Cleaning Frequency and Standards

While the virus is not thought to transmit effectively by a person’s contact with surfaces, current evidence suggests that COVID-19 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Routine cleaning and disinfecting of frequently touched surfaces is a best practice measure for the removal of potential pathogens causing COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in our working and living spaces.

How is the University cleaning and disinfecting buildings across campus?

  • Occupied Buildings: In addition to routine custodial cleaning, the university has implemented an enhanced cleaning frequency to clean and disinfect common areas and commonly touched surfaces in occupied buildings. Touchpoints such as entrance handles, handrails, elevator buttons, tables, restroom stall handles/doors are being cleaned at least once daily, five days a week, using EPA-registered disinfectants. Some areas of the campus, specific to the operation, clean to the standard of their department or unit’s operational needs.

Unoccupied Buildings: All unoccupied buildings will receive a one-time, detailed deep cleaning and disinfection, using EPA-registered disinfectants. Routine custodial cleaning along with the enhanced cleaning frequency will resume once the buildings are occupied again.

Cleaning FAQ

What is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?
Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt, and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill or inactivate germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs. However, disinfecting a surface after cleaning can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

What is the recommended practice for disinfecting (not cleaning) surfaces?
Wear disposable gloves and eye protection when disinfecting surfaces, and ensure the area has good ventilation. If the area does not have good ventilation, disinfect and leave the area until the surfaces have dried. Discard gloves after each cleaning and clean hands immediately.

Using paper towels, first clean dirty surfaces with a detergent or soap and water, then carefully apply disinfectant and wipe to evenly distribute the disinfectant. Avoid spraying disinfectant on the surfaces to prevent the creation of aerosols. Allow surfaces to air dry. Discard paper towels and disinfecting wipes into the regular trash.

Which disinfectants kill the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)?
The virus is effectively killed by using 10% freshly prepared bleach, 70% ethanol, or disinfecting wipes. Virkon-S is a safe disinfectant for use around animal areas.  Do not mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners. The EPA has provided a helpful list of registered disinfectants effective against the novel coronavirus, including ready-to-use Clorox and Lysol products.

How long does it take for a disinfectant to kill the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)?
Consult the product label for the minimum contact time.  Cleaning wipes do not kill the virus, so be sure to use disinfecting wipes and follow the instructions carefully. Disinfecting wipes must remain wet to be effective.  Be sure to tightly close the lid when not in use.

Due to the novel nature of this virus, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus responsible for the disease, COVID-19) may not be listed on product labels at this time. The EPA has an accelerated process in place to allow for novel viruses to be added to product labels.  If SARS-CoV-2 is not specifically listed on your product label, you may consult with the Stanford EH&S office.

How frequently should disinfection occur?
Disinfection frequency depends on the amount of activity in the lab and shared office areas. At the very least, disinfection should occur daily. Janitorial services are providing stepped-up cleaning of cafeterias, breakrooms, bathrooms, and other common areas nightly. Contact your building manager or work services for details regarding janitorial services.

What surfaces need to be disinfected?
Highly touched surfaces include hard-backed chairs, desktops, computer keyboards, computer displays, remotes, light switches, elevator buttons, handrails, doorknobs, door push plates, card readers, refrigerator/freezer handles, equipment switches, benchtops, biosafety cabinet and fume hood sashes and their working surfaces, biowaste container lids, commonly used hand tools and small objects (pipettors), and shared PPE (laser goggles). Be careful when disinfecting sensitive equipment to prevent the disruption of the equipment.

Is the University planning to install dispenser stations containing hand sanitizer?
Dispenser stations containing alcohol-based hand sanitizer will be installed at building entrances, as supplies allow. Although hand sanitizer can help prevent the spread of the virus, practicing the CDC’s proper hand-washing technique is considered to be more effective.

How can I disinfect my workplace?
Clean commonly touched surfaces throughout the day including lab benches, lab equipment, desks, phones, remote controls, printers, fax machines, computer mouses and keyboards. The University recommends that departments or units purchase EPA-registered disinfectants such as single-use disinfectant wipes and multi-surface spray cleaners. Always use cleaning products as recommended on manufacturer labels, including wearing disposable gloves where directed.