Green Cleaning for COVID-19

A roadmap to eliminating the coronavirus from your facility

Green Cleaning

You don’t need to stop using green cleaning products to eliminate the coronavirus from your facility. This condensed green cleaning roadmap developed for the U.S. Green Building Council will help you meet the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC’s) guidelines on COVID-19. It addresses green cleaning products and procedures as well as protection and training for cleaning personnel. 

Select green cleaning products

  • Use disinfectants on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s  (EPA’s) List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 and formulated with the active ingredients recommended by EPA’s Design for the Environment Logo for Antimicrobial Pesticide Products.
  • Use cleaning chemical products that meet EPA Safer Choice, Green Seal, or UL Ecologo standards; or cleaning devices that use only water, ionized water, electrolyzed water, or aqueous ozone and have third-party-verified performance data equivalent to the other standards mentioned above.
  • Choose hand soaps that meet EPA Safer Choice, Green Seal, or UL Ecologo; or soaps with no antimicrobial agents (other than as a preservative) except where required by health codes and other regulations (e.g., food service and health care requirements).
  • Where soap and water are not available, use hand sanitizers that contain at least 60% ethyl alcohol or are certified by UL Ecologo.
  • Use paper towels, plastic liners, mops, and other tools that meet one or more of the following standards: EPA comprehensive procurement guidelines for janitor paper and plastic trash can liners; Green Seal or UL Ecologo standards for tissue paper, paper towels, and napkins; or Forest Stewardship Council certification for fiber procurement. You may also choose janitorial paper products derived from rapidly renewable resources or made from tree-free fibers.

Set cleaning and disinfection procedures

  • Use procedures that meet joint requirements of the CDC and EPA on Reopening Guidance for Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces, Workplaces, Businesses, Schools, and Homes.
  • Implement procedures that optimize cleaning personnel resources and minimize unnecessary use of valuable cleaning products and equipment.
  • Identify “high-touch points” along with frequencies for cleaning and disinfecting the different objects so designated.
  • Adapt strategies for promoting and improving hand hygiene—prioritize handwashing with plain soap and water over hand sanitizers when possible.

Protect cleaning personnel

  • Provide cleaning personnel with the proper personnel protective equipment (PPE) including eye protection, masks, gloves, and gowns.
  • Use tools, equipment, and procedures that reduce ergonomic injuries.

Train cleaning personnel

  • Train on the proper use of disinfectants, other cleaning products, and equipment.
  • Teach workers how to properly put on, take off, and dispose of PPE.
  • Review the hazards of cleaning chemicals in accordance with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA’s) Hazard Communication and Bloodborne Pathogens standards.
  • Train on the basics of infection control and the science of cleaning, ergonomics protection for workers, disposal of cleaning chemicals, and the proper use and maintenance of chemical dispensing equipment.
  • Train workers how to answer occupant’s questions about cleaning procedures.
Posted On September 17, 2020

Stephen P. Ashkin

President, The Ashkin Group

Stephen P. Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, a consulting firm specializing in green cleaning and sustainability. He can be reached at [email protected].

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