Division Title

​Return to Physical Workspace

Cleaning and Disinfection

Cleaning and disinfection recommendations are the same for all workplace community levels. Healthcare and healthcare support settings should refer to their infection control personnel for specific location requirements.
Although recent research has indicated that surface transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is less likely than initially believed, there is still some potential for infection from contact with contaminated surfaces. As such, high-contact surfaces should be cleaned regularly. The current CDC recommendation is that high-touch surfaces be cleaned at least daily. This includes door handles, shared office and laboratory equipment, and light switches. These surfaces should be cleaned using a proper disinfectant. Information on approved disinfectants can be found at https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2.

Housekeeping will clean common areas (e.g., bathrooms) daily. Offices, labs, and other non-common areas should establish a cleaning schedule for high contact surfaces. Breakrooms and meeting rooms should have an adequate supply of cleaning supplies so that staff can clean or disinfect their space before and after use. Locations where there is contact with the NIH community (i.e. reception areas, kiosks, customer service locations, etc.) should regularly (e.g. twice daily) clean and disinfect those surfaces.
The NIH follows CDC guidance regarding space cleaning and disinfection after a COVID-19 case has been present in a building. The CDC guidance currently recommends that the space be vacated for several hours to allow ventilation of the space. Disinfection is required if the space has had a positive COVID-19 case within the past 24 hours. The turn-around time between the testing of a staff member and the notification of that staff member and their supervisor is usually greater than 24 hours. This means that if the staff member is symptomatic, they will have already been quarantined away from work. In these scenarios, this means that only routine cleaning (not disinfection) will be required in the space.

In the rare instances where a positive case presence does impact a facility, the ORF has developed a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) which outlines procedures for communication and steps to be taken concerning the closure, ventilation, disinfection and reopening of these NIH workspaces.. This SOP was developed for a scenario in which a staff member has been diagnosed with COVID-19 and has been in NIH workspaces (owned or leased) within 2 days prior to showing symptoms. This SOP describes the risk management decisions and actions needed after a positive case is identified. This document  is shared with the ICO whenever contact tracing indicates that a space may need to be isolated or disinfected. 
The supply store carries a variety of approved disinfectants. Read the label prior to use to ensure efficacy of the product, as well as appropriate contact time and proper use of the material is followed. Be certain that disinfectants used are appropriate for coronavirus. Common laboratory disinfectants that are used at the NIH and are effective against coronavirus include: 10% bleach solutions (made fresh daily); 70% ethanol; Dispatch; Clorox hydrogen peroxide spray; Lysol wipes; Opticide; Peroxiguard; Vesphene III; Micro-Chem Plus; and Cavicide. Please be advised that the active ingredients and instructions for use may differ between, and within, brands (e.g., different Clorox products have differing ingredients and contact times). Active ingredients, contact time and efficacy information are listed on the label. (Appendix III – Disinfectant Labels). 
 Some disinfectants will require dilution prior to use (i.e., alcohols). Some of these products  will be stronger and may be hazardous to humans and require gloves or other Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for use. DOHS advises the non-laboratory areas to purchase materials that are ready to use, such as wipes. Alternatively, laboratory areas will have protective equipment (e.g., chemical fume hoods and gloves) that can be used for dilution and cleaning with more concentrated chemicals. 
 If the disinfectant is not in wipe form, spray it onto a paper towel and then wipe the surface. It is not advised to directly spray a surface, as that can create chemical and viral aerosols. 

For any questions on disinfectants, please contact DOHS at 301-496-2960.