A Quick Guide to Coronavirus / COVID-19 Decontamination Procedures

by | Apr 23, 2020

As frontliners continue to battle the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, various companies in various industries are finding ways to support this battle, however they can. This includes environmental and industrial services companies, who can play a key role in decontaminating spaces and giving people who will enter those spaces great peace of mind.

By providing decontamination procedures and preventive cleaning services to facilities and institutions, companies can do their bit. When this work is done well, frontliners can work in properly sanitized environments using sterile materials, and most effectively battle the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19).

Various LiquidFrameworks users are hard at work on coronavirus decontamination procedures. Based on their experiences, and the best research, here are some tips for best practices:

Basic Preparations

The Arizona State University has released a comprehensive document of interim decontamination procedures to serve as guidance for enterprises that want to offer effective decontamination procedures. The guidelines are based on the ASU Health Services recommendations and CDC guidelines.

The document details the first steps to take before commencing the clean-up work. These steps should be strictly enforced, especially if the facility in question was exposed to suspected or confirmed cases of the Coronavirus. The following must be observed before starting decontamination procedures:

  1. Ensure that the affected person has vacated the space.

  2. Close off areas used by the affected persons and lock or restrict access.

  3. Wait for a recommended amount of time before proceeding to cleaning and disinfection, to reduce potential exposure to respiratory droplets. If possible, wait a minimum of 3 hours up to 24 hours before beginning cleaning and disinfection.

  4. Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation in the area.

Personnel assigned to the clean-up activities must be required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE). These include disposable face shields, gloves, gowns or suits, and N95 respirators or surgical masks. All disposables used for sanitation and disinfection should be treated as biohazard waste and be disposed of properly. Used disposable materials should not be reused.

Aside from PPEs, companies should take into account the disinfectants and cleaning agents to be used in the decontamination procedures. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a list of EPA-registered disinfectants for cleaning and disinfection activities against the COVID-19.

If commercially-prepared disinfectants are not available, the World Health Organization (WHO) has shared this interim guidance document on creating a disinfecting solution from bleach for long-term care facilities:

“If commercially prepared hospital-grade disinfectants are not available, long-term care facilities (LTCFs) may use a diluted concentration of bleach to disinfect the environment. The minimum concentration of chlorine should be 5000 ppm or 0.5% (equivalent to a 1:9 dilution of 5% concentrated liquid bleach).”

The logistics involved with just the preparations can sound overwhelming. The right job tracking software, to track both equipment and personnel in the field, can help. Having an accurate account of who and what goes where helps the operation run smoothly and efficiently. Such a mobile workforce management solution also drastically reduces the risk of Coronavirus exposure to your employees.

Proceeding with Decontamination

Different clients and facilities will need different approaches with decontamination procedures aimed at combating Coronavirus. However, there are some best practices and general rules to follow when cleaning surfaces that were possibly exposed.

For hard, non-porous surfaces (eg. floors, ceilings, window sills, doors, handrails, and more):

  • If they are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

  • When disinfecting surfaces, pour disinfectant onto a cleaning cloth and gently wipe surfaces. Allow to completely dry.

  • For hand-contact surfaces like doors and railings, follow up with another disinfecting cloth or disposable disinfecting wipes. For hard floors, proceed with wet mopping and wet vacuuming.

  • Disinfectant solutions used for mopping, as well as soiled cloths and mop heads, must be replaced regularly after every three or four rooms, at no longer than one-hour intervals.

  • Washable and reusable cloths and mop heads shouldn’t be left soaking in dirty solutions. Decontaminate by immersing them in 10% bleach solution (one-part concentrated bleach to nine parts water) for a contact time of 20 minutes. Then rinse with cool water and allow to dry completely before reuse.

  • After cleaning, place disposable cloths, wipes, mop heads, and PPE into a plastic bag.  Double bag biohazardous waste before final disposal into a labeled biohazardous waste bag.

  • Wash hands and forearms thoroughly, or scrub, for at least 20 seconds with soap and warm water after removing PPE.

  • Keep a log of locations and surfaces that are cleaned with the date and time and personnel’s initials. An effective job tracking software will speed up this process.

For soft, porous surfaces (eg. carpeted floor, rugs, drapes, and furniture):

  • Remove visible contamination if present and clean with appropriate cleaners for such surfaces.

  • If items can be laundered, follow manufacturer’s laundry instructions and dry them completely. Otherwise, use EPA-approved cleaning products that are suitable for such surfaces.

For electronics (eg. tablets, touchscreens, keyboards, remote controls, and such):

  • Remove visible contamination, if present.

  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products. If no manufacturer guidance is available, consider using alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens. Dry surfaces thoroughly to avoid pooling of liquids.

  • Consider the use of wipeable covers for electronics.

For linens, clothing, and other laundry items:

  • Do not shake dirty laundry to minimize the possibility of spreading the virus.

  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions with regards to washing the items, and dry them completely.

  • Clean and disinfect hampers or other carts used to transport laundry. Follow decontamination procedures above regarding hard or soft surfaces.

Everyone is doing their part to combat the Coronavirus pandemic. At LiquidFrameworks, we are pleased we can do our bit to help, by providing efficient field operations assistance to companies carrying out crucial decontamination work.