As companies and workers return to business, disinfection and frequent cleaning is still absolutely necessary. As you likely know, the COVID-19 virus is known to live on surfaces for hours, if not days, which means that proper disinfection is essential to the safety of your workplace.
To make sure your workplace is as safe and as clean as possible, here’s what you need to know about disinfectants that work against the virus that causes COVID-19, and how to use them safely.
General Guidelines for Effective Disinfectants That Work Against the COVID-19 Virus
To disinfect at work, follow your employer’s guidance on which chemicals to use, and review the Safety Data Sheet for handling the disinfectant safely. Here are a few general guidelines to keep in mind about effective disinfectants that work against the COVID-19 virus.
General Disinfectant Solutions and Guidelines for Proper Use
Again, your employer should have approved chemicals on-site for proper disinfection. Alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol are approved to neutralize the virus, as is diluted household bleach. Here are a few guidelines to follow if using bleach as a disinfectant.
- Make sure bleach is appropriate for the surface you plan to clean. As a harsh chemical, bleach can stain and eat away at some materials. First, check to ensure that bleach is appropriate for the surface you are cleaning before you use it as your disinfectant.
- Make sure bleach is unexpired. Expired bleach will not provide the same effectiveness as a disinfectant. If the bleach you have on hand is expired, choose a different disinfectant, or find an unexpired bleach to use.
- Do not mix with ammonia or any other cleaner.
- Prepare a bleach solution. Bleach should be diluted to function as a safe, effective disinfectant. Prepare a bleach solution by mixing 5T bleach per gallon of water, or 4tsp bleach per quart of water.
How to Properly Disinfect Surfaces at Work
Once you have chosen the appropriate disinfectant according to your employer’s guidelines, it’s time to start the disinfection process. Proper disinfection guidelines should always be followed. Here are a few steps to help you ensure you are disinfecting surfaces properly while keeping yourself safe as well.
Personal Protective Equipment
It is important to wear the personal protective equipment recommended by the chemical manufacturer. This information can be found on the disinfectant container or the Safety Data Sheet provided by the chemical manufacturer. Most disinfectants recommend wearing gloves while disinfecting surfaces. Gloves keep you safe from germs and infection, while also protecting your hands from harsh disinfecting solutions. If wearing disposable gloves, be sure to discard after use. If your gloves are reusable, make sure to clean them properly after use.
Follow Contact Time Guidelines
The recommended time that the surface should remain wet with the disinfectant is called the contact time. You should follow the contact time guidelines associated with the disinfectant you are using. Many products recommend keeping the surface wet for several minutes to ensure germs are killed. Be sure to look for the recommended contact time on the product label, or on the Safety Data Sheet. This will ensure the proper disinfection of all surfaces.
Wash Hands After Cleaning
When you are done disinfecting surfaces in your workplace and have removed and properly discarded gloves or cleaned your gloves, you should wash your hands. This helps ensure you are keeping yourself safe and helps prevent the spread of any germs you may have come in contact with while cleaning.
Follow recommended handwashing techniques to ensure your hands are germ-free. If you need a quick reminder, watch eSafety’s Toolbox Talk on Proper Handwashing for a short walkthrough on proper technique so your efforts are most effective.
Making Sure Your Disinfectant is Effective Against COVID-19
Your employer should provide guidance on which disinfectants to use to effectively neutralize COVID-19 germs. If you would like to learn more about the disinfectant you are using, or if you would like to apply these disinfection techniques at home, you can refer to the EPA’s website for a list of disinfectants that meet EPA’s criteria for use against the Coronavirus family of viruses.
How to Use the EPA Disinfectant List
- Type in EPA Registration Number – The easiest way to find the disinfectant you are using is to type in the EPA registration number found on the product label. This will pull up your disinfectant if it has been tested along with relevant information such as which viruses the disinfectant is effective against, contact time, the active ingredient, and more.
- Use “Other Search Options” Button – If you don’t have a disinfectant in hand, are looking for a disinfectant, or want to find a disinfectant suited to your surface, you can use the “Other Search Options” button located just below the field for the EPA Registration Number. This will allow you to search for an effective disinfectant according to your needs.
- Pay Special Attention to Contact Time – When you have located your disinfectant on the EPA’s list, pay close attention to the listed contact time. This indicates the number of minutes your surface should remain wet with disinfectant to ensure germs are killed.
Please note that the EPA is regularly updating this list with additional products as they are tested and deemed effective against the virus that causes COVID-19. This is a helpful resource for referencing which chemicals have been testing and approved for killing the virus at work, and at home. When disinfecting at work, it is always important to follow your employer’s guidelines for which chemicals to use.
The team at eSafety hopes these disinfection guidelines prove useful as you work to disinfect surfaces at your workplace. Remember that you should receive additional guidance for specific information on how to manage risk in your workplace based on what is happening in your community. It is important to stay connected with local resources such as your state and county health department for up-to-date information.
If your workplace is looking for a way to manage your safety training, the eSafety team is here to help. Our system offers the LMS you need to schedule, track, and report training, along with our full library of training courses, including a new course on COVID-19 Awareness. Please let us know how we can be of assistance to your team. Be well and be safe!