Home Cleaning & Maintenance How to Handle Cold & Flu Season Sustainably

How to Handle Cold & Flu Season Sustainably


NATIONAL REPORT—Cold and flu season is here, which means facility managers face the dual challenge of helping promote a healthy environment for facility occupants while maintaining sustainable efforts. Although flu season occurs in the fall and winter seasons, its peak activity is now until February. As a facility manager, you play an important role in helping ensure your facility stays clean and occupants stay healthy during this time.

Here are several sustainable considerations you can incorporate in your facility’s cleaning routine to help your occupants stay healthy.

Focus Your Cleaning Routine

During this period, many facilities see an uptick in foot traffic due to the colder weather or holiday shopping season which also means an increase in germs. Although keeping the entirety of the facility clean is important, the focus should be the restroom. That’s because one of the biggest hotspots for germs that cause the common cold or flu is facility restrooms. In restrooms, there is an average of over 500,000 different bacterial cells per square inch.

Encourage Hand Hygiene Compliance

Ensuring optimal hand hygiene plays a critical role in helping mitigate the transmission of germs within your facility. Hands can carry as many as 150 different species of bacteria at a time. Facility managers should promote adherence to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines of at least 20 seconds of handwashing with soap and water. Consider installing automatic sensor faucets to turn on water only when needed to help reduce water consumption. Additionally, installing informative signage within your facility’s restrooms reminds your occupants of the proper handwashing technique.

Install Touchless Paper Towel Dispensers

A common misconception is air hand dryers are more hygienic than paper towels. However, jet hand dryers (JAD) are shown to disperse over 190 times more germs on users’ hands than paper towels. This can lead to an elevated bacteria spread throughout your facility and among individuals since proper hand cleanliness will not be achieved. Automatic paper towel dispensers are designed to release a specific amount of product when activated by users waving their hands, effectively eliminating a source of germ transmission, and minimizing unnecessary paper towel waste.

Use Third-Party Certified Products

Cold and flu season often leads to increased use of facial tissues. However, a major argument against paper products is their perceived lack of sustainability. There are eco-conscious alternatives available with significantly reduced environmental footprints. Opting for paper products such as tissues and paper towels with eco-friendly third-party certifications can help set sustainable standards. Look for certification from a reputable organization like the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) to help ensure your paper products align with environmentally responsible practices.

Train and Educate Your Staff

Updating your training program will help prepare cleaning staff for the upcoming cold and flu season. The program should include reminders regarding the appropriate times for cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting. This proactive approach helps ensure your team is equipped to maintain a hygienic environment throughout the flu season. Consider converting the protocols into a digital booklet to provide easy access for everyone while minimizing paper waste.

In addition to training, encourage staff members to take sick leave when needed. Within your training program, establish a clear set of protocols for this situation. These guidelines help reassure staff when they are sick and prepare colleagues to cover for them. This approach helps promote both staff well-being and the overall health of your facility.

Stay Sustainable During This Cold & Flu Season

By implementing best practices within your facility, you actively help promote a healthy and sustainable environment. Equipping your team with the right tools and knowledge is crucial to keeping a hygienic environment throughout the year. Prioritizing sustainability within your facility helps create a healthier, eco-friendly environment during cold and flu season.

Mark Kirchgasser is Vice President of Sales Away from Home, at Sofidel America. He is a 30-year veteran of the tissue industry. Sofidel is a world leader in the manufacture of paper for hygienic and domestic use, including its Papernet brand of sustainable hygiene solutions. For more information, visit www.papernet.com/am.