Pandemic Cleaning Lessons

February 2022

The pandemic has been a wake-up call to facility and condominium managers.  Cleaning and disinfecting measures employed during the pandemic have been re-evaluated and some have been found to be ineffective or detrimental.

Too many believed COVID would be a one-time concern that would quickly disappear.  This is contrary to what many medical experts believe.  COVID is not over nor are we likely to be free of it for decades.  This requires condominium communities to establish sustainable cleaning practices that are affordable and safe.

Indiscriminate cleaning is a mistake.  The use of powerful disinfectants, including bleach, in an attempt to stop the spread of COVID is ineffective.  These have been used on virtually everything in hallways, elevators, common areas and bathrooms in the mistaken belief that that virus lives on surfaces.  The smell of bleach is noticeable, can remain on surfaces for months, and has detrimental side effects for people, pets and the environment.  Bleach and other disinfectants are not needed to protect against COVID.

While the virus has been found to survive on some surfaces for days, this is only in controlled laboratory settings.  Real world studies suggest the virus survives on surfaces only for a few hours.

Disinfectants may not have been needed at all.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continue to recommend a normal cleaning routine with soap and water to reduce the amount of virus on surfaces and objects, and risk of exposure.

Implications for high-rise communities are broad.  A back-to-basics approach to cleaning, with minor modifications, may be the best approach.