Cleaning and Disinfecting the Workplace During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Galit M. Sacajiu, MD, MPH – Director, Medical Education

Cleaning and Disinfecting the Workplace Guidelines

The Difference Between Cleaning and Disinfection

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  • Cleaning refers to the removal of any visible dust, soil, dirt, and grime using regular detergent (soap) and water.
  • Disinfection refers to the use of a chemical solution (known as disinfectant) to kill germs.

Cleaning and Disinfection Procedures

Before cleaning

  1. Prepare and gather:
    • Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
      • Check the PPE for any breaches or tears before wearing.
      • If there is any, report it immediately.
        •  
    • Cleaning Products and Equipment
    • Trash Bags

During the cleaning

  1. Use products with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registration
    number only as they have been approved for use against coronavirus.
  2. Read the instructions on the label. Be reminded that:
    • Some disinfectants will come as concentrates and need to be diluted before applying.
    • Others will be mixed in with a cleaning agent.
    • Identify:
      • The type of surfaces that they can be used on
      • If the surfaces need to be rinsed afterward
  1. Frequently touched surfaces, such as light switches and door handles
  1. Clean a visibly dirty surface or object with warm water and detergent. Then, disinfect it with a disinfectant product.
    • If the surface is not visibly dirty, a detergent can be combined with a 1,000-ppm diluted bleach solution for a 2-in-1 cleaning.
  2. Prepare the bleach solution daily and as needed.
    • For a 1,000-ppm concentration, add 4 teaspoons of bleach per quart (or liter) of water or 5 tablespoons of bleach per gallon of water.
    • Always check the label to verify if the bleach can be used for disinfection and follow the instructions for dilution.
    • Do not mix household bleach with ammonia or other cleansers.
  3. Other effective disinfectants are peroxide-based solutions and products with at least 70% alcohol.
  • Items that can go in the laundry, such as towels, linens, and clothing, can be washed using regular detergent with the warmest possible water setting (as per item’s fabric). They should also be dried completely afterward.
  • Wear PPE when collecting dirty laundry.
  • Have separate baskets for clean and dirty laundry.
  1. Always check the items’ cleaning instructions and which cleaning product can be used on them.
  2. For items. such as remote controls, touch screens, tablets, ATMs, keyboards, and computer mouse devices, remove any visible dirt or contamination with a dry cloth.
    • Use 70% alcohol wipes to disinfect other items and avoid liquid collection in small spaces.

After

  1. Non disposable cloths and mop heads should be washed with hot water and dried completely before using again.
  2. Clean and disinfect other cleaning equipment (such as buckets, hampers, or carts) based on the previously stated instructions.
  3. Put used disposable items (such as mop heads, cloths, and paper towels) in plastic trash bags.
  4. Trash bags containing any known infected items should be kept away from people and safely stored for at least 72 hours before putting them in the regular waste area.
  5. Remove the PPE properly to prevent self-contamination.
    • After removing it, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 to 30 seconds or use a hand rub with 70% alcohol.

Removing Gloves

  • Peel the first glove away from the hand, turning the glove inside out and put it in the trash bag.
  • Slide an ungloved finger under the rim of the other glove, peel it off, and put it in the trash bag.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 to 30 seconds or use a hand rub with 70% alcohol.

Removing Gowns or Aprons

  • Break or untie the fasteners from the top to the bottom.
  • Reach inside the first cuff and pull the hand in, with the gown over the first hand.
  • Reach over the second hand and pull the cuff down.
  • Continue to pull it away from your body, just touching the inside of the gown and throw it in the trash bag.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 to 30 seconds or use a hand rub with 70% alcohol.

Removing Face Shields

  • Avoid touching their front surfaces by reaching for the elastic straps.
  • If you are using a reusable item:
    1. Place it in a container.
    2. Clean and disinfect it.
  • Wash your hands with soap and water for 20 to 30 seconds or use a hand rub with 70% alcohol.

Occupational Safety and Health Act, “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19.” US Department of Labor, OSHA 3990 – 2020.

National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), “Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
LINK
. Accessed 15 April 2020.

National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), “Cleaning and Disinfection for Community Facilities.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
LINK
. Accessed 15 April 2020.

National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD), “Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers to Plan and Respond to Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
LINK
. Accessed 15 April 2020.

“COVID-19: General Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting for Non-Health Care Settings.” The NYC Health Department.

Written By

Galit M. Sacajiu, MD, MPH

Director, Medical Education

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Doctor Galit M. Sacajiu article

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