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How to Clean and Disinfect the Workplace

Professional cleaning crew wearing the proper PPE to clean and disinfect a business.

Make a Strategy

Determine how areas will be cleaned and disinfected – consider the type of surface and how often it is touched.

Consider the chemicals and equipment needed – soft surfaces, like furniture and carpets, as well as electronics will need special cleaning products. Be mindful of the cleaning or disinfecting products you have available to you, and the proper PPE specific to their use.

Maintain safe practices that reduce potential exposure - such as washing hands frequently, wearing masks, social distancing, reducing number of shared common spaces, and keeping employees’ home if they are sick.


  • When cleaning and disinfecting, wear gloves that are dedicated only for cleaning or disinfecting. Ideally these should be single use gloves and should be discarded after each use. Wash hands after removing gloves to reduce possible exposure to chemicals.
  • Clean any dirty surfaces, or surfaces you intend on disinfecting, with soap and water or a dedicated cleaning product.


Make sure you use a disinfectant listed on the EPA List N for COVID-19. Follow the instructions of your disinfectant carefully, as many products recommend to:

  • Saturating the surface with disinfectant for a period of time, also known as dwell time (specific to each disinfectant)
  • Wear PPE like gloves and a mask, and depending on the disinfectant, ensure you have proper ventilation while using the product. Open windows and use fans where possible.

Cleaning crew wearing the right PPE for commercial disinfection.

Important to Note

  • Never mix products or chemicals
  • Use only amount recommended on the label
  • Use water at room temperature for dilution (unless stated otherwise)
  • Never ingest or apply disinfectants to your skin.

If an EPA List N Disinfectant is not available, most household bleaches will do the job when diluted with water. Do not use laundry bleach, as this is not strong enough, you want your bleach to contain 5%-9% sodium hypochlorite. Make a new solution daily, as bleach is not as effective after mixed with water for more than 24 hours.

Routine cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces is recommended. Surfaces and objects in public spaces, like shopping carts, ATMs, counters, and vending machines should be cleaned and disinfected as much as possible… ideally before each use.

  • Other high touch areas: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sink fixtures

Case of Coronavirus

If there is a case of COVID-19, wait 24 hours (or as much time as possible) before cleaning and disinfecting. Prior to cleaning, close off exposed areas, open windows and use fans to circulate the air during these 24 hours. First, clean and disinfect the sick or diagnosed employee’s workspace. Vacuum if necessary and ensure the vacuum you are using is equipped with a HEPA filter and bags if possible. When vacuuming, temporarily turn off any HVAC to prevent contamination of the HVAC system.

If your facility utilizes laundry services, there are a few important things to remember. Firstly, do not shake out dirty laundry, as you could be spreading the virus throughout the air. Wear disposable gloves when washing dirty laundry from someone who has been diagnosed. Use the warmest water setting as possible while still adhering to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Clean and disinfect laundry baskets using the appropriate methods given the surface.

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