Classroom Disinfecting Tips For Teachers
The pandemic brought so many challenges for our entire world, but teachers, and childcare employees, were definitely among those most impacted! From pivoting to virtual school to an increased (and ever-changing) protocol for safety and cleaning in the classroom, it’s been overwhelming and stressful to say the least. Teachers have taken on a lot of the disinfecting and cleaning protocols for the classroom as well and, while disinfecting is an important part of protecting ourselves and our students from COVID-19, the increased exposure to disinfectants increases the health risks associated with the toxic chemicals so many of them contain. These health concerns apply even more so to kids, because children are disproportionately impacted by environmental toxins in 3 ways:
- Because children are smaller than we are, they breathe, eat & drink 3 times as much per pound of body weight as adults.
- Their typical behaviors like sitting and playing on the floor expose them to more risk.
- Their body systems (respiratory, endocrine, nervous) are still developing.
Luckily, there’s a solution: Force of Nature is a powerful disinfectant that is EPA approved for use against COVID-19, and yet gentle enough to use in the classroom, for virtually any cleaning or disinfecting need! Here are our top tips for classroom disinfecting.
Cleaning and Disinfecting 101
Pop Quiz! Do you know the difference between cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting? If not, we’ve got you covered – in fact, we wrote an entire post on this topic alone. For those interested in the TLDR: disinfectants are products that have been tested, approved and registered as antimicrobial pesticides by the EPA for killing 99.9% of specific viruses and bacteria on surfaces. While a product may both sanitize and disinfect, there are no sanitizer-only products with approved virus claims. The definition of sanitizing is only a reduction of germs to a “safe” level as defined by public health standards, whereas the definition and criteria for disinfectants is much more stringent. Disinfectants must kill 99.9% of a specified range of pathogens within a specified amount of time.
A Note About Disinfectant Safety
We have a lot of resources available and have written extensively about this topic, but it is important to note that disinfectants are tested for their effectiveness at killing specific microbes on surfaces if the directions are followed exactly. Many of the individual ingredients have not been tested in terms of their safety for human health, so consumers can’t assume that because it is on the shelf at the grocery store that it is safe to come into contact with their skin, eyes and respiratory systems. Force of Nature’s active antimicrobial ingredient is Hypochlorous acid, an extremely powerful disinfectant. Hypochlorous acid is as effective as bleach, but safe enough to be used in veterinary, ophthalmology and wound care applications. Force of Nature is gentle enough to be rated 100% skin-safe and best for sensitive skin by SkinSAFE, Mayo Clinic’s allergy rating system.
Top Tips for Safe & Effective Classroom Disinfecting
Disinfecting On Surfaces
The fact is: disinfectants need to be used according to manufacturer directions and wearing the appropriate protective gear like masks and gloves. Disinfectants have a specific dwell time, or the amount of time a disinfectant must sit on a surface before it’s rinsed or wiped, so if you’re wiping something down and handing it to the next student, that surface may still contain the germs you’re trying to kill – and now that child is exposed to a potentially caustic and harmful substance.
Kids especially should never come into contact with disinfecting wipes like Lysol wipes due to their sensitivity to extremely toxic disinfecting chemicals like sodium hypochlorite (bleach) and quaternary ammonium compound (quats).
The good news is that Force of Nature is an EPA-registered disinfectant that kills 99.9% of viruses and bacteria and is included on the EPA’s List N of disinfectants approved for use against SARS-CoV-2. You can disinfect virtually any surface and learning materials in your classroom with Force of Nature, with no need to rinse including:
- Easels and art areas
- Classroom Pet Environments
- Classroom and lesson materials
- Kitchen and snack prep items
- Bathroom surfaces and door and drawer handles
- Diaper changing areas and diaper pails
- Trash cans and recycling bins
Disinfecting High Touch Areas
There are certain areas in the classroom that are touched more frequently than others, making them high touch areas. Force of Nature is gentle enough to use on high-touch surfaces without the need for rinsing or protective gear like gloves or masks. Some areas to focus on are:
- Door handles
- Drawer and cabinet pulls
- Cubby areas
- Water cooler or fountain
- Shared technology like computers and tablets – always spray a cloth first, never spray on electronics directly!
And, while handwashing is always best, in a pinch or on-the-go, Force of Nature is gentle enough to clean your hands. Certified as SkinSafe by the Mayo Clinic, Force of Nature is free of top allergens.
At Force of Nature, we’re parents, too. We’re beyond grateful for our children’s teachers and caregivers and are well aware of how often these professionals go above and beyond to provide care and support that is outside of their job description. We’re proud to have created a product that is effective for use in the classroom to keep teachers and students safe from sickness-causing germs, without exposure to the harmful chemicals in so many conventional cleaning products. At a time when we’re disinfecting in such high quantities, we need to be more selective than ever about the chemicals we’re exposing ourselves to. Visit our blog for more ideas and resources for disinfecting at work and at home, and learn more about our revolutionary device.