Cleaning during the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. A person can acquire the virus by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or eyes.

You can protect workers and others from the risk of exposure to COVID-19 by implementing appropriate cleaning and disinfecting measures for your workplace.

A combination of cleaning and disinfection will be most effective in removing the COVID-19 virus.

Cleaning and disinfecting solutions

Cleaning and disinfecting are two different processes:

Cleaning means to physically remove germs (bacteria and viruses), dirt and grime from surfaces using a detergent and water solution. A detergent is a surfactant that is designed to break up oil and grease with the use of water. Anything labelled as a detergent will work.

Disinfecting means using chemicals to kill germs (bacteria and viruses) on surfaces. It’s important to clean before disinfecting because dirt and grime can reduce the ability of disinfectants to kill germs.

For routine workplace cleaning in a non-healthcare workplace, physical cleaning with water and detergent is usually sufficient. Water and physical effort alone will not kill the COVID-19 virus.

A combination of cleaning and disinfection will be most effective in removing the COVID-19 virus in workplaces when cleaning and should be used where there is a high volume of workers, customers or visitors that are likely to touch surfaces. Please note that disinfectants require sufficient contact time to be effective at killing viruses. If no time is specified, the disinfectant should be left for ten minutes before removing. Please have a careful look at the guide on the lifespan of the virus on each surface.

Cleaning and disinfection should also be undertaken after a person with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 has recently been at the workplace. However, remember that deep cleaning is not needed if more than seven days have elapsed since the ill person was present at the workplace as the possibility of infectious SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces would be negligible. It is only required if reoccupation of the affected area is necessary for essential services to resume (i.e. in less than seven days).

Secondly, the COVID-19 positive person must have spent a considerable amount of time in workplace, touched and handled many objects, equipment and surfaces and had close contact with several co-workers.

Deep cleaning is not necessary if positive COVID-19 person simply passed through workplace without touching any surfaces or spending much time in face-to-face communication with others.

Frequency of cleaning/disinfection

  • Workplaces are to be cleaned daily, but the frequency of cleaning will increase if the workplace operates in shifts (clean between shifts) or equipment is shared (clean between uses) and/or there is likelihood of contamination, that is, suspected/confirmed case of COVID-19 at the workplace.

What disinfectant to use

A list of approved disinfectants is listed in the guide

If approved disinfectants are unavailable

  • Use 70 – 90% ethanol (or other types of alcohol such as isopropyl alcohol)
  • Use chlorine solution (sodium/calcium hypochlorite (also known as bleach / Jik)∙0.1% (1 000 ppm) for general environmental disinfection
  • 0.5% (5 000 ppm) for blood and bodily fluid spills
  • Hydrogen peroxide at ≥ 0.5%

See the guide for more details.

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