Clean and disinfect your workplace

You can protect yourself and your co-workers from coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by cleaning and disinfecting your workplace.

Thorough and proper cleaning and disinfection of surfaces in work places (for example, offices, stores, and publicly accessible areas) is important for preventing the spread of viruses. Below you will find a set of guidelines, which can be followed and adopted into existing cleaning practices.

Many work places have contracts that provide cleaning services after hours. It is important employers and employees understand the cleaning services that are provided.

Cleaning versus disinfection

The terms cleaning and disinfection are 2 terms that are often mixed up and interpreted to mean the same thing. However, they are actually separate and describe 2 important steps in sanitation.


Cleaning is the act of removing dirt, soil, and other impurities from all types of surfaces: For example, wiping spilled food off a counter with detergent (soap) and water.


Disinfection is the act of destroying harmful micro-organisms, such as bacteria and viruses. For example, wiping the counter with bleach. Cleaning alone will not be effective for the control of the virus that causes COVID-19.

Disinfection must also be done and, since dirt and soil interfere with disinfectants (for example, bleach), cleaning must be done before you disinfect.

However, if surfaces are not soiled, disinfection alone may be satisfactory. Use your good judgement as to when cleaning is and is not necessary.

In addition, many products available today combine a cleaner with a disinfectant. Read the label carefully to ensure it contains a recognized disinfectant in a sufficient quantity.

Be sure to take appropriate precautions when using chemicals for cleaning and disinfecting. Consult the product Safety Data Sheets.

Areas to focus on

Cleaning practices for the control of respiratory infections should include areas where people commonly gather, are publicly accessible, and where you meet with clients indoors. These would include:

  • reception areas;
  • meeting and conference rooms;
  • waiting rooms;
  • exam rooms;
  • lunch and staff rooms;
  • bathrooms;
  • doorways;
  • offices; and
  • hallways.

Surfaces and objects in these areas are commonly touched and should be identified, cleaned and disinfected on a scheduled basis. These would include:

  • hand rails;
  • door knobs;
  • phones;
  • light switches;
  • desk tops;
  • computer keyboards;
  • computer "mice";
  • table tops;
  • arm rests on chairs, top and bottom;
  • counter tops;
  • bathroom stall latches;
  • toilet paper dispensers;
  • toilet flush handles;
  • liquid soap dispensers;
  • hot air hand dryers; and
  • paper towel dispensers.

Other areas and surfaces

Other areas and surfaces which are not commonly used, accessible, or touched (for example, storage rooms, closets, floors, walls), should also be cleaned and disinfected, but less frequently.

Methods for cleaning and disinfecting

Common touch surfaces in public gathering and accessible areas require daily cleaning and/or disinfection.

Use a clean cloth, and a detergent and water solution to remove dirt and soil from surfaces and objects that are touched by lots of different people.

Following the instructions provided by the manufacturer or public health official, wipe common touch surfaces with a disinfectant solution ensuring disinfectant contact time, which is the time that a surface must remain wet for a disinfectant to be effective. For example, mix 100 millilitres of unscented household bleach into 900 millitres of water, wipe onto surface, and ensure contact for 1 minute.

Other surfaces in public gathering and accessible areas that are not commonly touched may need to be cleaned daily (for example, floors), but can be disinfected weekly:

  • Use damp cleaning methods such as damp clean cloths, and/or a wet mop. Do not dust or sweep which can distribute virus droplets into the air.
  • Wet mop floors and stairs, if not carpeted, using a detergent and water solution.
  • Use a clean cloth, and a detergent and water solution to remove dirt and soil from other surfaces (for example, walls).
  • Following the instructions provided by the manufacturer or public health official, wet mop or wipe surfaces with a disinfectant solution.

Surfaces in areas that are not commonly used or accessible should be cleaned on a routine basis, and can be disinfected at the same time.

As noted above, many products combine a cleaner (detergent) with a disinfectant. Therefore, instead of being a 2-step process, cleaning and disinfection can be accomplished in one.

Materials for cleaning and disinfecting

Selecting the right materials to meet your cleaning and disinfecting needs can be challenging with the number of products available.

In general, a supply of clean cloths and mop heads should always be available. Brooms and vacuums should be in good condition. When these supplies become visibly soiled or worn out, they should be replaced.

Detergents (soap) used for cleaning should be selected based on your specific needs. Unscented and biodegradable products are available. Detergents must be able to aid the removal of soil, dirt, oil, grease, and other impurities from surfaces. The most common cleaning products available are soaps and detergents.

Use a disinfectant product that has a Drug Identification Number (DIN) and a virucidal claim. Common active ingredients in disinfectant products include sodium hypochlorite, quaternary ammonium, and hydrogen peroxide. Be sure to follow instructions on the label to disinfect effectively. Alternatively, a bleach water solution consisting of 100 mL unscented household bleach per 900 mL water can be used to disinfect.

Products which combine a cleaner with a disinfectant are also available. When using 1 of these products, read the label carefully when the manufacturer is claiming that it is a disinfectant, as well as a cleaner. As stated above, the product used must have a DIN and a virucidal claim.

Another important point to consider when selecting a disinfectant is whether or not it will cause damage. Disinfectants, such as sodium hypochlorite found in bleach, are available is high enough concentrations that they can damage surfaces if they are not sufficiently diluted. However, even diluted, bleach can still damage surfaces, such as those coated with varnish. So, choose a disinfectant that will not cause damage.

When considering which cleaner and disinfectant will meet your needs, getting the right information about the product is important. Grocery stores may not be able to provide this, however, janitorial supply stores should.

Keep these guidelines

You can print these guidelines or save this webpage as a PDF. 


For additional information on cleaning and disinfecting, contact Environmental Health Services: email [email protected], phone 867-667-8391 or phone toll free 1-800-661-0408, extension 8391.