The first steps in COVID compliant cleaning are to close off areas, increase ventilation (either by opening windows/doors or using ventilation fans) and wait as long as practical to give germs the time to dissipate. Properly trained cleaning staff should wear personal protection equipment and clean all areas, especially high touch surfaces like tablets, keyboards, door handles, chairs, etc. Gloves should be carefully removed, changed, and hands washed (for a minimum of 20 seconds following proper handwashing protocol) after cleaning each room or area.
- Hard surfaces should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water. Most EPA approved household disinfectants on list N will be suitable as long as manufacturer’s instructions are followed concerning application and contact time. As cleaning supplies can be tough to find right now, diluted bleach solutions can be used by following proper mixing and application instructions (5 tablespoons (1/3 cup bleach per gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water).
- For soft (porous) surfaces like carpet, clean/launder with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces. After cleaning, use EPA approved household disinfectant appropriate for surface material.
- For electronics such as touch screens and cell phones, remove any visible contamination and use alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens.
- For linen/clothing (items to be laundered), do not shake dirty laundry and risk dispersing the virus in the air. Wash in the warmest appropriate setting and dry completely. Clean and disinfect hampers.
Where Do We Go From Here?
Experts have described five phases of this pandemic: rapid spread, flattening, recovery, revitalization, restoration. During the rapid spread period, as indicated by the name, the virus is rapidly infecting the population and there is a high number of patients being admitted to the hospital. During this phase, the majority of states issued stay at home orders and closed everything except essential businesses. During the flattening phase, the rate of infection and the number of patients admitted increases at a much slower rate, “flattening the curve”. This occurred a few weeks ago and Georgia and Texas entered Phase 1 of reopening the economy by allowing curbside pickup and delivery. During recovery, the rate of infection and the number of patients admitted is stable or declining. Texas has started to enter Phase 2 of reopening during this period. This includes restaurants increasing occupancy, salons, child care centers, and gyms reopening with reduced capacity and other safety precautions after a thorough COVID compliant cleaning. During revitalization, the rate of infection and the number of patients admitted will continue to decline. Social gatherings, events and other business restrictions will continue to be lifted in phases as long as there is not a spike in cases. The final stage of restoration will not/cannot occur until there is a vaccine developed, medical professionals have found an effective treatment that is widely available or we have developed herd immunity. When that occurs, we will be able to fully reopen the economy and adjust to our new normal of life after COVID 19.