Course 139 Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting

Safety guides and audits to make your job as a safety professional easier

Cleaning and Disinfecting Procedures

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You are required to develop your plan, implement your plan, and maintain and revise your plan.

Cleaning and disinfecting public spaces, including your workplace, school, or business, will require a three-step plan:

  1. develop your plan
  2. implement your plan
  3. maintain and revise your 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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Six Safe Steps for Disinfectant Use
  1. Routine Cleaning
    • Normal routine cleaning with soap and water will decrease how much of the virus is on surfaces and objects, which reduces the risk of exposure.
  1. Disinfecting
  1. Alternative Disinfectants
    • When EPA-approved disinfectants are not available, alternative disinfectants can be used (for example, 1/3 cup of bleach added to 1 gallon of water, or 70% alcohol solutions). Do not mix bleach or other cleaning and disinfection products together. This can cause fumes that may be very dangerous to breathe in. Bleach solutions will be effective for disinfection up to 24 hours. Keep all disinfectants out of the reach of children. Always take safety precautions and wear proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when using disinfectants.

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1. Bleach solutions will be effective for disinfection against bacteria and viruses for up to _____.

a. 48 hours
b. 36 hours
c. 24 hours
d. 72 hours

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Reducing Risk of Exposure to Influenza and Coronaviruses

Cleaning Supplies That Kill COVID-19

Here are a few important reminders about viruses and reducing the risk of exposure:

  • Infectious diseases, such as influenza and coronaviruses, on surfaces and objects naturally die within hours to days. Warmer temperatures and exposure to sunlight will reduce the time the virus survives on surfaces and objects.
  • Normal routine cleaning with general soap and water removes germs and dirt from surfaces. It lowers the risk of spreading infections.
  • Store and use disinfectants in a responsible and appropriate manner according to the label. Do not mix bleach or other cleaning and disinfection products together–this can cause fumes that may be very dangerous to breathe in. Keep all disinfectants out of the reach of children.
  • Do not overuse or stockpile disinfectants or other supplies. This can result in shortages of appropriate products for others to use in critical situations. Alcohol disinfectants can create a potential fire hazard if stored improperly.
  • Always wear gloves appropriate for the chemicals being used when you are cleaning and disinfecting. Additional PPE may be needed based on setting and product. For more information, see CDC's website on Cleaning and Disinfection for Community Facilities.
  • Practice social distancing, wear clean facial coverings, and follow proper prevention hygiene, such as washing your hands frequently and using alcohol-based (at least 60% alcohol) hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.

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.

2. Which of the following is said to lower the risk of spreading COVID-19 infection?

a. Hair nets
b. Normal routine cleaning with general soap and water
c. Coveralls
d. Work boots

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Develop Your Plan

cleaning lightswitch
Frequently touched surfaces and objects like light switches and doorknobs will need to be cleaned and then disinfected. Click to enlarge.

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.

Determine What Needs to be Cleaned

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.

3. What common surfaces do not require additional disinfection?

a. Dishes
b. Kitchen areas
c. Bathrooms
d. Surfaces and objects that are not frequently touched

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Determining the Type of Cleaning Required

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Bars and restaurants have additional cleaning and disinfecting requirements for outdoor areas. Click to enlarge.

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.

4. _____ generally require normal routine cleaning and do not require disinfection.

a. Office spaces
b. Outdoor areas
c. School desks
d. Common areas

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Determine What Needs to be Disinfected

Frequently Touched Surfaces
Frequently touched surfaces and objects need routine disinfection to help prevent viruses.

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:

  • tables
  • doorknobs
  • light switches
  • countertops
  • handles
  • desks
  • phones
  • keyboards
  • toilets
  • faucets and sinks
  • gas pump handles
  • touch screens, such as ATM or credit card machines (wipe down with a disinfectant)

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.

5. Which of the following common-use items should be disinfected on a regular basis to help prevent the spread of coronaviruses?

a. Desks
b. Sidewalks
c. Cars
d. Dishes

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Implement Your Plan

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Put on gloves to begin the process of cleaning and disinfecting. Click to enlarge.

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 Visibly Dirty Surfaces with Soap and Water

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.

6. Before disinfecting and implementing your plan, what should be done first?

a. Wash hands
b. Have employees leave office and go outside
c. Train employees
d. Put on gloves and other required personal protective equipment

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Maintain and Revise Your Plan

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Surfaces frequently touched by multiple people, such as door handles, should be cleaned and disinfected at least daily. Click to enlarge.

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.

Continue Routine Cleaning and Disinfecting

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.

7. How often should surfaces frequently touched by multiple people be cleaned and disinfected?

a. Weekly
b. Every two weeks
c. Monthly
d. Daily

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Maintain Safe Behavioral Practices

safe practices
It is necessary to maintain safe behavioral practices at work to reduce the chance of viruses spreading.

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:

  • social distancing (specifically, staying 6 feet away from others when you must go into a shared space)
  • frequently washing hands or use alcohol-based (at least 60% alcohol) hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available - you should also place have hand sanitizer available at entry doors and other areas around the workplace
  • wearing cloth face coverings
  • avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth
  • staying home when sick
  • cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces

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.

Consider Practices that Reduce Exposure

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:

  • reducing the use of porous materials used for seating
  • leaving some doors open to reduce touching by multiple people
  • opening windows to improve ventilation
  • removing objects in your common areas, like coffee creamer containers

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.

8. What long-term changes to practices and procedures can help reduce the spread of exposure to coronaviruses?

a. Opening windows to improve ventilation
b. Keeping objects, such as coffee creamer containers, within reach
c. Increasing use of porous seating areas
d. Close doors

Check your Work

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