When and How to Clean and Disinfect a Facility | Water, Sanitation, and Environmentally Related Hygiene
When to Disinfect
In addition to cleaning, disinfect areas of your facility where people have obviously been ill (for example, vomiting on facility surfaces). If the space is a high-traffic area, you may choose to clean more frequently or disinfect in addition to cleaning. During certain disease outbreaks, local health authorities might recommend specific disinfection procedures to reduce the risk of spreading disease within the facility.
How to Disinfect Safely
To disinfect, use an EPA-registered disinfecting product for the specific harmful germ (such as viruses or bacteria) if known. Not all disinfectants are effective for all harmful germs.
Clean the surface with soap and water first. Always read the label on disinfecting products to make sure the products can be used on the type of surface you are disinfecting (such as a hard or soft surface, food contact surface, or residual surface).
Follow these important safety guidelines when using chemical disinfectants:
- Open doors and windows and use fans or HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) settings to increase air circulation in the area.
- Wear the recommended protective equipment (for example, gloves or goggles) to protect your skin and eyes from potential splashes, as recommended by Section 8 of the product’s Safety Data Sheet. (PDF – 7 pages)
- After you apply the disinfectant to the surface, leave the disinfectant on the surface long enough to kill the germs. This is called the contact/wet time. You can find the contact time listed in the Safety Data Sheet and in the directions. The surface should stay wet during the entire contact time to make sure germs are killed.
- Ensure safe use and proper storage of cleaning and disinfection products, including storing them securely and using PPE needed for the products.
- If the product instructions tell you to dilute the product with water, use water at room temperature (unless the label says otherwise). Note: Disinfectants activated or diluted with water may have a shorter shelf life.
- Clearly label all cleaning or disinfection solutions.
- Store and use chemicals out of the reach of children and animals.
- Do not mix products or chemicals with each other as this could be hazardous and change the chemical properties.
- Do not eat, drink, or breathe cleaning or disinfection products into your body or apply directly to your skin. These products can cause serious harm.
- Do not wipe or bathe pets with any disinfection products.
- Immediately after disinfecting, wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds.
In most cases, fogging, fumigation, and wide-area or electrostatic spraying are not recommended as primary methods of surface disinfection and have several safety risks, unless the product label says these methods can be used.
See EPA’s Cleaning and Disinfecting Best Practices (PDF – 1 page)