How to Safely Clean and Disinfect Your Educational Facility for COVID-19

Schools across the United States are open for in-person learning, and students and staff are returning to indoor environments that have been transformed by COVID-19. We’ve heard from facility managers at these institutions, and many are wondering how they can disinfect their buildings for coronavirus while also limiting exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. Students, staff and community members want to see proof of cleaning and disinfection, and schools want to protect the health of everybody who enters their buildings. How can we safely prevent the spread of COVID-19 through proper disinfection, while also limiting exposure to hazardous chemicals?

Our new Guidelines for COVID-19 Cleaning and Disinfection are designed to help you navigate those concerns, and create a safe and healthy environment at your educational facility. This guide provides K-12, college and university facility, custodial and housekeeping managers actionable best practices to protect students, staff and custodial personnel amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The guide includes the following five effective cleaning and disinfecting practices for occupant health and safety during the pandemic:

  • Create a cleaning and disinfecting plan
  • Ensure that cleaning personnel are properly trained
  • Maintain sustainability and healthy indoor air
  • Communicate the cleaning and disinfecting plan
  • Provide safer working conditions

Improper cleaning and disinfection practices inside and outside the classroom can expose building occupants to unsafe levels of hazardous chemicals while failing to protect them from COVID-19. In addition to the cleaning and disinfecting practices, we have curated EPA List N: Disinfectants for Use Against SARS-CoV-2 to help you identify those with safer active ingredients. When considering EPA’s list N, our guidelines recommend choosing products with the following active ingredients:

  • hydrogen peroxide**
  • citric acid
  • lactic acid
  • ethyl alcohol (also called ethanol or just alcohol)
  • isopropyl alcohol
  • peroxyacetic acid** 
  • sodium bisulfate
  • hypochlorous acid

The guidelines were developed in partnership with recognized leaders in green cleaning and facilities management at schools and universities, and are based on the latest scientific understanding of the particular characteristics of the COVID-19 virus. The guidelines also expand upon information provided in the CDC Guidance on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), EPA Guidance on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). The recommendations reflect Green Seal’s expertise in setting science-based standards for high-performance cleaning products and practices that reduce unnecessary use of hazardous chemicals and promote safer and healthier indoor air. They also reflect Healthy Schools Campaign’s experience working directly with facility cleaning directors and custodial leaders at schools and colleges across the country for more than a decade.