Disinfecting & Cleaning Australian Schools to Assist with a Safe Rebound

Disinfecting & Cleaning Australian Schools to Assist with a Safe Rebound

Disinfecting & Cleaning Australian Schools to Assist with a Safe Rebound

Posted on the 17th of Apr 2020 by Westlab

There are many measures to take to reduce the spread of flu in schools and universities including staying home when sick, covering coughs and sneezes, and washing hands often. More importantly, as Australia rebounds from the COVID-19 pandemic, it is essential to minimise risk through cleaning and disinfecting your school prior to students coming back. Below are tips to initiate some effective action specifically through cleaning and disinfecting noting that this is part of a broad approach to preventing infectious diseases in schools. 

Do you know the difference between cleaning, disinfecting & sanitising?

Cleaning does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection. Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning works by using soaps, detergents and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. 

Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects. This process normally relies on chemicals to kill germs. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can directly result in the risk reduction of spreading infection.

Sanitising lowers the number of germs on surfaces to a safe level, as judged by your public health standards or requirements. This process can work by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.

Clean & disinfect “High Touch” surfaces & objects first

As COVID-19 continues to spread, people are looking for ways to deep clean and disinfect their schools. While it’s smart to try and minimise the spread of germs, instead of trying to rip in and completely sanitise the school or university, start with high-touch areas.

The idea behind this method of cleaning is that not every germ in the school needs to die. Instead, focus on the areas that are most likely to carry harmful bacteria and viruses. These areas are also the same ones where you’re more likely to pick up the germs.

High-touch areas are the spaces in our schools that we’re constantly touching and often forgetting during day-to-day cleaning.

These areas may include:

  • Doorknobs
  • Light switches
  • Remote controls
  • Faucets and taps
  • Toilets
  • Communal surfaces like tables and benchtops
  • Playgrounds
  • Handrails


Immediately clean surfaces and objects that are visibly soiled. If surfaces or objects are soiled with body fluids or blood, use gloves and other standard precautions to avoid coming into contact with the fluid. Remove the spill, and then clean and disinfect the surface.

Importance of routine cleaning & disinfecting 

One of the most important things to consider when sanitising is to match your cleaning and disinfecting activities to the types of germs you want to remove or kill. Recent studies have shown that the Coronavirus can live on a surface for 3 days and potentially infect a person for up to 72 hours after being deposited on a surface. SafeWork Australia states; Surfaces and fittings should be cleaned more frequently when:

  • visibly soiled
  • used repeatedly by a number of people
  • after any spillage.


Clean and disinfect correctly

Use the following steps to clean an environment:

  • Wear gloves when cleaning. Gloves should be discarded after each clean. If it is necessary to use reusable gloves, gloves should only be used for COVID-19 related cleaning and should not be used for other purposes or shared between workers. Wash reusable gloves with detergent and water after use and leave to dry. Clean hands immediately after removing gloves using soap and water or hand sanitiser.
  • Thoroughly clean surfaces using detergent and water. Always clean from the cleanest surfaces to the dirtiest surfaces. This stops the transfer of germs to cleaner surfaces and allows you to physically remove and dispose of the largest possible amount of germs.
  • If you need to use a disinfectant, clean the surface first using detergent then apply a disinfectant or use a combined detergent and disinfectant (see next section). A disinfectant will not kill germs if the surface has not been cleaned first. Apply disinfectant to surfaces using disposable paper towel or a disposable cloth. If non-disposable cloths are used, ensure they are laundered and dried before reusing.
  • Allow the disinfectant to remain on the surface for the period of time required to kill the virus (contact time) as specified by the manufacturer. If no time is specified, leave for 10 minutes.


Handling disinfectants safely

Paying close attention to hazard warnings and directions on product labels is critical. Cleaning products and disinfectants often call for the use of gloves or eye protection. For example, gloves should always be worn to protect your hands when working with bleach solutions.

Do not mix cleaners and disinfectants unless the labels indicate it is safe to do so. Combining certain products (such as chlorine bleach and ammonia cleaners) can result in serious injury or death.

Ensure that all staff, teachers, and others who use cleaners and disinfectants read and understand all instruction labels and understand safe and appropriate use. 

2020-04-17 15:50:00
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