Let’s talk about wipes

In news that will not shock you, disinfecting wipes have been hard to come by this year. And although the shortage isn’t as bad as it was in March and April, stock levels are still hit and miss. Manufacturers are still struggling to keep up with overwhelming demand. So, as COVID cases start to rise again and we all look for ways to help slow the spread, what are you supposed to do to keep your office safe? Let’s look at some alternatives to that hard-to-come-by canister of wipes.

The first thing we should talk about is vocabulary. Seems like a weird tangent, I know. But people tend to confuse or misuse the words used to describe different wipes. They aren’t really the same thing. Cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting actually have specific meanings in the world of wipes:

  • Cleaning means that the wipe is designed to remove dirt or spills from surfaces. So, if you just want to wipe up the salsa you spilled on the breakroom counter, all you need is a cleaning wipe. You won’t get much germ-busting power though. The act of rubbing the surface will remove some germs, but not a high percentage.
  • Sanitizing means that the wipe will remove and kill germs from surfaces. It does not remove all germs, but it does lower the number of germs to a level considered safe by public health standards. This will lower the risk of spreading infection in your workplace.
  • Disinfecting means that it kills germs on surfaces. When you see the starburst on the package that says “Kills 99.9% of germs,” that’s disinfecting. Disinfecting wipes aren’t meant for cleaning. In fact, most of them require that the surface be cleaned before use. It’s also important to follow the instructions for “dwell time” – the amount of time you have to leave the liquid on the surface for it to work effectively. For many disinfecting wipes or sprays, it takes 30 seconds or more for the disinfectant to work. If you wipe the surface dry immediately after use, you won’t kill all of the germs.

Once you know what kind of wipe you’re looking for, it’s time to talk alternatives. Like we said earlier, it’s going to be a while before those familiar tubs of wipes are consistently available again. There are three main options that are available. Let’s look at them.

1. Ready-made wipes

Some ready-to-use wipes are available, they just aren’t in the packaging you’re used to. Instead of using plastic canisters, many manufacturers like Lysol and Clorox are selling wipes in flat packs. The new packaging looks more like a diaper wipe package, but the wipes inside are the same ones you’re used to. Ready-made wipes are also being sold in larger quantities. Large buckets of 500 wipes or more are more readily available. Since you’re wiping down all of your surfaces more often it shouldn’t take you all that long to go through them.

2. DIY wipes

If you’re having trouble finding ready-made wipes, you can always make your own. Think of it as a science project for your workplace. All you need is chemical-ready dry wipes, a jug of the appropriate chemical, and a dispensing bucket. Combine and wipe! Just make sure that you choose a dry wipe that’s made to be used with chemicals (We can help with that!) and then choose the right chemical for the job you’re doing – cleaning, sanitizing, or disinfecting (we can help with that, too).

3. Wipers and sprays

It may be hard to remember, but we didn’t always have wipes. They’re more of a convenience than a necessity. We used to get a spray cleaner or disinfectant and a paper towel when we needed to clean up, and that’s still an option. There are lots of strong paper wipes available. Use those with a spray bottle of disinfectant and you’ll kill just as many germs as you would with a wipe. Just remember to allow for the appropriate dwell time so that you kill all of the nasty germs that you can.

If you’ve been worried about how to keep your workspace germ-free, give us a call. We’ll be happy to talk to you about your needs and the alternatives that might work best for you. Let’s work together to slow the spread of COVID and get our community back to normal!