Professional disinfecting businesses grow during COVID-19 outbreak

SEATTLE - A silver lining to the COVID-19 outbreak is that there is a lot of disinfecting going on. People in homes, schools and businesses are scrambling to clean and disinfect their spaces.

In the professional disinfecting business, business is good right now.

"It's been incredibly busy. It's probably doubled," said Katie Herrick, senior project manager of Crime Scene Cleaners.

The phone is ringing off the hook for Seattle-based Crime Scene Cleaners. As the name suggests, the company does what it says.

They clean up crime scenes, whether it's a suicide, homicide and accidental death. It is a tall order for a company of just six people. But with COVID-19 around, they're the ones that people are calling for help.

"Disinfection is killing everything that`s contagious or dangerous on that surface," said Herrick.

According to Herrick, most of the phone calls they receive now are about COVID-19. They get calls from schools, homes and businesses.

"Local companies with office spaces between 4,000 square footage of office space to 60,000 square footage," said Herrick.

When their employees go into a potentially infected building, they don't go in lightly.

They go in fully suited up with personal protective equipment: things like a respirator mask, impermeable suit, booties and gloves. In most cases, they don't just wear one suit either.

"Five to ten times, just depends how many times you have to use the bathroom," said Herrick.

The weapon they use is a tank and sprayer. The tank is filled with chemicals like sodium hydrochloride or bleach. They can also use hospital-grade hydrogen peroxide. It's stuff you cannot buy in the store. They use hydrogen peroxide 35% solution that they dilute for certain jobs. The chemicals are bought from an industrial supply company.

The procedure is to go into the building and spray the solution and make sure every inch is saturated. The chemical needs to absorb for at least a minute, said Herrick.

The job is a lot of standing, said Herrick.

"If I’m doing a lot of high up stuff, my neck will be tired at the end of the day," she said.

And depending on the job, it can be long hours.

"I mean, nine hours for a crew of two for 4,000 square feet," she said.

But for those who can't afford a professional cleaning service, there is some advice for those looking to disinfect a space.

"The most important thing to do, is to look at the kill claims for that chemical in the back of that product," said Herrick.

But overall, she said to not panic.

"Panicking isn’t going to make you any safer. But washing your hands often and disinfecting everything, will," said Herrick.