Cleaning guidance

Someone in rubber gloves disinfects surface

CDPHE environmental cleaning guidance for COVID-19

Households, workplaces, vehicles

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment is providing the following recommendations to routinely clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces to control the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. The following guidance is based on the CDC’s Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility and Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Home guidance.

Based on what is currently known about the virus, spread from person to person happens most frequently among people who are within close contact with each other (within about 6 feet of each other for 15 minutes or more cumulatively over 24 hours. This type of transmission occurs via respiratory droplets or particles. The virus that causes COVID-19 can also land on surfaces. The risk of infection from touching a surface is now thought to be low. However, it is possible for people to become infected if they touch those surfaces and then touch their nose, mouth, or eyes.

In addition to performing hand hygiene,daily cleaning of visibly dirty and high-touch surfaces is a best practice measure for preventing the transmission of COVID-19 and other illnesses in households and community settings. If someone who is sick or who has tested positive for COVID-19 has been in a space within the last 24 hours, disinfecting is also recommended.

  • Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

  • Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

  • Cleaning and disinfection after someone who is suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 has been in a space:

    • It is recommended to close off areas occupied by the sick person and wait as long as practical (at least several hours) before starting to clean and disinfect the space. This will lower the risk of being exposed to respiratory particles. Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area. Restrict access for two hours after the sick person has left. 

    • Clean and disinfect all areas (e.g., offices, bathrooms, and common areas) used by the sick person, focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces. 

    • If you can close off an area that the sick person used and wait 24 hours before cleaning, then you only need to clean (disinfection is not needed).

    • Continue to follow all cleaning and disinfecting recommendations provided below.

  • Always follow the labeled instructions for use of cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting products. Ensure that safe chemical storage and handling practices are followed.

  • Always follow directions on the label and wear gloves and any other protective equipment recommended by the product label when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Disposable gloves should be discarded after each cleaning. If reusable gloves are used, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other purposes. Wash hands immediately after gloves are removed.

  • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

  • For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfection products used.

  • Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Check the label on the bleach container to be sure it provides claims about disinfecting and instructions for mixing. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for mixing, application and proper ventilation. Avoid using bottles of bleach that you think may be older than one year, or are past their expiration date as marked on the bottle. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted. 

    • Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:

      • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water. This a "standard recipe," be sure to check the label as bleach comes in different concentrations.

      • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water

    • Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens are expected to be effective against COVID-19 based on data for harder to kill viruses. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.). The list of EPA-approved products for emerging viral pathogens expected to be effective against COVID-19 can be accessed at this link: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-againstsars-cov-2

  • For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes, remove visible contamination if present and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces. After cleaning:

    • Launder items as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely, or

  • Use products with the EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens claims (examples at this link) that are suitable for porous surfaces.

  • Wear gloves when handling dirty laundry from an ill person. If wearing disposable gloves and then discard the gloves after each use. If using reusable gloves, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other household purposes. Wash hands immediately after gloves are removed.

    • If no gloves are used when handling dirty laundry, wash hands afterward and change clothes that came into contact with the laundry.

    • If possible, do not shake dirty laundry. This will minimize the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.

    • Launder items as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry from an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.

    • Clean and disinfect clothes hampers according to guidance above for surfaces. If possible, consider placing a bag liner that is either disposable (can be thrown away) or can be laundered.

Regulated facilities: schools, child care facilities, retail food establishments, and public accommodations

The following guidance is designed to clarify proper cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting of surfaces within regulated facilities such as schools, child care facilities, retail food establishments, and public accommodations.

  • Clean means to be free of dust and debris or to remove dirt and debris by vacuuming or scrubbing and washing with soap and water.

  • Disinfect means to eliminate most or all pathogens. This is generally accomplished in these settings by the use of liquid chemical solutions such as a mixture of household bleach and water.

  • Sanitization is not as strong as disinfecting, but still removes many pathogens.It is safe to use on surfaces used for food preparation and on toys that may be mouthed by children.

 

Worker Training

In accordance with OSHA Hazard Communication Standard 1910.1200, employers are to identify workers who work with and may be exposed to chemicals in the workplace. The workers must be trained to identify and work safely with those chemicals before their initial assignment and whenever the chemicals, hazard(s) or their work changes. Workers should be trained with current Safety Data Sheets (SDS), Global Harmonized System (GHS) have the chemical hazards explained, what measures are in place to protect workers and how to respond in the event there is an exposure and spill response or other emergency measures. For example, alcohol based hand sanitizer is a flammable liquid and vapor that also can cause skin and/or eye irritation.

Schools should clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces as they would in the event of increased rates of influenza and other respiratory infections. However, in kitchens and food preparation areas, schools should sanitize food contact surfaces as usual and of course, follow guidance on exclusion of ill workers, proper and frequent handwashing and respiratory hygiene, which is true for all settings.

In child care facilities, we recommend routine cleaning and sanitizing of kitchens and areas used primarily for food and bottle preparation. We recommend daily cleaning of commonly touched surfaces. And cleaning and disinfecting of commonly touched surfaces if a case or outbreak has recently been identified in the facility. If toys children may mouth or table tops used for the service of food are disinfected, they should be rinsed and allowed to air-dry before being used or returned to use by children.

Restaurants and other retail food establishments should continue routine cleaning and sanitizing of food preparation surfaces in the kitchen and other food storage areas. We recommend routinely cleaning commonly touched surfaces in the dining and customer areas. Cleaning and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces is recommended if the establishment is experiencing an outbreak. 

Hotels and other public accommodations cleaning rooms used by a known case or a quarantined or isolated individual should follow recommended CDC guidance: Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility.

  • Close off areas used by the sick person and wait as long as practical (at least several hours) before starting to clean and disinfect the space. This will lower the risk of being exposed to respiratory particles. Open outside doors and windows and use fans or HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) settings to increase air circulation in the area.

  • If more than 24 hours have passed since the person who is sick or diagnosed with COVID-19 has been in the space, cleaning is enough.


Additional resources
EPA: Cleaning and Disinfecting: Best Practices During the COVID-19 Pandemic
EPA: Disinfectants for Coronavirus (COVID-19)
EPA: Six Steps for Safe & Effective Disinfectant Use