Cleaning for Infection Prevention: Cold and Flu

01/04/17 By Dana Szymkowiak

11 Recommended Cleaning & Disinfection Practices to Prevent the Spread of Colds and the Flu

In 2014 ISSA put together an amazing guide titled Cleaning for Infection Prevention: Cold and Flu that is still incredibly relevant today. In this guide there is a particular section that covers recommended cleaning and disinfection practices that we will share with you below. 

Why is this section so relevant? It is because you can see beyond the borders to nearly any facility and apply these practices to yours. Whether you are in an school, or institutional setting these 11 recommendations can apply.

  1. Just Clean: Do not underestimate the power of simply cleaning to reduce the risk of transmitting the influenza and cold viruses as well as other pathogens. Cleaning removes dirt, soil, and impurities that harbor germs and viruses like influenza and those that cause the common cold. Routine cleaning therefore plays a critical role in reducing the spread of flu and colds. Just as important, remember cleaning is often a necessary first step in disinfecting a surface, which actually kills the remaining germs.
  2. Clean and Disinfect Frequently Touched Surfaces: Daily clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched such as desks, counter tops, doorknobs, and faucet handles. Frequency may be increased when there is a known outbreak. Immediately clean and disinfect surfaces that are visibly soiled with body fluids (vomit, urine, etc.) or blood. Follow precautions set forth in the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard to avoid contact with the fluid.
  3. Simply Do Routine Cleaning and Disinfecting: It’s important to match your cleaning and disinfecting activities to the types of germs you want to remove or kill. For example, most studies have shown that the flu virus can live and potentially infect a person for only 2 to 8 hours after being deposited on a surface. Therefore, it is not necessary to close facilities to clean or disinfect every surface in the building to slow the spread of flu.
  4. Flu and cold viruses are relatively fragile, so standard or routine cleaning and disinfecting practices are sufficient to remove or kill them: Special cleaning and disinfecting processes, including wiping down walls and ceilings, or fumigating, are not necessary or recommended. These processes can irritate eyes, noses, throats, and skin; aggravate asthma; and cause other adverse side effects.
  5. Clean and Disinfect Correctly: Always follow label directions on cleaning products and disinfectants. It is important to note that the directions on most disinfectant products require the surface to first be cleaned. First clean surfaces with a general purpose cleaner to remove germs, and follow with an EPA-registered disinfectant to kill germs. Be sure to follow the label directions on the disinfectant for dwell time—the amount of time necessary for the disinfectant to reside on the surface in order to effectively kill the germs. Please be sure to make sure the surface remains wet during the dwell time to properly disinfect and kill the germs. Therefore, you may wish to select disinfectants that have shorter dwell times compared to other competing products. Try a free sample of our SaniZide Pro or SaniZide Plus by clicking below.
  6. When disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, select EPA registered products with label claims indicating the product kills the cold and flu.
  7. If a surface is not visibly dirty, you can clean it with an EPA-registered product that both cleans (removes soil and germs) and disinfects (kills germs) instead. Be sure to read the label directions carefully, as there may be a separate procedure for using the product as a cleaner or as a disinfectant.
  8. Use disinfecting wipes on electronic items that are touched often, such as phones and computers. Pay close attention to the directions for using disinfecting wipes. It may be necessary to use more than one wipe to keep the surface wet for the stated length of contact time. Make sure that the electronics can withstand the use of liquids for cleaning and disinfecting.
  9. Use Products Safely: Pay close attention to hazard warnings and directions on product labels and SDSs. Cleaning products and disinfectants may call for the use of gloves or eye protection.
  10. 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.
  11. Ensure that custodial staff and others who use cleaners and disinfectants read and understand all instruction labels and understand safe and appropriate use. This might require that instructional materials and training be provided in other languages.