How to Safely Disinfect for Coronavirus


This blog was originally published on the Green Seal website.

Here at Green Seal, we understand that there is a lot of concern about the novel coronavirus, COVID-19. This is an emerging and rapidly changing situation, and Green Seal relies on the CDC for updated information as it becomes available.


According to the CDC, one critical step for preventing illness includes both cleaning and disinfecting the spaces where you spend your time.

Green Seal recommends the following procedure to effectively clean and disinfect surfaces:

  • Clean the surface with a detergent or general-purpose cleaner. Cleaning is an important first step to the process because it physically removes soil, organic matter, and many germs from the surface.
  • Rinse the surface with clean water.
  • 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. 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.

US EPA just released a list of recommended disinfectants for use against COVID-19. When considering EPA’s list of products to use to clean your home or office, Green Seal recommends choosing products with the following active ingredients. These chemicals are known to be less hazardous to human health and do not cause allergic reactions, asthma, or exacerbate asthma:

  • hydrogen peroxide
  • citric acid
  • lactic acid
  • ethyl alcohol (also called ethanol or just alcohol), or
  • isopropyl alcohol

On EPA’s list of recommended disinfectants, the agency includes several products with these active ingredients, including:

  • Clorox Commercial Solutions® Hydrogen Peroxide Cleaner Disinfectant (Clorox)
  • OXIVIR™ WIPES (Diversey, Inc)
  • URTHPRO Peroxide Multi Surface Cleaner and Disinfectant (URTHTECH, LLC)
  • Peroxide Multi Surface Cleaner and Disinfectant (Ecolab)
  • Peroxide Disinfectant and Glass Cleaner RTU (Ecolab)
  • Clorox Pet Solutions Advanced Formula Disinfecting Stain & Odor Remover

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 our Healthy Green Schools & Colleges program is an additional resource to help you plan for infection outbreaks in general.


Last but not least, cleaning and disinfecting is only one aspect of avoiding the spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses. The CDC also recommends the following actions on their website:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

*Some products are a combination of a cleaner and a disinfectant. As always, read the label carefully and follow directions.

by Nina Hwang, MPH