Cleaning and disinfecting public spaces, including your workplace, school, or business, will require a three-step plan:
Reducing the risk of exposure to illnesses by cleaning and disinfection is an important part of reopening public spaces that will require careful planning. Everyone has been called upon to slow the spread of the infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, through social distancing and prevention hygiene, such as frequently washing your hands and wearing face coverings.
The EPA has compiled a list of disinfectant products that can be used against viruses, including COVID-19. The list includes ready-to-use sprays, concentrates, and wipes.
This course provides a general framework for cleaning and disinfection practices. The framework is based on doing the following:
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Here are a few important reminders about viruses and reducing the risk of exposure:
If you oversee staff in a workplace, your plan should include considerations about the safety of custodial staff and other people who are performing the cleaning or disinfecting procedures. These people are at increased risk of being exposed to the virus and to any toxic effects of the cleaning chemicals. These staff should wear appropriate PPE for cleaning and disinfecting. To protect your staff and to ensure that the products are used effectively, staff should be instructed on how to apply the disinfectants according to the label.
Evaluate your workplace, school, or business to determine what kinds of surfaces and materials make up that area. Most surfaces and objects will just need normal routine cleaning. Frequently touched surfaces and objects like light switches and doorknobs will need to be cleaned and then disinfected to further reduce the risk of germs on surfaces and objects.
You should also consider what items can be moved or removed completely to reduce frequent handling or contact from multiple people. For example, remove magazines from waiting areas to prevent frequent handling by staff or guests. Soft and porous materials, such as area rugs and seating, may be removed or stored to reduce the challenges with cleaning and disinfecting them.
It is critical your plan includes how to maintain a cleaning and disinfecting strategy after reopening from an extended closure. Develop a flexible plan with your staff or family, adjusting the plan as federal, state, tribal, territorial, or local guidance is updated and if your specific circumstances change.
Some surfaces only need to be cleaned with soap and water. For example, surfaces and objects that are not frequently touched should be cleaned and do not require disinfection. Additionally, disinfectants should typically not be applied on items used by children, especially any items that children might put in their mouths. Many disinfectants are toxic when swallowed. schools or offices where children are present, cleaning toys and other items used by children with soap and water is usually sufficient. Find more information on cleaning and disinfecting toys and other surfaces in the childcare program setting at CDC’s Guidance for Childcare Programs that Remain Open.
Click here for a Workplace Cleaning and Disinfecting Checklist to use at your worksite.
The following questions will help you decide which surfaces and objects will need normal routine cleaning.
Is the area outdoors?
Outdoor areas generally require normal routine cleaning and do not require disinfection. Spraying disinfectant on sidewalks and in parks is not an efficient use of disinfectant supplies and has not been proven to reduce the risk of illness to the public. You should maintain existing cleaning and hygiene practices for outdoor areas.
The targeted use of disinfectants can be done effectively, efficiently and safely on outdoor hard surfaces and objects frequently touched by multiple people. Certain outdoor areas and facilities, such as bars and restaurants, may have additional requirements.
There is no evidence that the virus that causes COVID-19 can spread directly to humans from water in pools, hot tubs or spas, or water play areas. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (for example, with chlorine or bromine) of pools, hot tubs or spas, and water playgrounds should kill the virus that causes influenza and COVID-19. However, there are additional concerns with outdoor areas that may be maintained less frequently, including playgrounds, or other facilities located within local, state, or national parks.
If your workplace, school, or business has been unoccupied for 7 days or more, it will only need your normal routine cleaning to reopen the area. This is because the viruses that cause influenza and COVID-19 has not been shown to survive on surfaces longer than this time.
There are public health considerations when reopening public buildings and spaces that have been closed for extended periods due to a virus. You should take measures to ensure the safety of your building water system. Additionally, it is not necessary to clean ventilation systems, other than routine maintenance, as part of reducing risk of influenza and coronaviruses. For healthcare facilities, additional guidance is provided on CDC’s Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities.
Following your normal routine cleaning, you can disinfect frequently touched surfaces and objects using a product from EPA's list of approved products.
Here are some important questions that will help you choose appropriate disinfectants.
Are you cleaning or disinfecting a hard and non-porous material or item like glass, metal, or plastic?
This CDC list will help you determine the most appropriate disinfectant for the surface or object. You can use diluted household bleach solutions if appropriate for the surface. Pay special attention to the PPE that may be needed to safely apply the disinfectant and the manufacturer's recommendations concerning any additional hazards. Keep all disinfectants out of the reach of children.
Examples of frequently touched surfaces and objects that will need routine disinfection following reopening are:
Each business or facility is unique and has different surfaces and objects that are frequently touched by multiple people. Appropriately disinfect these surfaces and objects.
Once you have a developed your plan, it’s time to act. Read all manufacturer’s instructions for the cleaning and disinfection products you will use. Be sure to put on your gloves and other required PPE before you begin the process of cleaning and disinfecting.
Clean surfaces and objects using soap and water prior to disinfection. Always wear gloves appropriate for the chemicals being used for cleaning and disinfecting. Follow the directions on the disinfectant label for additional PPE needs. When you finish cleaning, remember to wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
Clean or launder soft and porous materials like seating in an office or coffee shop, area rugs, and carpets. Launder items according to the manufacturer’s instructions, using the warmest temperature setting possible and dry items completely.
Take steps to reduce your risk of exposure to influenza and coronaviruses during daily activities. CDC provides tips to reduce your exposure and risk of acquiring illnesses. Reducing exposure to yourself and others is a shared responsibility. Continue to update your plan based on updated guidance and your current circumstances.
Routine cleaning and disinfecting are an important part of reducing the risk of exposure to viruses. Normal routine cleaning with soap and water alone can reduce risk of exposure and is a necessary step before you disinfect dirty surfaces.
Surfaces frequently touched by multiple people, such as door handles, desks, phones, light switches, and faucets, should be cleaned and disinfected at least daily. More frequent cleaning and disinfection may be required based on level of use. For example, certain surfaces and objects in public spaces, such as shopping carts and point of sale keypads, should be cleaned and disinfected before each use.
Consider choosing a different disinfectant if your first choice is in short supply. Make sure there is enough supply of gloves and appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) based on the label, the amount of product you will need to apply, and the size of the surface you are treating.
We have all had to make significant behavioral changes to reduce the spread of COVID-19. These changes help prevent transmission of other infectious diseases, such as influenza. To stay healthy after an extended closure, everyone should continue these practices:
It's important to continue to follow federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local guidance when reopening from an extended closure due to an infectious outbreak. Check this resource for recent updates on COVID-19. This will help you change your plan when situations are updated.
It is also essential to change the ways we use public spaces to work, live, and play. We should continue thinking about our safety and the safety of others.
To reduce the risk of spreading influenza or COVID-19, consider whether you need to touch certain surfaces or materials. Consider wiping public surfaces before and after you touch them.
Another way to reduce the risk of exposure to an infectious disease is to make long-term changes to practices and procedures:
You can take additional steps to identify and implement safety work practices to help reduce the spread of illnesses and protect your staff and the public.
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