The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released updated guidance to help facility operators and families properly clean and disinfect spaces. The guidance provides step-by-step instructions for public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools, and homes, and falls in line with the Opening Up America Again guidelines.
“These guidelines will provide all Americans with information they need to help the country reopen as safely as possible,” said Andrew Wheeler, EPA administrator. “These cleaning and disinfecting protocols will help ensure the health and safety of everyone in our homes, schools, offices and businesses.”
“Proper and effective cleaning and disinfecting are important to help prevent the spread of COVID-19,” said Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the CDC. “As our nation re-opens, this guidance is critical to help Americans return as safely as possible to work, school, and other daily activities within their communities.”
Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces is an important two-step process central to any effort to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19:
- Clean—Use soap and water to remove germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. It lowers the risk of spreading infection.
- Disinfect—Use disinfectant products to kill germs on surfaces. By killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
EPA has compiled a list of disinfectant products, including ready-to-use sprays, concentrates, and wipes, that can be used against COVID-19. Users should always follow the product label instructions and safety information, including leaving the product on the surface long enough to kill germs, rinsing off the product to avoid ingesting it, and putting the product out of reach of children right away.
In addition, it is not advisable to over-use or stockpile disinfectants or personal protective equipment (e.g., gloves). This can result in shortages of critical products needed for emergencies. In the event that disinfectant products on the EPA list are not available, the guidance provides other techniques for disinfecting surfaces that are as effective in reducing the risk of exposure to COVID-19.
This guidance does not replace other measures that still need to be taken to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19. It is important to continue to practice social distancing, wear cloth face coverings, and wash hands frequently.
The new guidance is available at www.epa.gov/coronavirus/guidance-cleaning-and-disinfecting-public-spaces-workplaces-businesses-schools-and-homes.