How to clean the White House in 5 Hours or Less

January 19, 2021
min read

White House Turnover Overview

The changing of the White House living and working space typically focuses on lighter storylines surrounding topics such as the new furniture, design, and installation of esteemed historical artifacts.  Traditionally, the transfer includes meetings with the outgoing and incoming administrations, including First Ladies, to ensure the physical moving experience is seamless and efficient. As the United States presidential leadership changes hands in the midst of a global pandemic, many are wondering how to make the White House clean for the incoming staff.  Cleaning the White House has never been a more critical part of this historical ritual

In any inauguration, the White House changeover process takes place in just 5 hours, as the ceremony itself unfolds before millions of eyes physically and virtually at the U.S. Capitol.  This year, this turnover period may even be shorter due to the circumstances surrounding the inauguration. Cleaning is always part of the government change-over process, and the importance of cleaning the White House during COVID-19 makes the changing of administrations all the more complex.  

How does the White House get a deep clean? 

COVID-19 is a bio-aerosol, which means it spreads when an infected person breathes, talks, coughs, or sneezes. These droplets hover in the air before settling onto surfaces. 

With the possibility of the droplets spreading so easily, it is essential to regularly clean and disinfect high traffic areas.  A key area of focus as the Trump Administration makes way for the Biden Administration is the West Wing.  It is in the West Wing where most of the political business is conducted within the White House.  Since its construction by President Theodore Roosevelt in 1902 and through several expansions and renovations, the West Wing is the President’s workplace.  Today, the West Wing is where the Situation Room, the Cabinet Room, the Rose Garden, the Press Room, and, perhaps most importantly, the Oval Office are all located, among several other key government gathering areas.

With the health and safety of United States leaders and staff of utmost importance, especially during the pandemic, many cleaning protocols have been in place for months, not just in the West Wing, but also in the Executive Residences, all corners of the White House and throughout all of Washington D.C.’s government offices.  It has been reported that a regular disinfectant “misting” has been in place since the Fall in the White House.  

In the case of changing shifts, or, in the case of the White House, changing administrations, a deeper clean is advised to ensure safety for the incoming workers. When co-Founder & CEO of Jitjatjo, Tim Chatfield, spoke with Inside Edition about how to keep the White House clean & safe as the Biden Administration moves in, he shared that the cleaning equipment and technology to be used at the White House is the same equipment and technology Jitjatjo uses for every CleanDisinfect assignment.  Interestingly, this is also the same equipment used by United Airlines to keep travelers safe on planes.  A machine like this could disinfect the 55,000 square feet of the White House very quickly.  However, the forensic level of cleaning is what takes a bit more time, which is why White House cleaners will likely use as much time as possible during the 5-hour transition.

Businesses may vary slightly in their approach to cleaning offices and living space.  Jitjatjo’s CleanDisinfect approach is centered on supplying on-demand, certified cleaners to retailers, restaurants, hotels, schools, hospitals, government authorities, and more as they plan to reopen or change shifts.  While Jitjatjo is not cleaning the White House, the steps to cleaning anywhere and its talent-base of COVID-19-accredited cleaners, janitors/custodians, and disinfection technicians are available to help businesses meet new health and sanitation standards in accordance with state and local guidelines.  Jitjatjo’s CleanDisinfect 3-Step process to properly disinfect a business is: Clean, Disinfect, Protect.  

Clean: A team of accredited professionals will start by performing a forensic cleaning of the facility from top to bottom and corner to corner.

Disinfect: Using EPA N-Listed, hospital-grade disinfectants, the team will treat every inch of the facility.

Protect: Once clean and disinfected, the team will then apply an anti-microbial coating to create an invisible barrier that will work to inhibit the growth of bacteria, viruses, and other germs.

During the “Clean” phase, Chatfield asserts that, while plain soap might not seem like much, it’s an incredibly powerful part of the overall process. Soap works by sticking to bacteria and viruses on a molecular level and then attaching to water for easy removal of harmful materials from surfaces, including COVID-19.  Teams cleaning the White House will likely utilize this basic product for overall cleaning. 

Up next is the “Disinfect” phase, when the Jitjatjo team utilizes EPA N-listed, hospital-grade disinfectants in the EMIST 360. These products contain chemicals that destroy viruses and bacteria’s structure on a cellular level, effectively making them harmless.  The exact disinfectant likely varies between businesses, but it is likely that the disinfectant used at the White House is the same as what Jitjatjo teams use because key Biden administration leaders would apply the same stringent health and safety requirements as with any products used in this important location.

The final step of the CleanDisinfect process is “Protect”.  With all surfaces scrubbed clean and the disinfectants sprayed to eliminate any germs or viruses, White House cleaners will want to ensure the Biden administration and its staff are kept safe as long as possible.  An anti-microbial coating will likely be applied to all surfaces, or at least the high-touch areas to prolong the safety of those utilizing the space.  This is likely to include door handles, desks, and countertops.  

As the Biden administration has taken a proactive stance aligned with CDC and top health experts, it is likely that there will be many eyes and minds on ensuring a safe transition of administrations on Inauguration Day 2021. 


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