As COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease across Australia, business owners are focusing on the task of softening the impact for employees transitioning back to the workplace. The easing of restrictions has come at a price, with the Government setting strict guidelines for the implementation of precautionary measures all individuals must comply with.

Today, we take a look at these guidelines and their impact on staff interaction, as well as some basic hygiene requirements everyone should follow. In particular, we’ve set up a guide which employers,  employees and commercial cleaning contractors will find helpful in maintaining the health and safety of all individuals, regardless of their industry.

In our article we will discuss;

  1. Hygiene and Modern Day Attitudes Towards Cleanliness
  2. Cleaning, Sanitising & Disinfecting
  3. Personal Protection Equipment
  4. Personal Hygiene & Workplace Etiquette COVID-19
  5. Commercial Cleaning Services
  6. Final Thoughts

1. Hygiene and Modern Day Attitudes Towards Cleanliness

It’s an unfortunate truth that many fail to recognise the real value of something until it’s gone.   Global response in the battle against COVID-19 has been universal, isolating individuals in its approach by attempting to lower transference of the virus by way of quarantining the masses, social distancing, hygiene awareness and regular hand washing.

Now, it’s not that humans are unclean by nature, far from it; long before COVID-19, general awareness attributed to the harmful effects of bacteria and viruses was well-established. That being said, you may be surprised to learn doctors were slow in accepting the essential role poor hygiene and handwashing played in patient death rate pre and post-surgery. You may also find it rather astonishing, even though surgeons understood the benefits of scrubbing before surgery in the 1870s; it was not until the 1980s hand hygiene was officially incorporated into American health care.

As the pandemic’s grip on us lessens and we begin to emerge from isolation and return to work; continued social distancing is touted as the key to keeping the masses safe by attempting to lower reinfection through transference. In Australia, the Government, along with the Department of Health have set strict guidelines for individuals and business owners as they return to work; these guidelines are set to remain ingrained in our culture for the foreseeable future and post-pandemic life.

All individuals have taken on the responsibility of being more proactive in the pursuit of cleanliness and hygiene with newfound enthusiasm.  To this end, we’re going to start by taking a look at two areas the medical profession has indicated impact substantially on the diseases spread; those areas are; hand hygiene and surface sanitation.

Hand Hygiene

When it comes to hand hygiene, there is only one solution guaranteed to effectively remove grease and grime from soiled hands and remove harmful bacteria—and that solution is old-fashioned hand soap.  However, new technologies based on scientific analysis over the years have paved the way for the emergence of a range of hand sanitisers and hand rubs. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each of these products to help you understand how to best effectively use these products and protect your family. 

Hand Soap

As previously mentioned; washing your hands with soap is a very effective method of removing harmful bacteria and viruses, though using the correct technique is essential.

For the best results, health professionals recommend lathering soap in your hands for no less than 20 seconds—scrubbing under fingernails and washing forearms when necessary.

This proven method is very effective and recommended before every meal; when handling or touching items in public places or after visiting the bathroom.

Sure Shield Medicated Hand Soap is one great option when you’re looking for a good quality, Australian made product. On occasions, however, circumstances can arise where you need that extra level of protection, and this is where hand sanitisers and rubs stand out.

Hand Sanitisers

Hand sanitisers contain antiseptic compounds used to kill and prevent the growth of microorganisms and are available in two forms—as a hand wash for use with water or as a hand rub.

Washing with soap and water is far more effective at cleansing when compared with hand rubs. Hand rubs tend to remain on the skin and can result in attracting more dirt through surface contact than unsanitised hands. 

The best results are achieved by washing hands with soap and water and then using a  product such as Sure Shield Hand Sanitiser to achieve an extra layer of protection. A question asked by some; are there occasions when sanitisers are best not used? We discuss the pros and cons or sanitisers next.

When Should Sanitisers be Used?

The technique using hand sanitiser is the same as using soap by ensuring all areas of your hands are covered, applying and working sanitiser between fingers and the back of your hands before rinsing thoroughly. Shortly before restrictions commenced due to COVID-19, hand sanitiser use began to skyrocket, fueled by medical recommendations and media coverage. Individual use aside, the retail and food industry sectors, in particular, have contributed significantly to the exponential growth of sanitiser use throughout the globe.

Sanitiser hand rubs, in particular, are very popular in the retail industry where workers serve at checkouts or in retail shops; under these circumstances sanitiser hand rubs are ideal. On-the-go families also find hand sanitisers very useful when washing facilities are not always readily available. And, finally, as a last-minute reminder, hand rubs kill germs but do not remove the dirt.

Note: Hand sanitiser should not be applied to greasy or heavily soiled hands. Dirty hands should be washed thoroughly with soap and water with hand sanitiser rub used to provide an additional layer of protection when deemed necessary.

Did you know: Before surgery, surgeons wash their hands in a scrub sink for a full five minutes using a strong antibacterial soap, scrubbing to their elbows.

2. Surface Cleaning

The second most likely place you’re likely to pick up germs is directly from surfaces, so it makes sense all surfaces we regularly come into contact with should be clean. Let’s take a brief look at the difference between cleaning and sanitising and how sanitisers compare with disinfectants in fighting the spread of germs.


While the results may look the same, there are significant differences between surfaces cleaned and those sanitised.  Cleaning removes dirt and other matter from surfaces, and although some bacteria are removed, a considerable amount of nasties are left behind.

For the most part, surface cleaning such as the removal of grime and dust is all that is necessary for the majority of residential and commercial applications.  For instance, it would not make sense to sanitise an industrial warehouse, although it would make perfectly good sense to ensure it is dust and pest free.

Here are seven simple cleaning tips to help make your commercial or residential clean easier;

  1. Gather and prepare the right cleaning supplies, including a good surface cleaner and a good surface sanitiser
  2. Always clean from top to bottom
  3. Clean in one direction to ensure you miss nothing
  4. Read product labels for recommended use and safety precautions
  5. Use mild detergents and gentle cleansers first, using stronger solvents as required
  6. Wipe surfaces using an ‘S’ pattern to wipe, a proven method which cleans more effectively in less time.
  7. The eye test, a step back approach to viewing what you’ve cleaned to ensure haven’t missed a thing.


Before sanitising, all surfaces require cleaning; to remove dust, grease, liquid or food from the surface; a 4-step process which makes sanitation more effective;

  1. Clean the surface
  2. Rinse the surface
  3. Sanitise the surface
  4. Allow the surface to air dry.

Food preparation surfaces require strict adherence to cleanliness standards, with regular cleaning and sanitising schedules observed.  During food preparation, sanitation of surfaces is repeated when working with different food types to prevent cross-contamination and the risk of food poisoning through transference.

Important: Some sanitisers are not food safe and contain toxic substances which must be rinsed off. The Department of Health offers advice on sanitising surfaces and the use of food-safe sanitisers for food preparation surfaces.

Toxic sanitisers which must thoroughly rinse are;

  • QAC’s (quaternary ammonium compounds)
  • Chlorine release agents
  • Iodophors

Sanitisers are ideal for removing bacteria and viruses from desktops and workstations around the office, kitchen and other surfaces employees have regular contact.

Essential points to remember when sanitising include;

  • Food safe sanitisers do not require rinsing.
  • All sanitisers work best when they are mixed correctly.
  • Sanitiser effectiveness varies depending on the brand, compound and surface contact time, always following the manufacturer’s recommendation.
  • When storing pre-diluted sanitisers ensure all spray bottles or containers are clearly labelled and with their suggested use.
  • Leave benches and countertops to air dry.


Disinfectants differ significantly in purpose from sanitisers; sanitisers reduce the growth of bacteria, viruses and fungi to safe levels, whereas disinfectants kill germs. As both sanitisers and disinfectants do not clean, surface cleaning is required before application.

Disinfectant advantages;

  • Killing bacteria and viruses in seconds
  • Evaporate from surfaces without residue
  • Relatively inexpensive

Disinfectant disadvantages

  • Highly toxic
  • Can irritate skin and cause dermatitis
  • Some have carcinogenic properties.

The key to keeping your workplace, commercial offices or industrial workspace clean is regularity. Regular cleaning prevents dust build-up and makes the job of cleaning easier.

Safe Work Australia has an extensive guide to cleaning for employers and employees; we recommend you check it out, keeping your workplace clean will help lower reinfection rates and boost productivity.

3. Personal Protective Equipment

With all the talk in the media about sanitation, considerable focus has switched to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).  PPE is designed to protect and minimise risk to workers health and safety—the requirements vary depending on the industry.  Recommended items for commercial cleaners include gloves, masks, eye and face protection.

Disposable gloves

Disposable gloves are a practical measure to reduce the spread of infection, commonly used in the healthcare profession; however, increasingly used in food preparation and serving in the foodservice sector. Gloves should be replaced after coming into contact with a contaminated area or contact with a person.

Reusable gloves are a practical solution for regular surface cleaning in reducing exposure to harmful bacteria and harsh chemicals used in the majority of cleaning solutions.

When fitting gloves;

  • Remove any jewellery
  • Cover any open cuts or abrasions
  • Wash & thoroughly dry hands
  • Fit gloves adjusting at the cuffs

When removing gloves;

  • Remove gloves at the cuffs
  • Dispose of gloves into an appropriate waste bin
  • Wash hands

Eye Protection

Eye protection such as goggles or face-shields is used when cleaning in the healthcare system and other hazardous situations where airborne particles may be present such as medical facilities or doctors surgeries in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

When fitting goggles, be careful too;

  • Wash hands before handling eye protection
  • Position and adjust the mask, so it is comfortable.

When removing eye protection;

  • Wash hands
  • Remove the eye protection by gripping the sides of the goggles
  • Store appropriately
  • Wash hands thoroughly.

In some circumstances, protective eyewear should also be disinfected.

Disposable Masks

Disposable surgical masks are intended to limit the spread of droplets produced through talking, coughing or sneezing, which can lead to infecting another person.

When fitting disposable masks;

  • Position the mask over the mouth and nose
  • Fasten the ties above and below the ears at the back of the head

When removing masks;

  • Wash hands
  • Untie ties at the back of the head
  • Discard in an appropriate waste
  • Wash hands thoroughly.

Note: Surgical masks do not filter viruses; viruses are so small they pass through the filter element.

Further, information and illustrations about the use of personal protection equipment are shown on the Department of Health website.

4. Personal Hygiene & Workplace Etiquette & Covid-19

Midsection of people holding hands

Few would doubt the benefit of taking a preventative approach to hygiene in the workplace, especially in offices where the average office desk can become breeding grounds for swarms of bacteria, often exceeding bacteria growth found on toilet seats.

Another benefit of increasing hygiene awareness in your workplace is the lowering of cross-infection and reduced absenteeism.  Below we’ve listed hygiene habits you should practice daily areas and gain the most benefit from, they are;

Things every employee should do;

  1. Washing and sanitising hands after visits to the bathroom
  2. Keep your work area clean and sanitised.
  3. Sanitising hands after touching surfaces other than your workstation
  4. Keep tissues handy to cover your mouth or face when coughing or sneezing.
  5. Avoid touching your eyes and mouth.
  6. Avoid coming to the workplace if you have cold or flu symptoms.
  7. Exercise social distancing
  8. Sanitise your hands before entering and leaving the kitchen
  9. Keep kitchen areas clean at all times.
  10. Inform your employer if you are diagnosed with COVID-19.

Items every employer should provide;

  1. Regularly cleaned and disinfected bathroom facilities
  2. Washroom liquid soaps and sanitisers
  3. Hand drying facilities or paper towels
  4. Ensure the workplace is cleaned regularly
  5. Ensure kitchen facilities are kept clean and tidy
  6. Provide personal protective equipment when appropriate
  7. Ensure all workstations are kept clean and waste bins emptied daily
  8. Ensure adequate ventilation and airflow is maintained throughout the workplace.

5. Commercial Cleaning Services

First impressions count, so ensuring your workplace is neat and tidy is essential for employee happiness and health.  Below we show how commercial cleaning requirements vary greatly depending on the industry and individual business requirements.  When selecting a suitable cleaning company for your business, it’s important to isolate the exact tasks you will need the cleaner to accomplish.

Common sectors were commercial cleaners are most often required are;

  • Office Cleaning
  • Medical Centres
  • Gyms
  • Schools
  • Childcare
  • Aged Care
  • Strata
  • Hospitality

Office Cleaning

Office cleaning is one of the most scrutinised areas by employers and employees in the commercial space.  Below are some of the area cleaners should focus on;

  • Emptying bins and replacing bin liners
  • Vacuuming carpets and mopping hard tiled floors
  • Cleaning windows
  • Cleaning office furniture
  • Cleaning kitchen areas
  • Cleaning employee workstations
  • Dusting and cleaning of computer equipment, screens and keyboards, desks and chairs
  • Removing stains on walls, carpets or furniture
  • Cleaning of toilets and urinals
  • Restocking toilets and bathrooms with toiletries
  • Dusting of surfaces (and sanitising when appropriate)
  • Sweeping staircases
  • Cleaning handrails

School Cleaning

School cleaning involves many of the regular cleaning tasks associated with commercial cleaning with further consideration in areas unique to the school environment, such as;

  • Emptying classroom bins and replacing bin liners
  • Emptying bins around the playground
  • Mopping hard tiled or vinyl floor surfaces
  • Cleaning windows
  • Mopping spills
  • Cleaning graffiti
  • Cleaning student desks and chairs
  • Cleaning staff rooms
  • Cleaning computer screens, sanitising keyboards and mouse
  • Removing stains
  • Cleaning toilets and urinals
  • Restocking washrooms with toiletries
  • Sweeping staircases
  • Cleaning handrails

For more details about the new cleaning and sanitisation requirements within schools, click here.

Commercial Kitchen Cleaning

Commercial kitchen cleaning is one of the most closely scrutinised areas in the commercial cleaning sector with special attention given to sanitisation in food preparation and serving areas.

Areas which requires particular attention to ensure cleanliness while meeting the health and safety guidelines are;

  • Cleaning and sanitation of food preparation areas and electrical appliances
  • Cleaning of cooking equipment and splashbacks
  • Cleaning of range hoods and exhaust fans
  • Regular dusting and cleaning of ceiling fans
  • Frequent removal of waste from grease traps
  • Mopping of hard floor surfaces while ensuring there is no slip hazard
  • Emptying bins and replacing bin liners
  • Vacuuming carpets and mopping hard tiled floors
  • Ensuring windows are dust and grease-free
  • Removing stains on walls

Want more details about safely reopening your commercial kitchen in a post-pandemic world? Click here.

Child Care Cleaning

Child care centres require a thorough cleaning regime to ensure the safety of children.  As children interact with one another and the toys and surfaces they play with; a proper sanitation and cleaning process is essential.

In child care centres, the areas require particular attention are;

  • Cleaning of toys daily
  • Cleaning and sanitisation of every surface which children come into contact with such as tables, chairs and bins.
  • Cleaning of spills
  • Clean toilet facilities
  • Restocking of toiletries
  • Cleaning and sanitisation of nappy change area
  • Cleaning of kitchen and staff facilities

The Government has set strict guidelines for child care centres concerning cleaning. Each child care centre is responsible for developing its hygiene policy.  Bimbadeen child care has developed its hygiene policy for child safety which provides further insights to just how detailed the cleanliness requirements.

Click here for more information about Child Care safety precautions in a post pandemic world.

Aged Care Cleaning

All aged care facilities have a duty of care in maintaining a high standard of patient care in a clean and hygienic environment. Cleaning companies engaged at aged care facilities are required to adhere to strict hygiene requirements to mitigate and manage the risk of spreading disease or infections within the facility.

Special attention is given to cleanliness in these areas;

  • Ensure a high standard of hygiene and cleanliness
  • Cleaning, dusting of surfaces and sanitising when appropriate.
  • Vacuuming carpets and mopping hard tiled floors
  • Ensure windows are clean
  • Clean and sanitise all public areas
  • Removing stains on walls, carpets or furniture
  • Cleaning of toilets and urinals
  • Restocking bathrooms with toiletries
  • Cleaning handrails
  • Cleaning of furniture, such as tabletops and chairs
  • Wearing of appropriate personal protective equipment
  • Recordkeeping.

Strata Cleaning

Buildings under strata title have common areas where the cost in maintaining the upkeep is split amongst the buildings individual owners.  Common areas of the property including the buildings hallways, elevators, stairs and entertainment areas all require regular maintenance to ensure the building is kept in the same clean and presentable manner as a regular homeowner would do.

Tasks needing constant upkeep in strata buildings are;

  • Sweeping, mopping, vacuuming and disinfecting of common areas such as hallways and foyer areas.
  • Sweeping of pathways and courtyards
  • Ensuring outdoor and communal areas lights are in working condition and replacing bulbs when required.
  • Cleaning common areas and external windows.

6. Final Thoughts

Cleanliness and hygiene have been ingrained into the minds of individuals whom we live, work, learn and play in our community for over a century. Over time, our knowledge and awareness of the dangers and implications of poor hygiene practices have grown. How we respond to new threats, bacteria or viruses will continue to change as we develop a better understanding of how to treat these threats as they occur.

All employers and employees within the community should actively embrace the wellbeing and safety of those we work with and whom we serve.  We encourage everyone to stay informed on how to act against potential threats. It is the best way you can show just how much you value the public’s health and safety by keeping our workplaces safe.

Want more information about how you can safely transition back into the workplace? Click here to read on.