14 January 2021
Until recently, the words cleaning and sanitising were only used occasionally in conversation outside the commercial cleaning industry. Now, with Covid-19 in full swing, they are on everyone’s lips daily. Nearly a year into the pandemic, we look back at the past few months, examining how our industry has changed and adapted to this new reality. In other words, how has the commercial cleaning industry responded to Covid-19?
We set ourselves the challenge of looking at our industry and our own practices to determine how we have collectively responded to the Covid-19 challenge. Are there things we could be doing differently or more effectively for our clients? How can we better serve them, to help companies remain open and in business?
When Covid-19 first started spreading more widely and lockdowns and restrictions were put in place, uncertainty reigned. Businesses closed, some permanently, and staff were furloughed or laid off. Cleaning became a greater need while demand dropped as businesses shut their doors and staff worked from home.
Initially, the spotlight focused on the health care sector. However, with stringent measures already in place for cleaning and disinfection, that focus shifted to all other sectors. Attention turned to everything that we touched. We became aware of how much and how often our hands came into contact with surfaces and then our faces.
It quickly became apparent that washing our hands or using sanitiser are effective for protecting ourselves. But what of all the surfaces that a potentially infected person comes into contact with?
Clients have premises or vehicle fleets that need cleaning and disinfection quickly to keep their business moving. The drop in demand from the retail, leisure and transport sectors has been offset by a rise in demand from schools, hospitals and commercial vehicles.
The commercial cleaning industry also had to contend with a fall in staff availability. Illness and quarantining affected staff levels. The chain effect of business closures meant cleaning companies had to furlough staff.
Advice from government and global agencies was scant when it came to commercial cleaning techniques and processes. In the absence of guidance, the industry mobilised quickly to meet clients’ needs.
Those needs changed on a daily basis as clients struggled to determine what was required, when and how. New products came on to the market, promising to neutralise the Covid-19 threat lingering in the air and on surfaces.
Some commercial cleaning companies have posted information on their Covid-19 procedures on their websites. Of those, some include evidence of why their chosen methods and standards are appropriate to deal with Covid-19.
But what is real and what is good marketing without much substance?
The lack of official guidelines or standards for Covid-19 disinfection meant that commercial cleaning companies set their own. This may or may not be available for scrutiny by clients. For businesses looking for information quickly, there may not always be enough available to make an informed decision.
Organisations such as the British Cleaning Council filled part of that gap by publishing a guide on:
While this is helpful, it is only available to members of the British Cleaning Council. It is also primarily aimed at organisations operating in office buildings and the health care sector – those that make up its membership base. Since not every commercial cleaning company is a member, there are still gaps in how many have access to it.
The Cleaning and Hygiene Suppliers Association launched an accreditation scheme for chemical manufacturers in September 2020. However, this is only applicable to its members. As it operates in the UK only, other well-established, global manufacturers are not covered.
Experienced manufacturers whose products have a strong track record of safety and reliability are excluded. To compound this, there is little scrutiny of companies making claims about their products before they go on the market. You need only look at the unfortunate incident Transport for London experienced with a chemical used to disinfect bus stations for an example of this.
The problem remains: What are the standards to meet and how can businesses choose a commercial cleaning provider who will help them stay operational?
At Acorn Commercials we continue to adhere to the stringent procedures we set ourselves when we began operating. The two-step cleaning and disinfection process that has been standard for our health care and patient transport vehicle clients throughout is applied across the board.
We have our own in-house infection control specialist who has over 15 years’ experience creating policies and procedures in infection control and sanitation. We work closely with him to analyse and determine the best approach for each client. This way, you can be sure that the cleaning and disinfection regime we propose is tailor-made for you.
We mobilise fast, so that we can contain any further spread. Our staff can be on clients’ premises within an hour of a confirmed or suspected Covid-19 case. We offer a variety of disinfection options to suit different businesses as well as budgets.
We developed an app, installed in all our vans and carried on site by our staff. It provides a digital record of the work undertaken for each job and each client. Reports can be printed on demand, providing evidence of cleaning and disinfection procedures for each site.
We encourage all our existing and prospective clients to ask questions. We know that at a crucial time, you want to get someone on site quickly to clean and disinfect it. It’s easier to be swayed by a shiny website and product disinfection claims during a time of high stress.
However, a few moments on the phone asking the right questions could save you a lot of time and potential hassle. We recommend asking the following:
Armed with this information you can then make an informed choice about the best company to employ.
For more information on what Acorn Commercials is doing to meet the Covid-19 challenge for our clients, please visit our dedicated Covid-19 page This includes full details of the process we follow. It also includes the options available to you for additional disinfection suitable for your business needs and budget. You will also find information on the standards we work to and the evidence to support them.
Alternatively, give us a call on 0800 772 3424 or email us at email@example.com. We would be happy to talk to you about how we work to keep your business safe and open.