COVID-19 Best Cleaning Practices

COVID-19 and Cleaning Best Practices Overview

What We Know About COVID-19

COVID-19 is an “Envelope Virus”

Lipid Virus – Virus surrounded by an envelope of lipoprotein in addition to the usual core of nucleic acid surrounded by a coat of protein. This type of virus (e.g., HIV) is generally easily inactivated by many types of disinfectants. Also called enveloped or lipophilic virus. (CDC, 2016)

Non-lipid Virus – generally considered more resistant to inactivation than lipid viruses. Also called non-enveloped or hydrophilic viruses. (CDC, 2016)

Viruses that have a lipid membrane. Many enveloped viruses, such as HBV, HCV, HIV and influenza viruses, are pathogenic to humans and of clinical importance. The lipid envelope of these viruses is relatively sensitive and thus can be destroyed by alcohols such as ethanol or 2-propanol. Enveloped viruses can be killed by disinfectants that are virucidal against enveloped viruses. (Bode Science Center, n.d.)

How long does it live?

Current evidence suggests that novel coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. (CDC, 2020, March 6)

Overall, stability is very similar between HCoV-19 and SARS-CoV-1. We found that viable virus could be detected in aerosols up to 3 hours post aerosolization, up to 4 hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel. HCoV-19 and SARS-CoV- 1 exhibited similar half-lives in aerosols, with median estimates around 2.7 hours.

Both viruses show relatively long viability on stainless steel and polypropylene compared to copper or cardboard: the median half-life estimate for HCoV-19 is around 13 hours on steel and around 16 hours on polypropylene. Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of
HCoV-19 is plausible, as the virus can remain viable in aerosols for multiple hours and on surfaces up to days. (van Doremalen et al., 2020)

HCoV-19 was most stable on plastic and stainless steel and viable virus could be detected up to 72 hours post application (Figure 1B), though by then the virus titer was greatly reduced (polypropylene from 103.7 to 100.6 TCID50/mL after 72 hours, stainless steel from 103.7 to 100.6 TCID50/mL after 48 hours, mean across three replicates).

SARS-CoV-1 had similar stability kinetics and live virus could be detected on these surfaces up
to 72 hours on polypropylene and 48 hours on stainless steel (polypropylene from 03.4 to 100.7 TCID50/mL after 7 2 hours, stainless steel from 103.6 to 100.6 TCID50/mL after 48 hours, mean across three replicates). No viable virus could be measured after 4 hours on copper for HCoV-19 and 8 hours for SARS-CoV-1, or after 24 hours on cardboard for HCoV-19 and 8 hours for SARS-CoV-1. (van Doremalen et al., 2020)

What inactivates or “kills” COVID-19?

Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens claims are expected to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 based on data for harder to kill viruses. (#6 OSHA, 2020, p.9)

SARS-CoV-2 is an emerging viral pathogen and no product has been absolutely proven to inactivate and has a direct claim. Test methods have yet to be developed. However, in this case the CDC will recommend the use of US EPA registered disinfectants. The US EPA has guidance in place for emerging viral pathogens for to make product recommendations. SARS-CoV- 2 is an enveloped virus.

From a surface disinfection perspective enveloped viruses are easier to inactivate than large non-enveloped viruses and small non-enveloped viruses. If a surface disinfectant inactivates 1 or more nonenveloped viruses it qualifies to be listed as effective against the emerging pathogen, SARS-CoV-2. (EPA, 2016)

Contact time needed?
Varies based on product being used.

How is COVID-19 transmitted?

Close contacts, within 6 feet, via respiratory drops
(CDC, 2020, March 6; Zaccarina & Rodriguez, 2020)

Transmission from surfaces has not been documented (CDC, 2020, March 6)

Much is unknown about how the virus that causes COVID-19 spreads. Current knowledge is largely based on what is known about similar coronaviruses.
(CDC, 2020, February 26)

Dr. Martin S. Hirsch, senior physician in the Infectious Diseases Services at Massachusetts General Hospital, said there’s still a lot to learn but experts suspect the virus may act similarly to SARS-CoV from 13 years ago.
(Zaccarina & Rodriguez, 2020)

Hygiene helps!

Wash hands for 20 seconds or use a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer (CDC, 2020, March 6)
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth (CDC, 2020, March 6)

Terminology for sanitize, disinfect, and sterilize.

Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection. (CDC, 2018)

Agent that reduces the number of bacterial contaminants to safe levels as judged by public health requirements. Commonly used with substances applied to inanimate objects. According to the protocol for the official sanitizer test, a sanitizer is a chemical that kills 99.999% of the specific test bacteria in 30 seconds under the conditions of the test. (CDC, 2016)

A substance, or mixture of substances, that reduces the bacteria population in the inanimate environment by significant numbers, but does not destroy or eliminate all bacteria.
(Code of Federal Regulations, 2018)

Thermal or chemical destruction of pathogenic and other types of microorganisms. Disinfection is less lethal than sterilization because it destroys most recognized pathogenic microorganisms but not necessarily all microbial forms (e.g., bacterial spores). (CDC, 2016)

A substance or mixture of substances, that destroys or irreversibly inactivates
bacteria, fungi, and viruses, but not necessarily bacterial spores, in the
inanimate environment. (Code of Federal Regulations, 2018)

Sterilization – Validated process used to render a product free of all forms of viable microorganisms. In a sterilization process, the presence of microorganisms on any individual item can be expressed in terms of probability. Although this probability can be reduced to a very low number, it can never be reduced to zero. (CDC, 2016)

Contact Time – Time a disinfectant is in direct contact with the surface or item to be disinfected. For surface disinfection, this period is framed by the application to the surface until complete drying has occurred. (CDC, 2016)

For commercial products, this simply means that disinfectants provide a higher level of demonstrable microbial load reduction than sanitizers. Product performance guidelines are outlined by EPA in Product Performance Test Guidelines OCSPP 810.2300 (sanitization) and OCSPP 810.2200 (disinfection). These guidelines are summarized below, with minimum surface contact times indicated in parentheses. Clean, then disinfect.

  • Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings. (CDC, 2020, March 6)
  • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection. (CDC, 2020, March 6)
  • Do not mix cleaners and disinfectants unless the labels indicate it is safe to do so. Combining certain products (such as chlorine bleach and ammonia cleaners) can result in serious injury or death. (CDC, 2018)
  • Because the transmissibility of COVID-19 from contaminated environmental surfaces and objects is not fully understood, employers should carefully evaluate whether or not work areas occupied by people suspected to have virus may have been contaminated and whether or not they need to be decontaminated in response. (OSHA, 2020)
  • Outside of healthcare and healthcare facilities, there is typically no need to perform special cleaning or decontamination of work environments when a person suspected of having the virus has been present, unless those environments are visibly contaminated with blood or other body fluids. In limited cases where further cleaning and decontamination may be necessary, consult U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance for cleaning and disinfecting environments, including those contaminated with other coronavirus. (OSHA, 2020)
  • Routinely clean all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace, such as workstations, countertops, and doorknobs. Use the cleaning agents that are usually used in these areas and follow the directions on the label. (CDC, 2020)
  • As always it is recommended to clean first clean then sanitize or disinfect. Some disinfectants, such as Vital Oxide, have a one step-cleaning and disinfection claim. Products such as these can have a combined cleaning and disinfection step. It is still recommended to first remove any gross visible soil on fomites. General cleaning practices for surfaces, such as counters and high touchpoints.
  • Typically, this means daily sanitizing surfaces and objects that are touched often, such as desks, countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, hands-on learning items, faucet handles, phones, and toys. Some schools may also require daily disinfecting these items. Standard procedures often call for disinfecting specific areas of the school, like bathrooms. (CDC, 2018)

Best practices for cleaning

Pressure wash outside surfaces with hot water and high pressure before disinfection.

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. (CDC, 2020, March 6)

Use products with the EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens claims that are suitable for porous surfaces. (CDC, 2020, March 6)

Use HEPA filters for containment of any air exiting the system.

According to the National Library of Medicine, the particle size of the COVID virus is 125nm or equivalent to 0.125 microns. Our HEPA products clean the air to 0.03 Microns at 99.97% (HEPA Guidelines), so our vacuums actually help to reduce the virus in the air through the filtration process. (National Center for Biotechnology, 2016).

Cleaning Products Available from SCE:

SCE SurfaceClean™ Soap Infused Cleaner/Degreaser:

SCE SurfaceClean™ is a soap infused cleaner and degreaser capable of re¬moving microparticles, oil, and grease from surfaces such as metal, wood and more. SurfaceClean™ fully prepares a surface for the use of a registered disinfectant or sanitizer. Cleaning with SurfaceClean™ followed by rinsing with hot water (160° F or more) will passivate surfaces from harmful bacteria or viruses per WHO (World Health Organization) guidelines. SurfaceClean™ is biodegradable, non-phosphate, and does not contain pe¬troleum solvents.


  • USDA Certified for use in food facilities
  • Compatible with quaternary ammonium disinfectants such as Aspen One Step and Vital Oxide
  • Soap infused formula
  • Biodegradable
  • Fully prepares surfaces for disinfection or sanitation
  • Removes microparticles and cuts through oil, film and grease
  • Exceptional equipment, painted surface and floor cleaner
  • Versatile solution. Can be applied in dilutions from 64:1 to 1:1

Aspen One Step Disinfectant Cleaner & Deodorizer Ready To Use:

  • A phosphate-free, pH neutral formulation designed to provide effective cleaning, deodorizing, and disinfection.
  • Clear green liquid with a pleasant scent

Description: For hospitals, nursing homes, schools, Supermarkets, food service establishments, office buildings, manufacturing facilities, lodging establishments, retail business, athletic/recreation facilities and convention centers where housekeeping is of prime importance in controlling cross-contamination from treated surfaces. A one step neutral disinfectant that is effective against a broad spectrum of bacteria, is virucidal (including HIV-1, HIV-2, HBV and HCV) and inhibits the growth of mold and mildew and their odors when used as directed. When used as directed, is formulated to disinfect the following hard non-porous inanimate environmental surfaces: floors, walls, metal surfaces, stainless steel surfaces, tables, chairs, desks, bed frames, walls, cabinets, doorknobs, garbage cans, glazed ceramic tile, plastic surfaces, obstacle course play equipment, exercise equipment, exercise and wrestling mats, shower stalls, bathtubs, toilets and urinals.

Disinfection: Apply solution with a mop, cloth, sponge, hand pump trigger sprayer or low pressure coarse sprayer so as to wet all surfaces thoroughly. Allow to remain wet for 10 minutes, then remove excess liquid. For sprayer applications, spray 6-8 inches from surface, rub with brush, sponge or cloth. Do not breathe spray mist. For heavily soiled areas, a pre-cleaning step is required. Prepare a fresh solution for each use.

To Disinfect Restaurant Food Contact Surfaces: countertops, appliances, and tables. For heavily soiled areas, a pre-cleaning step is required. Apply solution with a cloth, sponge or hand pump trigger sprayer so as to wet all surfaces thoroughly. Allow the surface to remain wet for 10 minutes, then remove excess liquid and rinse the surface with potable water. This product cannot be used to clean the following food contact surfaces: utensils, glassware and dishes.

Vital Oxide:

For Vital Oxide recommended use is a 10-minute contact time at the undiluted disinfectant level concentration. Vital Solutions, in currently in process for the EPA emerging viral pathogens for the product Vital Oxide 82972-1. The CDX number is CDX_2020_001747 and the EP number is 745699

Registered as a carpet Sanitizer, so it could be used to sanitize all soft surfaces such as carpet or leather. Needs 60 minutes of contact time. Test first to avoid any damage to the surface, such as color change on leather.

Vital Oxide Summary:

  • Viral disinfection: 10 minute contact time
  • Soft surface sanitization: 5 minute contact time
  • Carpet sanitization: 60 minute contact time
  • Note: there are no EPA tests for soft surface or carpet disinfection at this time.


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