Passengers may only be inside an elevator for a few seconds at a time, but it takes just one press of a button to spread germs and illness-causing pathogens. Cleaning and disinfecting your elevators is important now more than ever as we continue on in the midst of a pandemic. Continue reading for tips and best practices to keep you and your passengers safe.


Clean vs. Disinfect 

It might seem self-explanatory but it’s important to clarify the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. 

Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects by using chemicals. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

There’s also sanitizing, which lowers the number of germs to a safe level determined by public health standards. This process works by either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to lower the risk of spreading infection.


Self-Cleaning Buttons: Do They Work? 

The simple, easy to install self-cleaning elevator buttons have become pretty popular during the pandemic. The question is: do they really work? Unfortunately, there’s just not enough research yet to verify this. The self-cleaning technology breaks down organic matter on surfaces and is convenient for high-traffic buildings. However, you still need to properly clean and disinfect the buttons and other surfaces to ensure a safe and clean elevator.


Did You Know?

Elevators are the most frequently used form of motorized transportation in the world and therefore also one of the most contaminated areas in your building. Did you know that the amount of bacteria on a commercial elevator button is nearly 40x higher than on a public toilet seat? 

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How often you should clean your elevator depends on the type of building you own or manage. If you have several elevators in a high-traffic building, you may want to clean and disinfect them on a daily basis. If you have a single elevator in a smaller building, a weekly cleaning could be sufficient. (Medical facilities are excluded, as they should be continuously disinfected during the day). 

Also consider the season and climate. Your elevators may need more attention during flu season or if another illness is circulating. Germs can stick around for longer than we may think. According to the World Health Organization, viruses can live on surfaces for up to a few hours to several days — the exact time will depend on the type of surface. In this instance, frequent disinfecting is key to prevent the spread of the virus.


Best Practices 

Here are some tips that will help keep your elevators clean. After cleaning/disinfecting and while the elevator is drying, you may want to temporarily shut it down to avoid foot traffic.

  • Always clean surfaces before using disinfecting products.
  • Review the elevator manufacturer’s guidelines for cleaning. Some surfaces could become damaged if you use the wrong solution. 
  • Disinfect surfaces even if they may not be considered high-touch areas. Germs and bacteria can land anywhere in an elevator — doors, floors, wall panels, etc. 
  • Don’t use sponges when cleaning or disinfecting. They can collect bacteria.
  • Never spray chemicals directly on to an elevator surface. Spray the solution on to a fresh paper towel or a clean microfiber cloth and then wipe down the surface. Spraying chemicals directly onto a surface could cause electrical damage.
  • Never shake out dirty items before cleaning them (rugs, drapes, etc.). This could spread dirt and bacteria throughout the air.