LANDSTUHL, Germany – Subject matter experts from Public Health Command Europe’s Industrial Hygiene Division have developed disinfection guidance for general community settings including businesses, schools, and housing where individuals with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 have been.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, current evidence suggests that COVID-19 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. 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.
“For any household with people isolated in home care it is best if the individual stays in a specific room and does not share any common area with other household members,” according to Caroline Moseley, an industrial hygienist at PHCE.
“Cleaning removes germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces,” Moseley said. “To further lower the risk of spreading infection you will need to kill the germs on surfaces by disinfecting after cleaning. The mostly widely available and effective option is to use a simple bleach solution on any surface that is bleach safe.”
The CDC recommends to make a new bleach solution daily of five tablespoons, or a third of a cup of common household bleach (5-6.25%) per gallon of water. Even diluted bleach can irritate the skin, so it is suggested to use disposable gloves while disinfecting and to throw them away afterwards.
It is important to make sure that the bleach is not expired or mixed with other household cleaners.
“When using bleach a common mistake is to wipe the area dry when actually the surface needs stay wet with bleach solution for at least a minute and air dry. The surface can then be wiped down with a clean wet cloth to remove bleach residue,” explained Moseley.
Cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces is the key to reduce the spread of the virus, according to Moseley. She recommends people focus on tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
“There is no need to get on a stepladder and try to clean the tops of cabinets, since people aren’t likely to touch those areas,” Moseley said. “Make sure to disinfect your electronics as well. We’re constantly using our cell phones, tablets, and remotes but most people never think to clean them. Since every device is different, it is best to follow manufacturer’s instructions or use a 70 percent alcohol wipe or spray if no instructions are available.”
Moseley also cautioned that handwashing remains the most important way to keep yourself and your family healthy.
Public Health Command Europe’s Industrial Hygiene Division supports the Warfighter, enhances readiness, and preserves health of military and civilian personnel by anticipating, recognizing, evaluating, and controlling occupational health hazards.
During the recent COVID-19 outbreak, IHD has trained units across Europe on disinfection techniques for their workspaces. Among others, IHD provided guidance on approved and effective disinfectant methods for COVID-19 for general community settings including businesses, schools, and housing across the footprint.
For the latest guidance on how to properly disinfect your home, visit https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/cleaning-disinfection.html and https://www.americanchemistry.com/Novel-Coronavirus-Fighting-Products-List.pdf for a list of products that have been approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for use against COVID-19.