General Precautions

  • Older adults and persons with severe underlying health conditions are at higher risk of more serious illness after contracting COVID-19. Anyone within these groups of people should avoid exposure to potentially infectious areas.
  • Wait as long as practical after persons leave an area before beginning cleaning and disinfection to minimize potential for exposure to respiratory droplets. 
  • Respiratory aerosols may linger in air for up to 3 hours. If possible, wait up to 24 hours before beginning cleaning and disinfection of suspected areas of concern. 
  • Cleaning staff should routinely clean and disinfect all areas (e.g. offices, bathrooms, and common areas), focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces.

Reference: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility and Cleaning and Disinfection for Community Facilities on the CDC website.

Safety Precautions

Hand Hygiene

  • Staff should clean hands often, including immediately after removing personal protective equipment.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for ≥ 20 seconds:
    1. Wet your hands with clean running water
    2. Lather hands by rubbing together with soap
    3. Scrub your hands with soap for 20 seconds
    4. Rinse your hands under clean running water
    5. Dry hands with a clean towel or air dryer
  • 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.
  • If hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap and water.

Personal Protective Equipment

  • Disposable gloves should be worn when cleaning and should be compatible with disinfectant products used. 
  • If reusable gloves are used, they should be dedicated to cleaning high risk areas and be routinely disinfected after use.
  • If cleaning an area where a suspected person has been in contact, a protective gown, lab coat, Tyvek suit or coverall should also be worn. 
  • If there is a risk of splashing while cleaning, a mask (dust or surgical) and eye protection (goggles, safety glasses) should be donned to protect mucous membranes.
  • Cleaning staff should immediately wash their hands or exposed areas if breaches in PPE (e.g., tear in gloves) and report any potential exposures to their supervisor.

Manufacturer Safety Information

  • Review the product’s Safety Data Sheet (SDS) and/or the product label for information on PPE, the hazards of the disinfectant, and proper use. Look for words like “Danger”, “Corrosive”, “Warning” or “Caution”. Danger and Corrosive mean that the chemical can cause permanent injury. Precautionary statements are often found on the backside of the label and provide more information on potential health effects, hazards, recommendations for PPE, and instructions for safe handling. 
  • Never mix cleaners unless the manufacturer label directs you to do so.

Work Practices

Cleaning: refers to the removal of dirt and impurities, from surfaces. Cleaning alone does not kill germs, but it decreases their number and therefore the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting: works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs.

Surfaces and Electronics

  • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • For disinfection use either; a diluted household bleach solution (1/3 cup bleach to 1 gallon of water), alcohol (≥70% alcohol), or an  with appropriate contact time per label.
  • Tablets, touch-screens, cell phones, keyboards, remote controls, etc.: Follow manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfecting. If no guidance, use alcohol based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol. Dry surfaces thoroughly. Consider adding protective covers for easier cleaning.
  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation.
    Caution: Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser.

Soft Porous Items

  • Clean the surface using soap and water or with cleaners appropriate for use on these surfaces
  • Carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes: If possible, disinfect with EPA-registered household disinfectant.
  • If items can be removed and laundered, then follow laundering instructions below for linens and clothing.

Linens & Clothing

  • 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.
  • Launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely.
  • Clean and disinfect hampers or other carts for transporting laundry according to guidance above for hard or soft surfaces.

Waste Disposal

  • Cleaning waste (paper towels, gloves, etc.) may be discarded in regular trash.
  • If applicable, comply with OSHA’s standards on Bloodborne Pathogens outlined in the Unit Exposure Control Plan (ECP).

Additional Considerations for Units

  • Educate workers performing cleaning, laundry, and trash pick-up to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19 and provide instructions on what to do if they develop symptoms (fever, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, chills, muscle pain, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell) within 14 days after their last possible exposure to the virus.
  • 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.
    • A video demonstrating Disposable Glove Removal is available from DRS
  • Ensure workers are trained on the hazards of the cleaning chemicals used in the workplace in accordance with OSHA’s Hazard Communication standard.
  • For laboratory researchers, review Cleaning Guidelines for Laboratories and Research Facilities

    Last Update: 5/19/2020
    Updated By: tmcgill