What is ‘Deep Cleaning’? Here’s How a Local Business Does it During the Coronavirus Pandemic

Service 1st Restoration worker Nick Hamilton sprays disinfectant throughout the Centric Bank corporate headquarters on March 25, 2020, to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Service 1st works with a number of local corporations by going to their buildings after hours and spraying the buildings.
Sean Simmers / PennLive

Edward Sutelan/PennLive

Nick Hamilton, Adam Copenhaver and Shaun Deimler stood outside the front of the Centric Bank building in Enola by their Service1st Restoration truck when Hamilton noticed the shorts Copenhaver was wearing in the 46-degree weather.

“Aren’t you cold?” Hamilton asked.

“This isn’t too bad,” Copenhaver said. “Besides, have you ever been in one of those suits? It gets hot in there.”

Hamilton said yes, a couple of times before, and moments later, all three were in them again. The trio pulled up their white chemical splash suits, duct-taped gloves on, put on full-face respirators and cinched up the hoods on the suit before walking into the bank.

The three were headed in for a “deep cleaning” of the building, a requested service now being done by many buildings across the state and country in an effort to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus.

“Typically we do a volume application of a botanical disinfectant and then it covers everything. It’s a mist. It’s literally a fog,” Service1st operations manager Sean Humphrey said, noting the similarities to a bug bomb. “It’s like that, but it’s only with a botanical disinfectant. And then any wiping of touchpoints, things like that.”

As concern for the spread of the virus has grown, more businesses are requesting cleanings like the one provided by Service1st in an effort to ensure a healthy and safe environment. Even businesses and buildings that are closed will have them done out of precaution to treat the working areas.

Service1st goes in using a hospital-grade, botanical disinfectant that is sprayed in a mist from several different machines. Copenhaver patrolled the hallways and rooms of the bank wearing a battery-powered backpack that spread the disinfectant, while Deimler and Hamilton carried foggers that plugged into the wall with nozzles to aim the spray.

Humphrey explained the product is FDA-approved and there is no manual drying required, with the mist settling in on anything in the room and providing no danger to anyone who should use it later. According to a press release, the spray is 99.99 percent effective.

It is safe to breathe in the product as it is being sprayed down, with Humphrey noting it will only make people cough or sneeze. The suits the cleaners wear isn’t for protection from the product itself, but rather from anything else that could be in the room.

“We do a Level C [personal protective equipment],” Humphrey said. “The guys that are going to go in that are actually going to do it are going to wear full the same level of a bloodborne pathogen. That’s the protection level we go in for us. Again, it’s presumed we have to for our safety. There might not be anything, but there might be, so we have to treat it like that for our safety.”

As the trio moves through the floors of the bank, spraying every surface they find, they close the doors behind them to make sure they understand they’ve already been there, general manager Rick McBride said. If high-touch areas are requested for specific cleaning, the three will come back with wipes that contain the same spray and wipe them down.

The bank is three floors and McBride said he would expect it to take about two hours for the cleaning to be finished there, whereas branches of the bank might take only 30 to 45 minutes to clean.

In bigger buildings, the foggers are just left to sit and spray the mist into the air, allowing it to come down over all the surfaces in the room. Cubicles, McBride said, are especially easy.

“You can get lost in a building this big,” he said.

Lately, business has been busy for Service1st. More companies are requesting their services and asking for workspaces to be cleaned.

But as businesses shut down, McBride said there will get to be a question of whether some companies will request an immediate cleaning to allow for the space to be clean while no one is in there or just wait until a week remains before the companies reopen to have the group come in and disinfect the area.

For Wednesday, however, the focus is solely on the task at hand: cleaning Centric Bank and its branches. Two more branches will be disinfected Wednesday night and two more will be cleaned on Thursday.

“I can tell you when these employees come back in tomorrow, they’ll smell a much cleaner building,” McBride said.

PennLive and The Patriot-News are partners with PA Post. 

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