Cleaning and Disinfecting During and After a Pandemic
*This document is intended for facilities outside the health care industry.
With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to review and update policies for cleaning and disinfecting your facility, equipment and vehicles. It is recommended that you increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces, which may include door pushes, handles, touchpads, elevator buttons, faucets, sinks and electronic devices, as well as common areas, such as entryways, lobbies, hallways and restrooms. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers steps for properly cleaning and disinfecting facilities.
If infected persons have been in your facility, the CDC provides additional considerations:
- Close off areas visited by the infected persons. Wait 24 hours (or as long as practical) before cleaning and disinfecting.
- Cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all areas and high-touch surfaces.
- Additional cleaning/disinfecting may not be necessary if more than seven days have passed since the infected persons have visited or used your facility or vehicles.
How to Clean and Disinfect
Hard (Non-porous) Surfaces
Non-porous surfaces should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
- The EPA provides a list of disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2, commonly known as coronavirus, the virus that causes COVID-19. This list outlines appropriate contact times (amount of time surface should be visibly wet) and surface types on which approved disinfectants may be used.
- Note that new cleaning products should be used as instructed, with appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves. Make sure employees are properly educated on how to safely remove and dispose of PPE.
- Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application, ensuring a contact time of at least one minute and allowing proper ventilation during and after application. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date and never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser as the mixture can create hazardous vapors.
When cleaning and disinfecting soft (porous) surfaces like carpets, drapes and other woven fabrics, first clean these surfaces with soap and water or other suitable cleaners. Avoid shaking drapes to make sure you do not make the virus airborne. Then, if possible, launder these items following the manufacturer’s directions. When laundering items, use the warmest water setting appropriate for the items and dry completely. Otherwise, use EPA-registered disinfectants for SARS-CoV-2 for porous surfaces.
Clean and disinfect electronics regularly, especially if they have been used by an infected person. Electronic devices may include cell phones, tablets, touchscreens, keyboards, remote controls and ATMs. Remember to focus on frequently touched surfaces. When cleaning and disinfecting electronics – both shared and personal – follow the manufacturer’s instructions on appropriate products to use. If there are no cleaning and disinfecting guidelines provided by the manufacturer, consider using disinfectant products such as wipes or sprays with at least 70 percent alcohol.
Develop and consistently follow cleaning and disinfection procedures for vehicles, with a focus on commonly touched surfaces. Conduct these procedures at the beginning and end of each driver’s shift. Maintain adequate ventilation of the vehicle while cleaning and disinfecting. Refer to the sections on PPE and hand hygiene below.
- Where visible dirt is present, first use a soap and water solution to clean hard non-porous surfaces within the vehicle. Examples of these surfaces include seats, armrests, door handles, seat belt buckles, light and air controls, doors, windows and grab handles. Following the cleaning, utilize EPA-registered disinfectant products that have qualified for use against SARS-CoV-2, and that are suitable for the material. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions regarding concentration, application method and contact time for all disinfectants.
- For seats and other porous materials, first remove visible contamination and clean with appropriate products indicated for use. After cleaning, disinfect with EPA-registered products.
Wash or sanitize hands immediately after cleaning and disinfecting, removing gloves or other PPE, or coming into contact with an infected person. To thoroughly wash hands, use soap and water for 20 seconds. When washing hands is not possible, and as long as hands are not visibly dirty, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer made of at least 60 percent alcohol. Other key times to clean hands are after coughing, sneezing, blowing your nose or using the restroom; prior to preparing food or eating; or after public visits or interactions.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
It is important to develop and implement procedures and policies that address the use of PPE.
- Require cleaning staff to wear disposable gloves and, in some cases, disposable coveralls/clothing for cleaning and disinfection processes, including handling trash.
- Ensure PPE materials are compatible with the disinfectant and/or cleaning products being used.
- Follow manufacturer recommendations for additional PPE requirements.
- Remove gloves and disposable clothing carefully and dispose of them properly to prevent contamination of the wearer or surrounding areas. Perform hand hygiene following the removal of gloves.
- For example, wear goggles or face shields in addition to safety glasses if there is a splash risk.
- Coveralls, aprons or work uniforms can be worn if disposable clothing is not available. Launder washable (reusable) clothing following use and frequently perform hand hygiene after handling laundry.
Additional Considerations for Employers
- Work with your local and state health departments to ensure you are following appropriate guidance and protocols for COVID-19.
- Prior to conducting cleaning or disinfecting tasks, develop policies and provide training to staff. Training should cover topics including when to use PPE, what PPE is needed, how to properly put on and remove PPE, and how to properly dispose of PPE.
- Review the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) standards covering Hazard Communication and Bloodborne Pathogens for additional requirements that may apply in your specific case.
More Prepare & Prevent
Whether you transport cargo or have employees driving regularly for work, some adjustments are likely as you respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and adapt to new ways of doing business.
Employers need to protect the physical safety of employees returning to work, as well as the emotional and social health.