other textiles be managed after their use in the patient room?

These materials should be placed in leak-proof containment and discarded appropriately. To minimize contamination of the exterior of the waste bag, place this bag in a rigid waste receptacle designed for this use. Incineration or autoclaving as a waste treatment process is effective in eliminating viral infectivity and provides waste minimization. If disposal requires transport offsite then this should be done in accordance with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) Hazardous Materials Regulations (HMR, 49 C.F.R., Parts 171-180).67 Guidance from DOT has been released for Ebola.7

What Gets Touched More Often than Objects on Your Desk? Keyboard Cleaning 101.

You may have heard of Dr. Charles Gerba with Arizona University who has compared relative germ levels on a long list of surfaces both in the workplace and the home. He is quoted in articles carried widely, including on the BBC, where a portion of the background material for this article originated.

"Desks are really 'bacteria cafeterias'," according to Dr. Charles Gerba, also known as "Dr, Germ," a microbiologist who has studied a wide range of surfaces and how they collect, retain and re-distribute germs.

Among many other findings, Gerba's research has shown that office workers are exposed to more germs from their phones and keyboards than from toilet seats.

Work stations, in fact, contain nearly 400 times as many microbes as the toilet seats we come in contact with, according to Gerba's findings.

Office equipment and desktops themselves should be regularly disinfected to prevent the spread of viruses and bacteria responsible for disease. The key offenders are telephones, which harbor up to 25,127 germs per square inch, keyboards 3,295 germs per sq. in. and computer mice 1,676 germs per sq. in.


1. Unplug your keyboard from your computer and remove any batteries. Turn laptops off.

2. Flip upside down and shake carefully to dislodge any particles that will drop out. 

3. Use a compressed-gas electronics duster following label instructions to blast away dust and particles. Don't be surprised that a lot of material stays in place, because hands deposit a lot of oil on surfaces. Those oils help "glue" down a lot of grime as well as forming a great environment for biofilm to eventually build up. Biofilms are areas where germs begin to anchor themselves, then link together in communities, forming a "plaque" that is harder to remove as time goes on. The plaque can actually help protect the germs from disinfectants.

cleaning keyboard with cotton-tipped swab

4. Apply a mild surface cleaner such as PUR-O-ZONE Crystal, (CRYSTAL-QT), to a microfiber cloth until damp, not dripping. Clean all surfaces using gentle pressure. 

5. Work in difficult to reach spots with a cotton-tipped swab.

6. Use a fresh microfiber cloth to polish and dry thoroughly before disinfection.


1. Utilize a disinfecting wipe product such as Clorox Healthcare Wipes or Medaphene Scrubs. If you have specific health threats you are responding to, you may need to compare that microorganism against the wiper "efficacy" list. In some cases, such as with clostridium difficile it is also important to know whether the product handles the vegitative or the endospore state.

On the other hand, many illnesses are not common enough to have products tested against them. If your product kills similar microorganisms, or members from the same family, it may have effectiveness. If it is critical, you need to find a product with the specific kill claim you seek, if it is available. If not, there may be a liquid form available that you can apply to a microfiber cloth.

In cases of pandemic or epidemic, the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) or WHO (World Health Organization) may post on their sites advisories as to disinfectant types they believe are likely to kill or reduce a specific threat population. 

2. Put on appropriate PPE such as gloves (Hospeco large, #GL-N106FL). If doing this for the first time, read label instructions and assess risks to determine your written protocol for this process, including if additional PPE is required. 

2. Remove a single wipe, wringing any excess liquid. When the wiper is damp, not dripping, wipe all surfaces, including sides of keys. Consult the labeled "dwell time" and leave the surfaces damp for at least that many seconds or minutes.

3. Set keyboard aside until thoroughly dry. Do not attach to your computer or replace batteries, or turn on your laptop, until you are sure any moisture that may have gone to the circuit board level has dried completely.

Taking time to clean phones, keyboards and mice can have more of an effect on health than many cleaning procedures. Focusing on touchpoints (or fomites, as they are known in the healthcare industry) in your cleaning regimen can improve health, reduce the spread of illness and make building occupants and visitors feel better about their working environment.

Note: As with any cleaning or disinfecting protocol, before jumping in with both feet, test the product in a limited area and process to see that there are no long-term problems. There are so many varying compositions of materials used in keyboard production that limited testing is always advised before starting a new procedure. 


Cleaning screens and touchscreens (where you might want to disinfect) is a different animal. Here are some general guidelines provided by Lifehacker.

To Improve Student or Employee Health, Modify Behavior

Your janitorial or facility maintenance department can have an impact on keeping students in school and employees at work, and free of illness. Seem unlikely? It is not, according to a growing body of studies showing how important a clean and low-contamination environment with cleaner air is to student and employee attendance and productivity.

Pertussis Spread by Coughs & Sneezes as Well as from Touchpoints

Pertussis causes a serious coughing illness.

Pertussis is a highly contagious infection of the lungs spread by droplet transmission from aerosols created by coughing and sneezing. Also known as whooping cough, schools are reporting confirmed cases of pertussis.


Pottawatomie County Experiencing Whooping Cough

The Canadian Public Health Agency provides these excellent notes on controlling transmission via drugs and disinfectants:

SUSCEPTIBILITY/RESISTANCE, DRUGS: Susceptible to erythromycin, macrolides such as azithromycin and clarithromycin, trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, floroquinoles such as ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, and gemifloxacin.

DRUG RESISTANCE: Erythromycin resistant strains have been reported since 1994, but the resistance does not seem to be spreading.

SUSCEPTIBILITY/RESISTANCE TO DISINFECTANTS: B. pertussis has been shown to be sensitive to glutaraldehyde. In addition most vegetative bacteria are susceptible to low concentrations of chlorine (<1ppm), 70% ethanol, phenolics such as orthophenylphenol and ortho-benzyl-paua-chlorophenol, and peracetic acid (0.001% to 0.2%).

PHYSICAL INACTIVATION:Information specific to B. pertussis is not available; however, most vegetative bacteria can be inactivated by moist heat (121°C for 15 min- 30 min) and dry heat (160-170°C for 1-2 hours).

SURVIVAL OUTSIDE HOST:Survives for 3-5 days on inanimate dry surfaces.

B. pertussis can also survive 5 days on clothes, 2 days on paper and 6 days on glass.

Cleaning Best Practices

Because B. pertussis, the bacteria that causes whooping cough, is spread by droplets and lives for long periods on inanimate surfaces, paper, clothes and other objects, containment should include a program of treatment for touch points (fomites) with a product of proven efficacy such as Dispatch/Clorox Professional Healthcare Germicidal Cleaners.

Product protocols and efficacy sheet

Ebola, MERS and other Emerging Illnesses Remind Facility Maintenance to Be Prepared

Like earthquakes, the next pandemic is not a matter of if, but when. The difference is, earthquakes don't affect everyone, and global pandemics do.

Is Pandemic Planning a Serious Issue for Your Business?

Does your business or institution have a current pandemic plan? Custodians can have a central role in reducing the effects of a long-term struggle with an emerging pathogen. It takes planning and care whether you are fighting the next superbug, or the annual influenza strain.

Plan ahead for keeping your doors open and your building occupants safer. 

Download Pandemic Planning eBook

Download Don't Panic Sign

The Costs of Influenza and The Role of Custodians in Cleaning For Health

Specific Solutions to Cross-Contamination Issues


MERS, Pandemics and the Role of Cleaning

For the past decade, warnings about the inevitability of the next global pandemic have been in the news. The concern is for that superbug that rapidly spreads around the world as such infections have many times in the past.

Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) is one of those types of possible pandemic infections that reached the United States and was confirmed earlier this month. There have been two cases, confirmed on the 2nd and the 11th, both involving travelers from Saudi Arabia.

According to the CDC, MERS is a coronavirus. Most people who have been confirmed to have MERS-CoV infection developed severe acute respiratory illness. They had fever, cough, and shortness of breath. About 30% of these people died. MERS-CoV has been shown to spread between people who are in close contact. Transmission from infected patients to healthcare personnel has also been observed. Clusters of cases in several countries are being investigated.

Regardless of the pandemic threat level at any given time, the spread of illness is an important issue in cleaning.

Reducing the common cold, seasonal influenza and MRSA may be more common local concerns. Because as cleaners we have the ability (and the responsibility) to break cross-contamination cycles, custodians and other cleaning technicians are front-line defenders of health. Planning for pandemics has been an important topic promoted in PUR-O-ZONE seminars and on this website since 2007. 

Wrong Assumption

One myth in responding to pandemics with planning is that businesses and schools will simply close down until the threat passes. The dangerous associated thought is that little planning or stocking of essential products is necessary. However this line of thinking is based on the premise that the danger will pass in a relatively short period of time. The fact is that the threat will probably affect any given area in waves, but during a specific period will be an on-going threat for many weeks to months to years, depending on the infection itself and the scientific community's ability to get that outbreak under control.

Schools and businesses will not be able to shut down and wait it out. The period will likely be too long for that solution. There may be periods of closures during peak periods. 

So the importance of cleaning for health, breaking cross-contamination cycles, personal protective equipment and procedures, effective understanding of disinfection principles, and written plans for facilitating all of the above, are important to consider now, while the immediate threat is low. Many companies have documented pandemic plans, and yours should include the changes your cleaning staff will make to respond to threats. 

Download: Cleaning the Unseen

EPA Links Student Performance to Indoor Air Quality & Health

Student Health and Academic Performance Quick Guide

"School boards and administrators often consider the maintenance budget as soft money that they can cut without affecting core academic program needs; however, scientific literature demonstrates otherwise." - EPA

Health, attendance and academic performance can improve with increased maintenance. Schools with better physical conditions show improved adademic performance, while schools with fewer janitorial staff and higher maintenance backlogs show poorer academic performance.

"Each year since our IAQ management program began, we have been able to boost both reading and math test scores and have created exceptional learning environments that promote student success." - Dave Hill, Blue Valley School District, Kansas

Blue Valley School District is a customer/partner with PUR-O-ZONE and is ranked in various reports and publications as one of the top public school districts in the United States.

EPA Excellence in IAQ Report (Leading with Blue Valley School District)

Starting an IAQ and Cleaning for Health program begins with planning and documentation. PUR-O-ZONE can assist you in Kansas and western Missouri with methods that are appropriate for your particular building(s). Just start here.

FAQ: The MERS Viral Respiratory Illness

You may have heard concern about a disease that has been identified on the Arabian Peninsula and has spread to several European countries. Related to SARS, but with a far worse mortality rate, MERS, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, has infected 77 in eight countries with 42 deaths, or a mortality rate of 55%. SARS caused worldwide concern in 2003 with a mortality rate of 9.6%.

Cleaning Paramount as Latest Pandemic Threat Emerges

Before they enter the body, many pathogens – germs that are harmful to humans – are relatively easy to eliminate or control on surfaces. So many are in fact, that the role of modern cleaning and cleaning chemistry is absolutely critical to the cost-effective management of disease. The interruption of the infection process through control of objects they pass onto and from is known as breaking the "cross-contamination cycle."