On April 29, 2020, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released updated guidance to give assistance to facility operators and families on how to clean and disinfect spaces properly. Developed in cooperation with the White House, the updated guidance provides step-by-step instructions for public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools, and homes, and falls in line with the Opening up America Again guidelines, the three-phased approach, based on the advice of public health experts, to help state and local officials when reopening its economies, getting people back to work, and continuing to protect American lives.
The comprehensive plan was developed in consultation with EPA’s expertise on the safe and effective use of disinfectants against the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The guidance offers a three-step process for preparing spaces for reopening:
- Develop a plan
- Determine what needs to be cleaned;
- Determine how areas will be disinfected; and
- Consider the resources and equipment needed.
- Implement the plan
- Clean visibly dirty surfaces with soap and water;
- Use the appropriate cleaning or disinfectant product; and
- Always follow the directions on the label.
- Maintain and revise the plan
- Continue routine cleaning and disinfection;
- Maintain safe practices; and
- Continue practices that reduce the potential for exposure.
EPA states that cleaning and disinfecting surfaces is an important, two-step process essential to any effort to reduce the risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
- Clean: Use soap and water to remove germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. It lowers the risk of spreading infection.
- Disinfect: Use disinfectant products to kill germs on surfaces. By killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
EPA has compiled a list of disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2, List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2, which include ready-to-use sprays, concentrates, and wipes. EPA emphasizes to follow the product label instructions and safety information, including leaving the product on the surface long enough to kill germs, rinsing off the product to avoid ingesting it, and putting the product out of reach of children right away.
EPA also states that it is important to avoid over-using or stockpiling disinfectants or personal protective equipment, which can result in shortages of critical products needed for emergencies. In the event that disinfectant products on the EPA list are not available, the guidance provides other techniques for disinfecting surfaces that are as effective in reducing the risk of exposure to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
EPA’s guidance documents are available here.