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There's never a good time for a clogged toilet. A blockage also runs the risk of violating the HSE's welfare at work recommendations as people should not have to wait for long periods of time to use a toilet. Fortunately, resolving the issue should be a quick and simple job.

Plunging a Toilet

This is likely the method that comes to mind first. Before starting, make sure you've turned off the water supply to the toilet.

If you suspect the toilet is blocked, do not repeatedly flush. Most toilet bowls should safely hold one cistern of water - If you flush again you run the risk of the toilet overflowing.

Making sure you are wearing gloves, ensure the plunger creates a tight seal within the toilet.

Once you've created the seal, start plunging slowly. Maximum pressure will be created if the plunger is fully submerged in water - if not it's possible an air bubble will be pushed through the pipes.

Plunge 5 - 6 times, removing the device on the final pull motion - if the toilet drains you've been successful in unclogging the block. If this hasn't solved the blockage, ensure the plunger is positioned to create a seal in the toilet and repeat.

  

 

Back to School Cleaning Tips for Busy Parents

Now that the kids have gone back to school, you may find yourself looking around the house and wondering how on earth you are going clean all the mess, but here at Spectrum Cleaning Solutions we are going to share our own tips from when our children have gone back to school. So, if you’re dreading the big clean now that the kids are back at school, you’re in the right place!

 

 

 Carpet and Upholstery Cleaning

As a parent this can seem like one of the most daunting tasks, as no doubt over summer there has been everything from muddy shoes and clothes to spilt food and drink finding their way onto your carpets and upholstery. What we’d recommend is giving your carpets and upholstery a once over with your regular vacuum cleaner, making sure to use all of the attachments and extensions to get into those hard to reach places, then to use a steam cleaner to sanitise the surfaces. A good steam cleaner will clean 99.9% of bacteria and can be used in a range of areas around your home, including on floors, tiles, glass and mirrors.

 

 

 Screen Cleaning

After the holidays there’ll no doubt be fingerprints all over the TV, laptop, tablet and phone screens after the use they’ve had over the summer, which not only looks unpleasant but can harbour bacteria that may become harmful to those in your home. The quickest method we would recommend is to go over the screen with a dry or damp microfibre cloth. If using the cloth damp, it should be damp when touched but not so damp that any water can be wrung from it. For a more in depth look at how to clean screens, see our blog post on it.

 

 

Getting Fresh Smelling Laundry

Your laundry basket may be overflowing by this point, and those items that have been forgotten about all summer that are at the bottom of the pile may need to be washed on a different setting to those on top to ensure that all clothes are left smelling fresh. Ensuring that your washing machine is running as efficiently as possible is vital to make sure that your washing is always fresh. We would recommend running a cycle once a month with no clothes in on the hottest setting your machine has, along with a washing machine cleaner to ensure that your machine is running as well as possible and stays limescale and mould free.

 

Outdoor Toy Cleaning

Kids love playing outside, and there’s no easier way of getting them outside than with a paddling pool, a slide, garden sand pits, seesaws etc. but these can also become dirty with their use over summer. It is tempting to just chuck these into the garden shed and forget about them until next summer, but you’ll save yourself a tough job at the start of next summer by giving them a quick wash now. We’d recommend using a pressure washer on them just to blast the muck off and giving them a rinse down with your hose – easy as that!

 

 

Doorknobs, Light Switches, Phones and Remotes

DON’T FORGET TO DO THESE! These places are easily forgotten when we clean our homes, we focus on the main areas like the floors, windows, upholstery and clothes but forget the little places where our hands touch the most, meaning that there’s probably a bigger build up of bacteria here than anywhere else in the house! To clean doorknobs you can simply use hot soapy water and a sponge or cloth to clean them, whereas for light switches, phones and remotes you need to be a little more careful as they’re electrical devices. However, it is still easy to do, all we would recommend that you need to do is to spray your normal all-purpose cleaner onto a paper towel and then use this to clean the device – told you it was easy!

 

 

I hope you’ve found this blog entry helpful, if there’s anything else you’d like us to cover then please feel free to let us know by using the contact details at the top of the page.

Dirty fingerprints on television, computer, laptop, tablet and phone screens are a bug bear for many, not only looking unpleasant but also harbouring bacteria that may become harmful, thus causing infections. Giving the device a quick wipe over may seem like a simple task, however you could be causing real damage to your flat screen.

Here are our dos and don’ts for screen cleaning:

DON’T spray cleaning fluid directly onto the screen. The materials used to manufacture modern screens (mostly fine and very thin materials) simply won’t withstand the effects of fluid being directly applied. The chances of the liquid completely evaporating are very slim, and there is no doubt that it will leave residual damage.

DON’T use cleaning fluids with an alcohol or ammonia base. Even though glass cleaner may seem the most logical solution, they are often ammonia based and can therefore strip anti-reflective coatings off screens, cause clouding or simply damage the screen. Alcohol based products work to the same effect, so we advise you to always check the content of the fluid.

DON’T use paper towels of cleaning rags used for general purposes. Once again, we re-iterate that modern screens are very delicate/sensitive and therefore abrasive materials like paper towels are not suitable, encouraging damage such as scratching. Similarly, any slight abrasive thing in a cleaning rag is likely to cause scratching.

DO prepare the screen. At a basic level, turn the device off, however we recommend unplugging it completely. In addition, wait until the screen is cool. A warm screen makes it more difficult to clean and can even cause damage.

DO dust the screen. Your aim should be to remove as much from the screen as you can without having to actually touch it. One way is to use a can of compressed air (spraying at least a foot or more away from the screen.) This dislodges the most electrostatically-adhered dust particles. More ideally, we recommend using a simple rubber dusting blub.

DO use a microfiber cloth. Ensuring it is dry and clean, microfiber cloths are the safest tool to use for cleaning screens. Light pressure and wide movements from either left to right or top to bottom provide the best results.

DO use a dampened cloth. For some extra cleaning power, we recommend dampening a microfiber cloth with distilled water, as tap water can leave mineral deposits and a film on the screen. The cloth should be damp when touched, but not so damp that any water can be wrung out of it.

DO use a dampened cloth with distilled water and white vinegar. If the distilled water alone isn’t working at tackling a particularly ardent cleaning task, then use a 50/50 mixture of distilled water and white vinegar. Use the same light pressure and wide movements discussed before, and make sure the microfiber cloth is suitably damp but not so any residue will be left behind.

And that’s all there is to it!

 

Hey Flu-Screw You!

After returning to work after recovering recently from this debilitating flu bug which seems to be doing the rounds, I learn that in the UK, we are currently experiencing the worst flu season since 2011.

Since the beginning of winter 2017, there has been a total of 664 hospital admissions and 85 deaths confirmed - startling statistics I’m sure you’ll agree. Incredibly easy to catch from those around you, flu is an infectious viral illness spread by germs from coughs and sneezes that can live on hands and surfaces for 24 hours. Now unable as we are to change its infectious nature, there are useful things you can do to keep yourself and others safe from the flu.

  1. Be aware of the symptoms.

Flu symptoms can come on very quickly, so it can be tricky to detect them in enough time to start taking preventative measures. However, it is important to know what kind of things to look for so that you can act as early as possible. So, what should you keep an eye on?

  • A fever – a temperature above 38°C indicates that you have one. A thermometer is a useful item to have in your first aid kit, and can be picked up in pharmacists, supermarkets, and some high street stores such as Boots
  • Aches – of the body (unusually and unexpectedly so)
  • Headaches
  • Tiredness – (unusually and unexpectedly so)
  • A chesty cough
  • Tummy pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Children can also get pain in their ears and appear lacking in energy

These symptoms can last for a week or more, so don’t be surprised if medicines don’t seem to do the trick right away. Flu can be especially uncomfortable for certain groups of people, for example those aged over 65, those who are pregnant and those with other serious health conditions.

  1. Know what to do

It is important to know how to treat flu-like symptoms so that they do not last for an extended period or more worryingly, develop into something more serious. So how should you react?

  • Rest and sleep – do not try to carry on with your normal daily routine. Instead, give in to the virus and let your body recover through getting as much rest and sleep as you can.
  • Keep warm
  • Take paracetamol or ibuprofen to lower a temperature and ease aches and pains
  • Drink plenty of fluids (water) to avoid dehydration. Note: urine should be light yellow or clear
  • Have the flu vaccine if you are eligible (free if you are pregnant, aged 65 or over, have a long-term health condition, are a carer, are a child aged 2 or 3. Ask your GP, pharmacist, or midwife about the vaccine
  • Reduce the risk of others catching the virus by:
    • Avoiding crowded spaces
    • Using tissues to trap germs when you cough or sneeze
    • Binning used tissues as quickly as possible
    • Washing your hands thoroughly and often with warm water and soap
    • Remember: “Catch in. Bin it. Kill it.”

It is also useful for the workplace to take some responsibility, implementing measures to prevent the spreading of the disease where possible.

  1. Safeguard the workplace

Doing what you can to keep the workplace germ-free not only supports an employee’s wellbeing, but also keeps the number of staff taking sick leave at a minimum. So what steps can be taken at work?

  • It’s important to know the difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitising
    • Cleaning removes germs and dirt by using a cleaning solution to physically remove them. It is important to note that cleaning does not necessarily kill the germs, but instead removes them, lowers their numbers, and reduces the risk of spreading infection.
    • Disinfecting does kill germs. It works by using specific disinfectant chemicals, and although doesn’t necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, it does kill the germs on the surface being cleaned, lowering the risk of spreading infection.
    • Sanitising lowers the number of germs to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This happens by cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or subjects to lower the risk of spreading infection.
    • Clearly, all three are very important! If you are unsure as to whether your organisation doing this sufficiently, please contact us for further information.
  • Regularly clean and disinfect surfaces that are used often. These include things such as:
    • Desks
    • Countertops
    • Doorknobs
    • Computer keyboards
    • Phones
  • Ensure that your routine cleaning and disinfecting is being thoroughly and correctly carried out, adhering to public health standards and requirements
    • Always follow label directions on cleaning products and disinfectants
    • Refer to training on product use where necessary
    • Ensure that enough contact time is left between the chemical solution and surface
  • Handle waste properly
    • Always ensure that your workplace’s standard procedures for handling waste are carried out
    • Place no-touch waste baskets where they are easy to use
    • Avoid touching used tissues and other waste when emptying baskets
    • Thoroughly wash your hands with soap and warm water after emptying waste baskets and touching used tissues
  • Install touch free solutions where possible
    • In toilets and kitchens, touch free dispensers (for hand soap and hand sanitising gel) remove the need to touch common contact points
  • Drying hands is just as important as washing hands
    • Germs can transfer more easily from wet hands, so ensure that there are ample hand drying facilities in the workplace

Although we hope that the flu is on its way out, there is still time to improve facilities for both now and in the future. Providing your business with the right equipment and procedures to deal with the flu season, you can actively help to create a more pleasurable working environment.

Please contact us to find out more about how Spectrum can help you to achieve this.

FIRST-WORD NOROVIRUS! 

Not a pleasant subject to highlight, but an important one nonetheless! And I am hoping this article will help you ensure that your staff and customers are protected as much as they can be!  Scroll down to read about what you need to know, what you should do and the tools you require. 

Also known as the winter vomiting bug, Norovirus is the most common stomach bug in the UK.
It’s also highly contagious and in recent weeks you may have seen news reports about outbreaks in the UK. These have happened in Nottingham and Dudley, and a suspected outbreak in Blackpool.

Norovirus outbreaks are most commonly associated with cruise ships, however latest statistics suggest we are more likely to contract the virus in a local restaurant. Cleaning professionals must be trained to deal with incidences to prevent its quick spread, and must use appropriate tools.

In November 2016, several branches of a favourite Mexican restaurant chain in London were forced to close because restaurant staff and guests became sick with norovirus. Altogether more than 350 people became ill with the disease.

It’s not surprising that this happened in November. Norovirus is often referred to as the “winter vomiting bug” because it seems the most cases are reported between October and April of each year. And last winter the disease apparently made its way through many parts of Europe.

By December 2016 Public Health England reported there had already been 2,435 cases of the disease, 12 per cent more than average for the same period in the past five years. Further, and somewhat startling, “this figure was 71 per cent higher than the same period last year”, according to a report in The Guardian newspaper. However, the newspaper did add that last winter the number of norovirus cases was below average.

As of April 2016, Denmark reported a high number of cases of norovirus, mostly because of lettuce imported from France and served in restaurants as well as marketed to consumers. And in October 2016 a news story in a Luxembourg publication reported that “norovirus has hit Lorraine (France) and the east of France hard in the middle of October”.

As to the health impacts of norovirus, while it is a very contagious disease and can be a serious health problem for the very young and the very old, the nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea it causes are rarely life-threatening. Usually, after two to three days it’s gone.

At this point, many readers may be asking “isn’t norovirus a disease you get on a ship at sea?” Well we most commonly hear about it when it spreads on a cruise ship. But according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), we are more likely to get sick from norovirus in a local restaurant - such as the chain mentioned in London - than on a cruise ship sailing in some exotic locale.

It tends to happen more frequently in restaurants because kitchen workers do not always adhere to proper hand hygiene rules. Sometimes it is the result of imported food contaminated with the disease, as in Denmark.
But there are other reasons it can spread in restaurants and that’s where cleaning professionals - both contractors and in-house cleaning teams - come in.

Here’s what you need to know

  • When someone gets sick in a restaurant, and we are referring to vomit, it must always be assumed that the cause is not the cooking but norovirus
  • Norovirus, as we said earlier, is known as the vomiting disease. When someone vomits with the disease, they often vomit forcefully with pathogens becoming airborne and spreading as much as 7.62 metres (25 feet)
  • High-touch areas such as chairs, counters, tables, near-by high-touch areas, exposed glass and silverware, all within this 7.62-metre area can be coated with the pathogens of the virus without anyone being aware of it
  • Only a small amount of norovirus particles, fewer than 100, can cause someone to get sick
  • Here’s the big decisive factor. Whereas most germs, bacteria, and viruses that land on surfaces only survive a few hours or a day, norovirus pathogens can last a few days, even a week or more.

This explains why it is so highly contagious and why we in the cleaning industry need to know more about how to clean up after someone gets sick and what tools and products are necessary to do it properly. This is true whether the incident is in a restaurant, a school, a hotel, convention centre, or any public building.

Tools required

  • A ‘spill clean-up kit’.  A quick and easy solution to the removal of body-spillages, combining the absorption power of Sanitaire with the germicidal and odour neutralising efficacy of Sta-kill in one handy pack containing: latex gloves, a scoop, and a tough disposal bag, meaning accidental body spills can be cleaned away safely and efficiently. Buy/view Sanitaire Clean-Up Kit here.
  • A disinfectant (Sta-Kill included in spill clean-up kit)

The clean-up crew should always be instructed how to clean up a vomiting or bodily fluid spill incident. But having the instructions handy for quick and easy reference is always a good idea.

What you should do

Based on all we have discussed so far, it should be clear that norovirus is highly transmissible, and this applies to cleaning workers. If the clean-up is not done properly not only can the disease spread to other building users, but to the cleaning workers themselves.

The first thing cleaning workers should do when purchasing a spill clean-up kit is read the instructions included with the kit if they are included. Even better, work with a distributor familiar with the norovirus clean-up process. Typically, the instructions and the distributor will suggest the following:

  • Using warning signs, block off the entire area around the spill in a radius of about 7.62m from the incident.
  • Workers in charge of the clean-up operation should put on protective gear such as gloves (provided in spill kit and additionally face masks).  Buy/view your masks here.
  • Remove any chairs or furniture in the immediate area.
  • Place the granules over the incident (included in spill kit). Buy/view your replacement Sanitaire Powder here.
  • Spray disinfectant over the above and the surrounding area (included in spill kit) and allow for proper dwell time to complete the process. Buy/view your replacement Sta-Kill here
  • Scoop as much of the spill as possible into the bag provided.
  • Further wipe the area with a disposable towels/cloth.
  • Place the the towels/cloths in the disposable rubbish bag and secure; waste bags should be disposed of in a receptacle outside of the facility.
  • The floor area should be cleaned and disinfected with the Sta-Kill Biocidal Cleaner and Deodoriser. Mop the entire area and then mop again using a Safezone Disinfectant, a two-step process.
  • Finish by cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces, objects, ledges, tables, chairs, walls - anything around the incident.  Keep in mind how far the airborne pathogens can spread.
  • Finally remove and dispose of all protective gear, thoroughly wash hands, and then inspect the area just cleaned.

It’s this final step that is so important. Don’t be in a rush to open the area to traffic. The final inspection helps make certain the area is thoroughly cleaned so no one gets sick.

LAST-WORD NOROVIRUS- KILL IT DEAD!