Is Deep Cleaning Just ‘Hygiene Theater' in the Age of COVID?

NBC Universal, Inc.

We've all seen the businesses advertising deep cleaning, disinfectant spray-downs and other visually impressive measures to try to stop the spread of COVID-19. But is some of it actually "hygiene theater" — just to make people feel safer?

"The virus and the entire pandemic has created a psychological impact — making people, businesses, think that we might need deep cleaning and thorough cleaning," said Padma Bheri, the director of quality, safety and regulation at Marlborough Hospital.

She says as experts learned more about the transmission of COVID-19, that type of deep cleaning became less necessary.

Bheri says being smart about cleaning, personal hygiene and mask-wearing is more effective.

"Wear your mask, do the hand-washing, and of course you can do the regular cleaning, but you don't need — every object, every inch, every surface need not be cleaned," said Bheri.

At Perrone's Barber Shop in Shrewsbury, a clean cut is just as important as cleaning up between customers.

"We're taking their temperature as soon as they come through the door," said barber Debbie Perrone. "We spray down the seat after they leave, wipe it down."

And customers say those smaller, more targeted cleaning regimens have become more important as our understanding of the virus evolves.

"I don't think you need to go overboard, but I think it's a personal thing," said Brian Dugan of Shrewsbury. "It's personal hygiene, washing the hands and wearing the mask, because it's a respiratory spread disease."

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