Cleaning & Disinfecting
Cleaning & Disinfeciton Guidelines
The Centers for Disease Control has issued general cleaning and disinfection guidelines for all Americans, whether they are cleaning or disinfecting a home, office, or classroom. Performed in conjunction with other pandemic control measures such as social distancing, facemasks, and handwashing, cleaning and disinfecting is a vital element of public health strategy to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. This page will help you develop your cleaning and disinfection plan, implement it, and maintain and revise it.
Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and other impurities from a surface. While it does not eliminate the germs, removing them reduces the amount of germs and the potential to spread infection.
Disinfecting is the process of using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. Disinfecting is not synonymous with cleaning, however, and should be performed after a surface has been cleaned.
By routinely cleaning with soap and water, you can actively decrease the amount of COVID-19 on surfaces and objects, thus reducing exposure risks. Utilizing disinfectants that have been approved by the EPA for COVID-19 will also help reduce risk. Surfaces and objects that are touched by several people need to be disinfected frequently.
Things to Remember When Developing Your COVID-19 Cleaning/Disinfection Plan
- The virus will naturally die within hours or days in some cases
- Disinfectants should be stored and used appropriately. Bleach should not be mixed with other products as it can cause fumes that may be dangerous to breathe in. Always keep your disinfectants out of reach of children.
- Disinfectants or other cleaning supplies should not be overused or stockpiled. It is important to avoid causing shortages in supplies.
- When disinfecting, always wear the appropriate gloves for the chemicals you are using. Depending on where this is being done, more PPE could be needed.
- If staff will be involved in cleaning or disinfecting your facility, ensure considerations about their safety are included in your plan of action. It is essential that these workers have access to the appropriate PPE needed to effectively perform their duties while mitigating their risk of exposure.
Building Your Cleaning & Disinfection Plan
Consider Your Environment
When developing a cleaning and disinfection plan, consider the workplace, home, classroom, or business where it will be implemented. What types of surfaces, materials, and objects make up the area? Objects and surfaces that are not frequently touched will just need normal routine cleaning. Frequently touched or handled surfaces will need to be both cleaned and disinfected.
Consider if the area you will be occupying is outdoors. Usually, routine cleaning will be sufficient for an outdoor area and disinfection is not necessary. In fact, using disinfectant in these outdoor areas is an inefficient way to use supplies and has not been shown to slow the spread of COVID-19. You can efficiently use disinfectants outdoors on hard surfaces that are frequently touched. Other businesses that operate outdoors may have further requirements.
Can You Improve Your Environment to Reduce Risk?
Are there objects you could move or removed entirely so multiple people cannot handle them or come into contact with them? Materials and surfaces that are soft and porous are difficult to clean and disinfect. If possible, remove and store these soft surfaces. As we move further into reopening, these cleaning and disinfecting plans need to be maintained. Be flexible with your plans, and plan to alter it as more guidance is provided.
Disinfection Precautions - Children
Generally, do not use disinfectants on items used by children, especially if a child may put that object in their mouth. Maany disinfectants are toxic when ingested. Using soap and water on these objects is enough. However, if it is an object that multiple children may be handling, it is better to remove it from the environment whenever possible.
What Needs to be Disinfected and How?
Examine Your Surfaces & Objects
Every home, business, or classroom will have varying types of surfaces and objects that are touched frequently. Here are some examples of objects or surfaces are frequently touched and will require routine disinfection:
- Tables, countertops, desks
- Doorknobs, light switches, handles
- Phones, keyboards, touch screens
- Toilets, faucets, sinks
Whenever possible, remove and store soft porous materials or surfaces like rugs or carpet. There are limited types of disinfectants that can be used on soft or porous materials. If soft or porous object is not frequently handled, clean and launder it appropriately with the warmest water possible.
Determine the Disinfection Requirements of Your Environment
If an area has been unoccupied for at least 7 days, only regular cleaning is necessary. It has been shown that COVID-19 cannot survive on surfaces longer than this time.
Consult EPA’s list of approved products for use against COVID-19 . Using this list, you an determine what disinfectant to use for particular surfaces or objects.
Consider Your Supply of Cleaning & Disinfection Products
Always keep in mind if what cleaning and disinfection supplies you have on hand. It is vital to maintain the continuous execution of your cleaning and disinfection plan. Maintaining your supplies is key. Stauffer can help you determine what cleaning and disinfection supplies are appropriate for you.
Implement Your Plan!
Now that you have a plan developed, it is time to start using it. Remember to clean any dirty surface, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, wear the appropriate PPE, and always follow the directions on the disinfectant labels. Stay vigilant in maintaining, revising, and sticking to your plan. Keep disinfectant products away from children.
Cleaning and disinfection is a vital safe behavioral practice. Maintaining the use of a cleaning and disinfection plan, when done correctly and in conjunction with other behavioral practices will help reduce the spread of this pandemic.