The Coronavirus Pandemic has affected millions of people around the world putting their work and daily lives on hold. Meanwhile, the number of coronavirus cases and deaths continues a steep upward trend with no immediate end in sight. There is still much we don’t know about COVID-19 especially for those who work in the general industry, but researchers at the CDC have provided good guidelines for the American people to start. The CDC has recommendations for employers on the cleaning and disinfection of rooms and areas of those with suspected or with confirmed COVID-19 symptoms. These recommendations are continuously changing as the situation continues to unfold.

Cleaning and Disinfection for Facilities

At a Facility that does not house people overnight:

  • The CDC recommends closing off areas used by ill persons and waiting as long as practical before beginning cleaning and disinfection. This is to minimize exposure to droplets; this can be done with ventilation to maximize circulation of the space.
  • If possible, wait up to 24 hours before beginning cleaning and disinfection.
  • Cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all areas (e.g., offices, bathrooms, and common areas) used by the ill persons, focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces.

At a facility that does house people overnight:

  • The CDC recommends closing off areas used by ill persons and waiting as long as practical before beginning cleaning and disinfection. This is to minimize exposure to droplets; this can be done with ventilation to maximize circulation of the space.
  • In areas where ill persons are being housed in isolation, follow Interim Guidance for Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection for U.S. Households with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019.
  • Focus on cleaning and disinfecting common areas where staff/others providing services may encounter ill persons but reducing cleaning and disinfection of bedrooms/bathrooms used by ill persons to as be needed.

As the CDC recommended by following these guidelines the first response of a potential COVID-19 exposure can be minimized. The CDC doesn’t stop there; it also provides information on how to clean and disinfect different surfaces. This can increase decontamination of areas significantly.

Guidelines for Cleaning Hard Surfaces

  • Make sure the surfaces are clear of any debris by washing with soap or detergent prior to disinfection.
  • For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
    • Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface.
  • Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
    • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or
    • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
  • This list of products is expected to be effective against COVID-19 based on data for viruses which are harder to kill

Guidelines for Cleaning Soft Surfaces

  • For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes, remove visible contamination if present and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces. After cleaning:

Guidelines for Cleaning Linens, Clothing, and Other Items

  • Do not shake dirty laundry; this minimizes the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.
  • Wash items as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.
  • Clean and disinfect hampers or other carts for transporting laundry according to guidance above for hard or soft surfaces.

Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 in households and industrial settings. By practicing routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces with the designated EPA-registered disinfectants employers minimize their risk. The next most effective preventative measure is the use of the correct PPE followed by hand hygiene. However, the demand for proper PPE has created a shortage of all types of PPE used by medical first responders. If possible, social distancing should be used in place of PPE by all non-medical personnel.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and Hand Hygiene

  • Cleaning staff should wear disposable gloves and gowns for all tasks in the cleaning process, including handling trash.
    • Gloves and gowns should be compatible with the disinfectant products being used.
    • Additional PPE might be required based on the cleaning/disinfectant products being used and whether there is a risk of splash. Especially for acid or bleach-based cleaners.
  • Gloves should be removed after cleaning a room or area occupied by ill persons. Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed.
  • Cleaning staff should immediately report breaches in PPE (e.g., tear in gloves) or any potential exposures to their supervisor.
  • Cleaning staff and others should clean hands often, including immediately after removing gloves and after contact with an ill person, by washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains 60%-95% alcohol may be used. However, if hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap and water.
  • Follow normal preventive actions while at work and home, including cleaning hands and avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
    • Additional key times to clean hands include:
      • After blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing
      • After using the restroom
      • Before eating or preparing food
      • After contact with animals or pets
      • Before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance (e.g., a child)