“According to the CDC, one critical step for preventing illness includes both cleaning and disinfecting the spaces where you spend your time,” she said.
Green Seal recommends the following three-step procedure to effectively clean and disinfect surfaces:
1. Clean the surface with a detergent or general-purpose cleaner. Cleaning is an important first step in the process because it physically removes soil, organic matter and many germs from the surface.
2. Rinse the surface with clean water.
3. Disinfection should always take place last, to ensure that any germs leftover after cleaning are destroyed. Disinfectants are not as effective when applied directly to dirty surfaces, because germs and viruses can hide under soils.
“It is important to follow the label use directions for enveloped viruses, which is the category that COVID-19 falls under,”said Hwang. “Disinfectants can have up to a 10-minute contact time, which means that the disinfectant needs to be left wet on the surface for 10 minutes in order to kill the targeted types of germs. If the directions for use for viruses/virucidal activity list different contact times or dilutions, use the longest contact time or most concentrated solution.”
Green Seal has many certified general-purpose cleaners to choose from and the full list of products can be found here.
“Disinfectants are designed to kill germs, and therefore none can be completely harmless. Because of this, the US EPA does not allow manufacturers to label disinfectants with third-party certifications, such as Green Seal. However, there are safer options out there,” Hwang said.
US EPA has released a list of recommended disinfectants for use against COVID-19. When considering EPA’s list, Green Seal recommends choosing products with the following active ingredients, as these chemicals are known to be less hazardous to human health and do not trigger allergic reactions, or asthma:
•ethyl alcohol (also called ethanol or just alcohol), or
Consumers that already have a product in their cabinet can refer to EPA’s website to confirm whether it is approved for use against COVID-19 and to find the product’s specific use instructions. They can search by the EPA registration number by entering the first two sections of the Registration Number (for example, 12345-12 for EPA Reg. No. 12345-12-2567. The third section is only used to distinguish between different product distributors, who sell the products under different names and brands but don’t change the formula at all.
“Last but not least, cleaning and disinfecting is only one aspect of avoiding the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses,” noted Hwang.
The CDC also recommends the following actions on its website.
Hwang observed that the CDC and the EPA remain the best source of information for preventing coronavirus. Once the coronavirus threat has passed, this Infection Control Guide from Green Seal’s Healthy Green Schools & Colleges program is an additional resource to help users plan for infection outbreaks in general.
Here’s to hoping for a healthy Spring 2020!