In an online interview, Tatjana Ahmed, Chairperson, UAE Professional Housekeepers Group, and Housekeeping Manager, Grand Hyatt Dubai, talks about how the concept of washroom hygiene has changed during the pandemic, and what housekeepers must do to ensure optimum hygiene.
Deep cleaning of washrooms
Nowadays it is very important that proper deep cleaning is carried out. This is not only the remov-al of debris and dust but the elimination of bacteria and possible viruses as well. Housekeepers might consider using different equipment for this. Dry steam cleaners will help remove bacteria and and other pathogens. Steam will penetrate into the deepest pores of the surfaces ensuring that they are absolutely clean. Steam can be used with a certified disinfectant as well. Steam cleaning is kind to the budget because it uses very little water and chemical. Once deep cleaning is completed - it is important to carry out misting to ensure any areas missed out are covered and enough dwell time is given to remove any pathogens.
Key touch points
Anything you touch when you go into the bathroom - the door handle, toilet flush button, toilet roll holder, faucets, light switches, etc., are high touch points. We use color-coded microfibre and spray the sanitizer on the cloth and never on the surface and wipe down surfaces when required.
Ideally, the washroom should be checked and sanitized every half an hour. But this really depends on the traffic and the kind of washroom. If it is the lobby washroom it has to be cleaned more of-ten because it is frequently visited. This may not be the case with restaurant washrooms. But, now in Dubai, we have gone back to the basics with the checklist behind the door and we have to tick every task completed as proof that it was carried out. Deep cleaning and misting is carried out in every washroom in the night.
The government is quite specific; PPE is important - as it its disposal - there have to be separate bins with liners for PPE disposal. The government also mandates that everything in the washroom be sensor based and touchless. Cotton towels are no more in use - disposables are the need of the hour. And of course documentation of the frequency of cleaning tools and solutions used, etc need to be communicated to them.
Disinfecting during turndown and between guests
Guests are not so keen anymore on too much service because they don’t want too many people entering the room while they are staying. So service is only performed on request. When that happens, we ensure that the guest is not in the room - so as to maintain social distancing.
Also, each room has its own set of microfibre cloth to prevent any cross contamination. Deep cleaning takes place between occupation - moreover, each room - after it is vacated and deep cleaned - must be vacant for 48 hours as per protocol. And with the current occupancy rates, it is absolutely possible.
Changes in training and HSE
We train all our staff on how to interact with our guests while wearing appropriate PPE. It has be-come even more important nowadays that we make the guests feel comfortable and at home. With a mask doing that isn’t so easy - so our personnel require some training in the gestures to use, etc. Apart from this, we train them every single day on health and safety, using PPE, the kind of chemicals to use, their applications, how to keep cleaning tools separate, etc. So as you see, training is ongoing and as soon as we get new directions from Dubai Municipality and the Dubai Health Authority, we immediately brief our staff so they are on the same page.
Effective cleaning tools
Steam cleaners are very important and a very good investment. And we have moved away from the mop and bucket because they come with a risk of cross contamination. Instead, we use differ-ently-sized scrubber driers within the hotel. The mop and bucket is allotted to the garden and car park. All our cleaning products are Dubai Municipality approved. And it helps to have multifunctional products. For instance we use one that sanitizes, descales and deodorizes all at the same time.
Testing cleaning efficacy
We use black lights to detect biological stains in the bathroom - urine, blood, saliva. This helps us understand touch points and how much more cleaning is required. Another gadget is one that checks the bacterial count of any surface using a swab test. You take a swab of the surface, put it on the assigned place on the monitor and get the result within 15 seconds! This helps especially when it comes to seeing whether a sanitiser has been effectively used in cleaning.
I think the biggest challenge is keeping up with the virus. A lot of new research brings new results and several new protocols. Training our staff in the same requires time. And they need adequate time to fulfill the requirements - this includes cleaning frequency, dwell time for chemicals, under-standing misting procedures, handling PPE and disposing it off properly. It is very important to provide cleaning personnel with the right products necessary for them to carry out cleaning!