Cleaning and Disinfection for Households During the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic
Southwest Physical Therapy helps you, our family of valued patients, and your entire beloved family, stay safe during this pandemic with the following important preventive information from our health officials, that shows you how to properly take care of yourselves.
Interim Recommendations for U.S. Households with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
There is much to learn about the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). Based on what is currently known about COVID-19, spread from person-to-person of this virus happens most frequently among close contacts (within about 6 feet). This type of transmission occurs via respiratory droplets. On the other hand, transmission of novel coronavirus to persons from surfaces contaminated with the virus has not been documented. Recent studies indicate that people who are infected but do not have symptoms likely also play a role in the spread of COVID-19. Transmission of coronavirus occurs much more commonly through respiratory droplets than through objects and surfaces, like doorknobs, countertops, keyboards, toys, etc. Current evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings. Disinfectants are meant to kill germs or viruses on hard surfaces; under no circumstances should they ever be used on one’s skin, ingested or injected internally. Always store products used for cleaning and disinfecting up and out of reach of children. If you still have questions about a product’s specific effectiveness, check out the product or company website, which can provide additional information.
It is unknown how long the air inside a room occupied by someone with confirmed COVID-19 remains potentially infectious. Facilities will need to consider factors such as the size of the room and the ventilation system design (including flow rate [air changes per hour] and location of supply and exhaust vents) when deciding how long to close off rooms or areas used by ill persons before beginning disinfection. Taking measures to improve ventilation in an area or room where someone was ill or suspected to be ill with COVID-19 will help shorten the time it takes respiratory droplets to be removed from the air.
This guidance provides recommendations on the cleaning and disinfection of households where persons under investigation (PUI) or those with confirmed COVID-19 reside or may be in self- isolation. It is aimed at limiting the survival of the virus in the environment. These recommendations will be updated if additional information becomes available.
These guidelines are focused on household settings and are meant for the general public.
- Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. It does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
- Disinfecting refers to using chemicals, for example, EPA-registered disinfectants, 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. There are a number of disinfectant and cleaning products that can be effective against the novel coronavirus on hard, nonporous surfaces, in accordance with the EPA Viral Emerging Pathogen Policy.
EPA-registered disinfectant products to use against Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
There is also an app for finding this information.
General recommendations for routine cleaning and disinfection of households
- Community members must practice routine cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks, and electronics (see below for special electronics cleaning and disinfection instructions)) with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants that are appropriate for the surface, following label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
- For electronics follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products. Consider the use of wipeable covers for electronics. If no manufacturer guidance is available, consider the use of alcohol-based wipes or spray containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens. Dry surfaces thoroughly to avoid pooling of liquids.
General recommendations for cleaning and disinfection of households with people isolated in home care (e.g. suspected/confirmed to have COVID-19)
- Household members should educate themselves about COVID-19 symptoms and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in homes.
- Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces daily in household common areas (e.g. tables, hard-backed chairs, doorknobs, light switches, phones, tablets, touch screens, remote controls, keyboards, handles, desks, toilets, sinks)
- In the bedroom/bathroom dedicated for an ill person: consider reducing cleaning frequency to as-needed (e.g., soiled items and surfaces) to avoid unnecessary contact with the ill person.
- As much as possible, an ill person should stay in a specific room and away from other people in their home, following home care guidance.
- The caregiver can provide personal cleaning supplies for an ill person’s room and bathroom, unless the room is occupied by a child or another person for whom such supplies would not be appropriate. These supplies include tissues, paper towels, cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants.
- If a separate bathroom is not available, the bathroom should be cleaned and disinfected after each use by an ill person. If this is not possible, the caregiver should wait as long as practical after use by an ill person to clean and disinfect the high-touch surfaces.
- Household members should follow home care guidance when interacting with persons with suspected/confirmed COVID-19 and their isolation rooms/bathrooms.
How to clean and disinfect
Cleaning and disinfecting tips to remember:
- Pre-clean any surfaces prior to disinfecting to remove any excess dirt or grime.
- After disinfecting, let the surface air dry as recommended on the product label.
- If disinfecting food contact surfaces or toys, rinse with water after they air dry.
- Pay particular attention to disinfecting things that come into frequent contact with your hands, like your phone.
- If using a disinfectant wipe, throw out after using. Do not flush any non-flushable products.
Hard (Non-porous) Surfaces
- Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. 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. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfection products used. Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed.
- If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
Always read and follow the directions on the label to ensure safe and effective use.
- Wear skin protection and consider eye protection for potential splash hazards
- Ensure adequate ventilation
- Use no more than the amount recommended on the label
- Use water at room temperature for dilution (unless stated otherwise on the label)
- Avoid mixing chemical products
- Label diluted cleaning solutions
- Store and use chemicals out of the reach of children and pets
You should never eat, drink, breathe or inject these products into your body or apply directly to your skin as they can cause serious harm. Do not wipe or bathe pets with these products or any other products that are not approved for animal use.
Special considerations should be made for people with asthma and they should not be present when cleaning and disinfecting is happening as this can trigger asthma exacerbations. To learn more about reducing asthma triggers: https://www.cdc.gov/asthma/reduce_triggers.html
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products. Read the product label for the correct concentration to use, application method, and contact time.
- Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted:
- Use bleach containing 5.25%–8.25% sodium hypochlorite. Do not use a bleach product if the percentage is not in this range or is not specified.
- Follow the manufacturer’s application instructions for the surface, ensuring a contact time of at least 1 minute.
- Ensure proper ventilation during and after application.
- Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date.
- Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. This can cause fumes that may be very dangerous to breathe in.
- Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
- 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) of 5.25–8.25% bleach per gallon of room temperature water or
- 4 teaspoons of 5.25–8.25% bleach per quart of room temperature water
- Bleach solutions will be effective for disinfection up to 24 hours.
- Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol may also be used.
Soft (Porous) Surfaces
- 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.
- For electronics such as cell phones, tablets, touch screens, remote controls, and keyboards, remove visible contamination if present.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products.
- Consider the use of wipeable covers for electronics.
- If no manufacturer guidance is available, consider the use of alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens. Dry surfaces thoroughly to avoid pooling of liquids.
Linens, clothing, and other items that go in the laundry
- Wear disposable gloves when handling dirty laundry from an ill person and then discard 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. Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed.
- If no gloves are used when handling dirty laundry, be sure to wash hands afterwards.
- 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.
Hand hygiene and other preventive measures
- Household members should clean hands often, including immediately after removing gloves and after contact with an ill person, by washing hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not available and hands are not visibly dirty, an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol may be used. However, if hands are visibly dirty, always wash hands with soap and water.
- Household members should follow normal preventive actions while at work and home including recommended hand hygiene and avoiding touching eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
- Additional key times to clean hands include:
- After blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After using the restroom
- Before and after eating or preparing food
- After contact with animals or pets or handling pet food
- Before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance (e.g. a child)
- After touching garbage or diapers
- The ill person should eat/be fed in their room if possible. Non-disposable food service items used should be handled with gloves and washed with hot water or in a dishwasher. Clean hands after handling used food service items.
- If possible, dedicate a lined trash can for the ill person. Use gloves when removing garbage bags, handling, and disposing of trash. Wash hands after handling or disposing of trash.
- Consider consulting with your local health department about trash disposal guidance if available.
Key Times to Clean Outside The Home
- At School: Watch our on-demand webinar on cleaning and hand hygiene for reopening schools.
- At Work: Always wash hands before eating and after using the bathroom. If you’re not near a sink, use hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Try not to share food and routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces. Stay home if sick and encourage colleagues to do the same.
- When You Have to Go Out: Avoid touching your face after contact with frequently-touched surfaces. Consider using an antibacterial wipe on the grocery cart handle, especially if a child will be riding in the cart. If using reusable bags, be sure to wash them when you get home.
- During Essential Travel: Stay at least 6 feet away from anyone who is sneezing, coughing or blowing their nose. At the airport, wash your hands after going through security and after getting off the plane.
Coronavirus Cleaning FAQ
Get answers to frequently asked questions from our cleaning experts!
For businesses returning to the workplace, we’ve created a free online Healthy Returns toolkit with resources on cleaning and disinfecting effectively to help ensure a safe and successful reopening.