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  • Cleaning for COVID-19 in sectors outside the healthcare service

Cleaning for COVID-19 - advice for sectors outside the healthcare service

Published Updated

Advice about cleaning to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Advice about cleaning to prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2 virus.


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Cleaning reduces the contamination on an object by mechanically removing the microorganisms.

Cleaning is sufficient to reduce the risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2 in sectors outside the health service and in homes where patients have been isolated at home or in quarantine.

Survival on surfaces and textiles

The SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads primarily by droplet transmission when it is thrown into the air by sneezing or coughing. The droplets fall onto surrounding surfaces and can lead to indirect contact transmission.

Secretions from the respiratory tract (saliva, snot, mucus) may contain live viruses that can potentially survive on different types of surfaces for shorter or longer periods.

The virus' ability to survive outside the body, and the risk of infection posed by the virus will vary, and depends on conditions such as amount of respiratory secretions with live SARS-CoV-2, type of surface, temperature and humidity.

The risk of indirect contact transmission is greatest if a surface is touched immediately after it has been contaminated.

It is not yet known how large a dose of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is needed for a person to develop COVID-19 disease. Therefore, it is difficult to estimate the risk of indirect contact transmission. The virus' ability to cause disease probably decreases rapidly on surfaces, depending on the amount of virus.

With the exception of surfaces that are heavily contaminated with secretions from the respiratory tract, it is assumed that after a short time (minutes to hours), there is little risk of indirect contact transmission via contaminated objects. Good hand hygiene is the most important measure to prevent infection after contact with contaminated objects and / or surfaces in addition to systematic cleaning.

Cleaning in companies, etc.

The employer should ensure that:

  • Cleaning plans have been updated and a risk assessment of which areas should be prioritised has been carried out.
  • Responsibility for various tasks is clearly defined.
  • Resources to perform the cleaning are considered.
  • Assess the need for the use of protective equipment for employees who are to perform the cleaning. Define the situations that require the use of protective equipment and the type of equipment required.
  • Ensure training of employees in cleaning and how to use protective equipment.

Implementation

  • Ordinary cleaning routines must be followed. Daily cleaning of areas where many people pass through is recommended. Use regular cleaning products according to standard procedures.
  • With increasing disease burden, consider frequent cleaning of common contact points like door handles, toilets, washbasins, payment terminals, stair railings, armrests, and other frequently touched objects or contact surfaces, depending on the number of people and contact frequency.
  • Use disposable cloths as much as possible.
  • Clean reusable cloths according to standard routines.
  • Pay extra attention to kitchen and dining room hygiene and to toilets. Hand hygiene should be performed before using the kitchen / dining room.
  • Follow normal waste management procedures. Waste is disposed of as residual waste.
  • There is no need for hygiene checks with, for example, ATP measurements in companies that normally do not do this.

Cleaning if an employee has developed symptoms consistent with COVID-19

  • Clean the surroundings that the person with symptoms of COVID-19 has been in physical contact with, in a circumference of approx. 2 metres and over time, in the usual way before it is used by others, such as work desk, PC keyboard, armrests, office chair.
  • Hotel rooms, treatment rooms etc.,  are cleaned as normal before the next guest / customer. Common textiles are handled according to normal routines.

Cleaning during and after home isolation

  • It is not necessary to clean the room where the patient is staying before the isolation ends (10 days). If cleaning is to be carried out before the isolation ends, this should be done by the person who is isolated. Household members should avoid staying in the same room.
  • When using a shared bathroom, the patient should wipe over the toilet seat and door handle after each use, using a cloth or wet wipes.
  • Household members should perform regular cleaning in the home (kitchen, living room, bathroom).
  • Assess the need for cleaning of common contact points and surfaces (door handles, bathroom washbasin, toilet) while isolation is ongoing.

Cleaning the room where the patient has stayed is carried out after isolation is over:

  • The person who will do the cleaning can consider using a face mask until the room has been cleaned.
  • Open windows in the room and ventilate well while cleaning.
  • Roll up bedding carefully and put it in the washing machine immediately. Wash at the highest possible temperature, minimum 60 ºC.
  • Wipe surfaces with a damp cloth and cleaning product.
  • Disposable items that the patient has used during the isolation (magazines, newspapers, etc.) can be thrown away with residual waste.
  • After cleaning, leave the windows open in the room.

It is not necessary to clean the entire home after the isolation is ended.

Cleaning during and after quarantine

Regular cleaning is sufficient

Textiles

Cleaning of textiles must follow ordinary routines.

There is no basis for using chemical disinfectants on textiles.

Textiles must be washed at the highest possible temperature, minimum 60 ºC.

Table: overview of recommended measures

The table below gives some suggestions on how often different items should be cleaned. Cleaning requirements must be made based on type of premises, number of people who use or stay in the premises at any one time, user groups and situation, contact frequency to surfaces and fixtures.

The advice must be seen in the context of the general recommendations for cleaning described above and current recommendations for hand hygiene.

Element

Use

Cleaning suggestion

Alternative

Floor

Premises frequently used by many different people

Daily cleaning and as needed

 

Few people, limited use

Clean if required

 

Fixtures and fittings

Short-term use with moderate touching, e.g. meeting room tables.

Daily cleaning

Leave unused for 24 hours after use

Long term use with prolonged contact (e.g. desk).

Clean after each user

Leave unused for 24 hours after use

Common showers

Common showers used by many people

As a minimum, daily cleaning. Regular supervision to assess the need for extra cleaning.

 

Common showers that are rarely used (a few people per day).

 

Normal procedure

 

Equipment used by several people

Equipment used in group sessions and touched by hands over time (e.g. weights).

Hand hygiene before and after the session. Clean equipment after session.

 

Equipment used by hands over time (e.g. weights, gym equipment at fitness centres)

Hand hygiene before and after the session. Equipment touched by hands over time should be cleaned according to normal routines after each user.

 

Equipment frequently touched by the hands of several people during the activity (e.g. basketball).

Hand hygiene before and after the session. 

 

Equipment used by several people, but less frequently touched with the hands (e.g. footballs, cones).

Normal procedure

 

Outdoor play equipment

Outdoor play equipment

Normal procedure

 

Textiles

Textiles that are used close to the patient's body (e.g. towels, cloths, bed linen).

Clean after each user.

 

Equipment used close to the face (e.g. hairdressers’ cloaks, dry suits, survival suits).

Clean after each user.

Equipment left unused for 24 hours after use.

Textiles that are normally used for several people and that are not close to the face (e.g. life jackets).

Normal procedure

 

Disinfection

There is no basis for using chemical disinfectants to reduce the risk of infection with SARS-CoV-2 to sectors that do not normally use this type of method. This applies regardless of the method of using chemical disinfectants, such as fogging, spraying etc.

The health service has its own routines for the use of chemical disinfectants.

The use of chemical disinfectants can be harmful to humans and the environment and should be targetted and only used when necessary. The use of chemical disinfectants does not replace cleaning, but is used as a supplement.

All chemical disinfectants must be approved in accordance with the biocidal regulations, regardless of the sector in which the disinfectant is to be used.

In connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, the NIPH has received many enquiries regarding "fogging" with chemical disinfectants.

There are various technical solutions used for this process.

"Fogging" with disinfectants is not recommended due to uncertain effect in relation to concentration and duration of action. When using "fogging", there will be no control over where aerosols with disinfectants land. It becomes difficult to limit the scope of cleaning afterwards. If exposed surfaces are not cleaned, the disinfectant may damage surfaces. The risk of touch and inhalation is great with consequent damage to health.

In some cases, alcohol can be used for spot disinfection. When using household bleach follow the user instructions for dilution and time from the manufacturer.

Read more about the use of disinfection here;

 

History

22.03.2021: New paragraph about disinfection and other small adjustments.

08.12.2020: Article is revised. New sections: Cleaning if an employee has developed symptoms consistent with COVID-19, Cleaning during and after home isolation, Cleaning during and after quarantine, Textile handling. The section on disinfection has been removed. 

25.05.2020: Changed article according to Norwegian version. Added table with overview of suggestions for cleaning.

22.05.2020: Added  this information:  "People who develop symptoms of COVID-19 should go home as soon as possible. The area where they have been (e.g. a desk) should be cleaned before being used by others. This should be done normally with the usual cleaning products. Hotel rooms, treatment rooms and similar places should also be cleaned as normal prior to use by other guests/clients."

11.05.2020
Removed 2 metres from sentence about droplet transmission.

30.04.2020
Updated as per Norwegian text

17.04.2020
Updated as per Norwegian text