Spring Cleaning Takes on New Meaning with COVID-19

Spring Cleaning Takes on New Meaning with COVD-19
Author

For the latest information and resources on Coronavirus, please visit the RCM&D COVID-19 Resource Center at https://info.rcmd.com/covid19.

Under normal circumstances, disinfecting and cleaning the workplace is important for many businesses. In these uncertain times, it is more evident than ever. The CDC has provided interim recommendations for cleaning and disinfection that are important to follow to stay safe.

Cleaning is defined by the removal of dirt and impurities, including germs, from surfaces. Disinfecting works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily remove all dirt or germs, but should reduce the spread of infection.

As described in the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Information and Resources Hub, the New England Journal of Medicine indicates that COVID-19 can live in the air and on surfaces anywhere from several hours to several days. The study found the virus viable for up to 72 hours on plastics, 48 hours on stainless steel, 24 hours on cardboard and 4 hours on copper. In the air, it is detectable for up to three hours. Given this research, the CDC recommends regularly cleaning and disinfecting public surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks. The CDC also recommends avoiding touching high-contact surfaces in public. It is important to remember however, you are more likely to catch an infection through airborne droplets from an infected person rather than from a surface.

Before you start cleaning, be sure that proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is used.  This may include disposable gloves, gowns and goggles as well as other PPE if there is a risk of splash or spray.  Always wash hands after removing gloves and other PPE.  Be sure the area being cleaned does not have ill persons being housed or in isolation as there are other guidance requirements available for these environments.   

When cleaning during this COVID-19 outbreak, consider the following:

  • Ensure adequate ventilation is available.
  • Properly diluted bleach and water:
    • 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water or
    • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
  • Or use Products with an EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens claim
  • For porous surfaces such as carpet and drapes, the CDC states that appropriate commercial cleaning products should work.
  • Otherwise, use products with EPA-approved viral pathogen claims.

For more details on cleaning clothing and other items that can be laundered, please refer to the manufacturer’s instructions and use the warmest temperature setting appropriate.

Note: The CDC developed special guidelines for cleaning households with suspected/confirmed Coronavirus 2019 found at the link below:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/cleaning-disinfection.html

Chemical Precautions:

As many cleaning products are continually in low supply at retail stores, people may be tempted to make their own solution by mixing chemicals together. This can be a very dangerous practice. It is important to know that many chemicals are not meant or designed to be mixed with other chemicals. For your safety, it is imperative to read the directions on labels carefully.

Listed below are some common products/chemicals that should NEVER be mixed:   

NEVER Mix Bleach + Vinegar

The combination of bleach and vinegar sounds like it would be a powerful disinfectant, but the two should never be mixed together. They produce chlorine gas, which even at low levels can cause coughing, breathing problems, burns, and watery eyes.

Bleach + Ammonia

Bleach and ammonia produce a toxic gas called chloramine. It causes the same symptoms as bleach and vinegar – along with shortness of breath and chest pain. Many glass and window cleaners contain ammonia, so never mix those with bleach

Drain Cleaner + Drain Cleaner

Never mix two different drain cleaners or don’t even use one right after the other. These are powerful formulas that could explode if combined. Use one product and follow the package directions.

Bleach + Rubbing Alcohol

Although it might not make you pass out, the combination of bleach and rubbing alcohol can be irritating and toxic. Make it a rule to never mix bleach with anything but plain water. Even other products like window and toilet bowl cleaners can have ingredients like acids or ammonia that should never be mixed with bleach

Hydrogen Peroxide + Vinegar

This combination makes an acid that can be highly corrosive.

Please be cautious when cleaning and follow all CDC safety guidelines for your health and the health of others.