Cleaning and disinfecting to prevent the spread of coronavirus


The virus that causes COVID-19 can remain on surfaces for several hours, according to officials.

Cleaning surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for the prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households as well as community settings, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Cleaning includes removing germs and dirt from surfaces. Although cleaning does not kill germs, by removing them it lowers the risk of spreading infection.

“Ideally, it is a good idea to clean your water bottle at the end of each day,” says Eric Hansen, the Director at Nalgene Outdoors.

The virus is believed to mainly spread through respiratory droplets created when an infected person coughs or sneezes, according to the CDC.

“I don’t think that people’s office water bottles are going to be the way that this pandemic unfolds. It’s coughs and sneezes,” said Amesh Adalja, an infectious-disease expert at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security in an interview with the Huffington Post. “But there are people that are worried about the most esoteric means of transmission, and I think that kind of detracts from the main message here, that this is a respiratory virus: Wash your hands, don’t touch your face, cover your coughs.”

If you have a hands-free electronic drinks dispenser at work, you should have no problem with continuing to stick your water bottle underneath, Adalja said.

However, if you have a water cooler or coffee pot, be conscientious about not touching it.

“You should not touch water jugs or coffee spouts with your used bottles or cups in any event,” said Erin Sorrell, an assistant research professor at Georgetown University’s department of microbiology and immunology. “During this outbreak, it’s smart to rinse and wash your reusable cups after each use.”

If you want to maintain the hygiene of your reusable bottles, coffee mugs, and bowls for eating and drinking at work, keep washing them daily with dish soap and warm water, regardless of an outbreak, Sorrell said. She noted that if you use a sponge at work, “Make sure the sponge is cleaned daily with hot water and allowed to dry before the next use.”

Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. Disinfecting does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

Residents can routinely clean frequently touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, toilets, faucets, and sinks using household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants that are appropriate for the surface by following label instructions.

How to clean and disinfect:

  • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Gloves should be discarded after each cleaning. If reusable gloves are used, those gloves should be dedicated for cleaning and disinfection of surfaces for COVID-19 and should not be used for other purposes. Consult the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfection products used. Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed.
  • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
  • For disinfection, diluted household bleach solutions, alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol, and most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.
    • Diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application and proper ventilation. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted.
      • Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:
        • 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per gallon of water or
        • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
    • Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens are expected to be effective against COVID-19 based on data for harder to kill viruses. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., concentration, application method and contact time, etc.).
  • For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes, remove visible contamination if present and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces. After cleaning:
    • Launder items as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely, or use products with the EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens claims that are suitable for porous surfaces.

For information on laundry and hand washing, check out the CDC. The CDC also has a Checklist for Individuals and Families.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases

Coronavirus News

More Coronavirus

Donate Today