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COVID-19: Safety Tips for You

Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility

Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility

Everyday Steps, Steps When Someone is Sick, and Considerations for Employers

Updated April 28, 2020

 

How to clean and disinfect

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Clean
  • Wear disposable gloves to clean and disinfect.
  • Clean surfaces using soap and water, then use disinfectant.
  • Cleaning with soap and water reduces number of germs, dirt and impurities on the surface. Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces.
  • Practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces.
    • More frequent cleaning and disinfection may be required based on level of use.
    • Surfaces and objects in public places, such as shopping carts and point of sale keypads should be cleaned and disinfected before each use.
  • High touch surfaces include:
    • Tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, sinks, etc.
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Disinfect
  • Recommend use of EPA-registered household disinfectantexternal icon.
    Follow the instructions on the label to ensure safe and effective use of the product.
    Many products recommend:
    • Keeping surface wet for a period of time (see product label).
    • Precautions such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.

Always read and follow the directions on the label to ensure safe and effective use.

  • Wear skin protection and consider eye protection for potential splash hazards
  • Ensure adequate ventilation
  • Use no more than the amount recommended on the label
  • Use water at room temperature for dilution (unless stated otherwise on the label)
  • Avoid mixing chemical products
  • Label diluted cleaning solutions
  • Store and use chemicals out of the reach of children and pets

You should never eat, drink, breathe or inject these products into your body or apply directly to your skin as they can cause serious harm. Do not wipe or bathe pets with these products or any other products that are not approved for animal use.

See EPA’s 6 steps for Safe and Effective Disinfectant Useexternal icon

  • Diluted household bleach solutions may also be used if appropriate for the surface.
    • Check the label to see if your bleach is intended for disinfection and has a sodium hypochlorite concentration of 5%–6%. Ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Some bleaches, such as those designed for safe use on colored clothing or for whitening may not be suitable for disinfection.
    • Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
      Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.
      Leave solution on the surface for at least 1 minute.

      To make a bleach solution, mix:
    • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of room temperature water
      OR
    • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of room temperature water
  • Bleach solutions will be effective for disinfection up to 24 hours.
  • Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol may also be used.
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Soft surfaces

For soft surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes

  • Clean the surface using soap and water or with cleaners appropriate for use on these surfaces.
  • Launder items (if possible) according to the manufacturer’s instructions.Use the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely.

    OR

  • Disinfect with an EPA-registered household disinfectant. These disinfectantsexternal icon meet EPA’s criteria for use against COVID-19.
  • Vacuum as usual.
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Electronics

For electronics, such as tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and ATM machines

  • Consider putting a wipeable cover on electronics.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instruction for cleaning and disinfecting.
    • If no guidance, use alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol. Dry surface thoroughly.
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Laundry

For clothing, towels, linens and other items

  • Launder items according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest appropriate water setting and dry items completely.
  • Wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry from a person who is sick.
  • Dirty laundry from a person who is sick can be washed with other people’s items.
  • Do not shake dirty laundry.
  • Clean and disinfect clothes hampers according to guidance above for surfaces.
  • Remove gloves, and wash hands right away.
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Cleaning and disinfecting your building or facility if someone is sick
  • Close off areas used by the person who is sick.
    • Companies do not necessarily need to close operations, if they can close off affected areas.
  • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.
  • Wait 24 hours before you clean or disinfect. If 24 hours is not feasible, wait as long as possible.
  • Clean and disinfect all areas used by the person who is sick, such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment like tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and ATM machines.
  • Vacuum the space if needed. Use vacuum equipped with high-efficiency particular air (HEPA) filter, if available.
    • Do not vacuum a room or space that has people in it. Wait until the room or space is empty to vacuum, such as at night, for common spaces, or during the day for private rooms.
    • Consider temporarily turning off room fans and the central HVAC system that services the room or space, so that particles that escape from vacuuming will not circulate throughout the facility.
  • Once area has been appropriately disinfected, it can be opened for use.
    • Workers without close contact with the person who is sick can return to work immediately after disinfection.
  • If more than 7 days since the person who is sick visited or used the facility, additional cleaning and disinfection is not necessary.
    • Continue routing cleaning and disinfection. This includes everyday practices that businesses and communities normally use to maintain a healthy environment.
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Cleaning and disinfecting outdoor areas
  • Outdoor areas, like playgrounds in schools and parks generally require normal routine cleaning, but do not require disinfection.
    • Do not spray disinfectant on outdoor playgrounds- it is not an efficient use of supplies and is not proven to reduce risk of COVID-19 to the public.
    • High touch surfaces made of plastic or metal, such as grab bars and railings should be cleaned routinely.
    • Cleaning and disinfection of wooden surfaces (play structures, benches, tables) or groundcovers (mulch, sand) is not recommended.
  • Sidewalks and roads should not be disinfected.
    • Spread of COVID-19 from these surfaces is very low and disinfection is not effective.
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When cleaning
  • Regular cleaning staff can clean and disinfect community spaces.
    • Ensure they are trained on appropriate use of cleaning and disinfection chemicals.
  • Wear disposable gloves and gowns for all tasks in the cleaning process, including handling trash.
    • Additional personal protective equipment (PPE) might be required based on the cleaning/disinfectant products being used and whether there is a risk of splash.
    • Gloves and gowns should be removed carefully to avoid contamination of the wearer and the surrounding area.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for 20 seconds.
    • Always wash immediately after removing gloves and after contact with a person who is sick.
    • Hand sanitizer: If soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol may be used. However, if hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap and water.

Always read and follow the directions on the label to ensure safe and effective use.

  • Keep hand sanitizers away from fire or flame
  • For children under six years of age, hand sanitizer should be used with adult supervision
  • Always store hand sanitizer out of reach of children and pets

See FDA’s Tips for Safe Sanitizer Useexternal icon and CDC's Hand Sanitizer Use Considerations

  • Additional key times to wash 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).
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Additional considerations for employers
  • Educate workers performing cleaning, laundry, and trash pick-up to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19.
  • Provide instructions on what to do if they develop symptoms within 14 days after their last possible exposure to the virus.
  • Develop policies for worker protection and provide training to all cleaning staff on site prior to providing cleaning tasks.
    • Training should include when to use PPE, what PPE is necessary, how to properly don (put on), use, and doff (take off) PPE, and how to properly dispose of PPE.
  • Ensure workers are trained on the hazards of the cleaning chemicals used in the workplace in accordance with OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard (29 CFR 1910.1200external icon).
  • Comply with OSHA’s standards on Bloodborne Pathogens (29 CFR 1910.1030external icon), including proper disposal of regulated waste, and PPE (29 CFR 1910.132external icon).
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Alternative disinfection methods
  • The efficacy of alternative disinfection methods, such as ultrasonic waves, high intensity UV radiation, and LED blue light against COVID-19 virus is not known.
    • EPA does not routinely review the safety or efficacy of pesticidal devices, such as UV lights, LED lights, or ultrasonic devices. Therefore, EPA cannot confirm whether, or under what circumstances, such products might be effective against the spread of COVID-19.
  • CDC does not recommend the use of sanitizing tunnels. There is no evidence that they are effective in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Chemicals used in sanitizing tunnels could cause skin, eye, or respiratory irritation or damage.
  • CDC only recommends use of the surface disinfectants identified on List Nexternal iconexternal icon against the virus that causes COVID-19.
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For facilities that house people overnight
  • Follow CDC’s guidance for colleges and universities. Work with state and local health officials to determine the best way to isolate people who are sick and if temporary housing is needed.
  • For guidance on cleaning and disinfecting the bedroom/bathroom for someone who is sick, review CDC’s guidance on disinfecting your home if someone is sick.

When and How to Wash Your Hands

Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself and your family from getting sick. Learn when and how you should wash your hands to stay healthy.

How Germs Spread

Washing hands can keep you healthy and prevent the spread of respiratory and diarrheal infections from one person to the next. Germs can spread from other people or surfaces when you:

  • Touch your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
  • Prepare or eat food and drinks with unwashed hands
  • Touch a contaminated surface or objects
  • Blow your nose, cough, or sneeze into hands and then touch other people’s hands or common objects

Key Times to Wash Hands

You can help yourself and your loved ones stay healthy by washing your hands often, especially during these key times when you are likely to get and spread germs:

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after caring for someone at home who is sick with vomiting or diarrhea
  • Before and after treating a cut or wound
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing diapers or cleaning up a child who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After touching an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage

During the COVID-19 pandemic, you should also clean hands:

  • After you have been in a public place and touched an item or surface that may be frequently touched by other people, such as door handles, tables, gas pumps, shopping carts, or electronic cashier registers/screens, etc.
  • Before touching your eyes, nose, or mouth because that’s how germs enter our bodies.

Follow Five Steps to Wash Your Hands the Right Way

Washing your hands is easy, and it’s one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of germs. Clean hands can stop germs from spreading from one person to another and throughout an entire community—from your home and workplace to childcare facilities and hospitals.

Follow these five steps every time.

  1. Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, and apply soap.
  2. Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.
  3. Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Need a timer? Hum the “Happy Birthday” song from beginning to end twice.
  4. Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.
  5. Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Why? Read the science behind the recommendations.

Use Hand Sanitizer When You Can’t Use Soap and Water

using hand sanitizer
You can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations. If soap and water are not readily available, you can use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. You can tell if the sanitizer contains at least 60% alcohol by looking at the product label.

Sanitizers can quickly reduce the number of germs on hands in many situations. However,

  • Sanitizers do not get rid of all types of germs.
  • Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
  • Hand sanitizers might not remove harmful chemicals from hands like pesticides and heavy metals.

Caution! Swallowing alcohol-based hand sanitizers can cause alcohol poisoning if more than a couple of mouthfuls are swallowed. Keep it out of reach of young children and supervise their use.

How to use hand sanitizer

  • Apply the gel product to the palm of one hand (read the label to learn the correct amount).
  • Rub your hands together.
  • Rub the gel over all the surfaces of your hands and fingers until your hands are dry. This should take around 20 seconds.
Image of a woman washing hands in a bathroom and a reminder to make handwashing a healthy habit.

 

CDC’s Handwashing Campaign: Life is Better with Clean Hands

CDC’s Life is Better with Clean Hands campaign encourages adults to make handwashing part of their everyday life and encourages parents to wash their hands to set a good example for their kids. Visit the Life is Better with Clean Hands campaign page to download resources to help promote handwashing in your community.

For more information on handwashing, visit CDC’s Handwashing website or call 1-800-CDC-INFO.