Maintaining a clean, safe environment for customers, employees, guests, patients, vendors – it’s never been more important. Here are guidelines offered by the CDC for cleaning and disinfecting businesses, public spaces, work places, schools and more.
CDC Guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting commercial, medical and educational organizations
Download the full PDF – CDC Guidelines for Cleaning and Disinfecting
COVID-19 – the Coronavirus that swept through worldwide in 2019 and 2020 has changed the way we work, live and play now, and will continue to do so in the months and maybe even years to come. The CDC recommends continued social distancing and the changing of daily habits to reduce risk of infection or transmission of COVID-19 (and other infectious illnesses).
To reopen and conduct day-to-day business more safely, you need to:
- Develop a plan
- Implement the plan
- Maintain and (as needed) revise your plan
Developing a plan to clean and disinfect when reopening or running a business
The U.S. EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) compiled a list of disinfectant products that can be used against COVID-19, including ready-to-use sprays, concentrates, and wipes. Each product has been shown to be effective, even against viruses that are harder to kill than the virus that causes COVID-19. The framework for cleaning and disinfecting a business is based on doing the following three things:
- Normal routine cleaning with soap and water decreases how much of the virus is on surfaces and objects, which – in turn – reduces the risk of exposure
- Disinfection using EPA-approved disinfectants to reduce risk of exposure even more, and
- Frequent disinfection of surfaces and objects touched by multiple people
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. And as always, keep all disinfectants out of the reach of children. It’s also important to continue to follow any and all applicable federal, state, tribal, territorial, and local guidance for reopening.
1. Develop a plan
Evaluate your space (workspace, office, common areas, etc.) to determine what kinds of surfaces and materials you will need to address. It’s likely that most surfaces and object will only require normal, routine cleaning. However, surfaces and objects that get touched a lot, or by multiple people (light switches, door, cabinet and drawer handles, office equipment, etc.) should be frequently cleaned and disinfected to reduce the risk of germ transmission.
- Clean the surface or object with soap and water (unless the object or surface should not come into contact with these solutions)
- Disinfect using an EPA-approved disinfectant (or, if an approved disinfectant is not available, the bleach/water or 70% alcohol solution as noted above)
- Soft / porous materials may be harder to disinfect than hard and non-porous materials, the EPA list of products approved for disinfecting soft and porous materials can be found here
Detailed CDC directions for cleaning and disinfecting can be found here.
What needs to be cleaned?
Surfaces / objects not frequently touched may be cleaned with soap and water and are unlikely to require disinfection. Disinfectants should typically not be applied to items touched by children, especially items that a child, toddler or baby might put into its mouth. Cleaning toys and other items used by children with soap and water is usually sufficient. Get more information about cleaning toys and other surfaces in childcare settings here.
Outdoor areas generally require only normal cleaning and are unlikely to require disinfection. However, some outdoor areas, such as bars and restaurants, may need to disinfect as well as clean. Get more information about Food Safety and COVID-19 here.
If the workplace, school, church or business has been unoccupied for more than 7 days, it may only require routine cleaning. However, if your facility has remained closed for an extended period, you may need to ensure the safety/quality and good working order of other systems, such as the facility’s water system, HVAC, etc., before re-opening.
The CDC also has unique guidelines for healthcare facilities, which can be found in their content for Environmental Infection Control in Health Care Facilities here.
What needs to be disinfected?
You should plan to clean and then disinfect frequently touch surfaces and objects using an EPA-approved disinfectant. You should do this before re-opening your business, school, clinic or other facility, and then determine how frequently to repeat the process of cleaning and disinfecting.
Examples of frequently touched surfaces and objects that will need routine disinfection following reopening are:
- door handles / doorknobs
- drawer and cabinet pulls
- office equipment like copiers, fax machines and phones
- light switches
- HVAC and temperature controls
- keyboards and keypads
- ATM machines
- digital touch screens and kiosks
- security keypads
- faucets, sinks, toilets
- kitchen appliances
- plates, cups and silverware
- desks and chairs
- gas pump handles and keypads – and more
As you evaluate your space/s, make a list of those surfaces and objects which are likely to be frequently touched by multiple individuals. You can use this list as a checklist to ensure these items are cleaned and disinfected before opening your business and on a routine basis afterward.
What resources and equipment will you need?
If the idea of properly cleaning and disinfecting your business, school, public space, workspace or other facility seems daunting, remember you can leave the hard work to us! Reach out for a free, no-obligation estimate for a one-time deep clean and disinfect to reopen your business and/or for an estimate for on-going commercial cleaning and disinfecting services.
To properly adhere to CDC and state / city / industrial guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting, you will need to have the right supplies, tools and equipment, including PPE (personal protective equipment). You should always wear gloves appropriate for any chemicals being used, and follow the label guidelines for use. You can find information about PPE for cleaning and disinfection on the CDC website for Cleaning and Disinfecting Community Facilities (schools, daycare centers, and businesses) here.
2. Implement the plan
Read all manufacturer’s instructions for the products and equipment you will use to clean and disinfect your facility. Make sure you wear the appropriate gloves and PPE. Wash your own hands before putting on your gloves and other PPE.
- Clean surfaces and items with soap and water (unless the item/material may not come into contact with soap or water) prior to disinfecting
- Clean or launder soft and porous materials (such as seating, area rugs, carpets, etc.) according to manufacturer’s instructions, using the warmest temperature setting possible and letting items dry completely
- For those items and surfaces you have identified as requiring disinfection, use the EPA-approved disinfectants, following all the instructions on the label for concentration, dilution, application method, contact / application time, scrubbing, removal or any other special considerations
It’s vital that you follow the instructions on the label or manufacturer’s instructions to ensure safe and effective cleaning and disinfection before re-opening your business. These instructions may also inform the precautions you need to take, such as PPE, ventilation, etc. when using the product/s. And make sure you keep all disinfectants and cleaning supplies out of the reach of children.
3. Maintain and revise your plan
Keeping yourself and others safe is a shared responsibility, and one that will require you to continue to provide a safe, clean environment for employees, customers, patrons, vendors and other guests who use facilities such as:
- Schools, colleges, libraries and other educational institutions
- Health sciences and workplace laboratories
- Restaurants, bars and other hospitality businesses
- Commercial and food service kitchens and food trucks
- Community and senior living centers
- Gyms and fitness centers
- Car dealerships and car rental companies
- Barber shops, salons, spas and day spas
- Offices, open concept workspaces and co-working facilities
- Hospitals and medical / dental clinics
- Hotels and motels
- Sports arenas, conference and convention centers
- Common use spaces such as waiting rooms, lobbies, break rooms, cafeterias, mezzanines and restrooms
Continue routine cleaning and disinfecting
Clean and disinfect daily:
- surfaces and/or objects touched by multiple people
- door handles, drawer and cabinet pulls
- entry or security keypads
- office equipment (copiers, faxes, computers, keyboards, phones)
- light switches
- water fountains / water dispensers
- kitchen appliances
- coffee, beverage or snack stations or vending machines
- faucets, sinks and toilets
- and more
More frequent cleaning and disinfection may even 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.
Maintain safe behaviors
At least for the time being, experts recommend that we support the health of ourselves and others by modifying behaviors, which may include things like:
- social distancing of 6 feet when in shared spaces
- frequent hand washing or use of alcohol-based (60% alcohol) hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available
- wearing masks or cloth face coverings that cover the nose and mouth
- avoiding touching our eyes, nose and mouth
- staying home when sick or symptomatic
- regularly cleaning and disinfecting frequently touch objects and surfaces
There may also be other actions you can take to reduce risk of exposure or transmission of germs in the workplace or other public space, such as:
- wiping down surfaces or objects before and/or after you use them
- replacing soft or porous materials with easier to clean, non-porous/hard surfaced items (such as for seating)
- leaving doors open to reduce the necessity for multiple people to touch door handles
- removing communal supplies and replacing them with single-use supplies (such as coffee creamer or snacks)
The CDC’s guidelines include both general and industry specific articles. You can find the full list beginning on page 7 of the CDC’s Guide for Reopening America PDF. We’ve included a link to a few of the guides more specific to reopening businesses, schools and similar public spaces here:
- Healthcare settings – medical and dental practices, dialysis facilities, blood and plasma facilities, pharmacies, outpatient and ambulatory care facilities
- Critical infrastructure employees
- Schools and childcare facilities
- Colleges and universities
- Mass gatherings and community events
- Community and faith-based organizations
- Retirement homes
- Restaurants and bars best practices from FDA