How to prevent coronavirus (COVID-19) from spreading

As an employer, you must protect people from harm. This includes taking reasonable steps to protect your workers and others from coronavirus.

Coronavirus can transfer from people to surfaces. It can be passed on to others who touch the same surfaces. Keeping your workplace clean reduces the potential for coronavirus to spread and is a critical part of making and keeping your business ‘COVID-secure’.

This guidance will help you to clean your workplace to reduce risk. You may need to increase how often and how thoroughly you normally clean, as well as cleaning surfaces that you do not normally clean.

If you are cleaning because of a known or suspected case of COVID-19 in your workplace you should follow our COVID-19 page.

Clean to reduce risk from coronavirus

Your risk assessment will help you to identify what your cleaning regime will look like, but there are some general things that you should consider.

Identify frequently touched surfaces

Doors, bannisters, buttons and anything that is frequently touched, especially if it’s touched by lots of people, will need more regular cleaning than normal. Examples of frequently touched objects include:

  • work surfaces like desks, platforms and workstations
  • handles on doors, windows, rails, dispensers and water coolers
  • common areas like toilets, reception, changing rooms, corridors and lifts
  • vehicle handles, steering wheel, seat belts and internal surfaces
  • control panels for machinery, control pads and switches
  • computer keyboards, printers, touch screens, monitors and phones
  • taps, kettles, water heaters, fridges, microwaves and cupboards
  • shared equipment like tools, machines, vehicles, pallet trucks and delivery boxes
  • post and goods coming in or being shopped out

Put in place measures to clean surfaces and objects after each use where possible, for example phones and conferencing facilities in a meeting room. If it’s not practical to clean after each use, for example lift buttons that are used continuously throughout the day, make sure they are cleaned often.
There are 2 components in adequate cleaning regimes.

Deep cleaning

Deep cleaning is a thorough clean of all frequently touched surfaces at least once per day.

Periodic cleaning

Periodic cleaning is cleaning at different times throughout the day. Periodic cleaning can include cleaning items immediately after use as well as cleaning surfaces on a regular basis throughout a single day.

Cloths and sponges

  • use disposable cloths or paper towels when possible
  • reusable cloths should be disinfected or washed at 60C (140F) after each use

Washing-up brushes

  • wash brushes in a dishwasher regularly or clean with detergent and warm water after each use

Mops and buckets

  • use two buckets for mopping – one for detergent and the other for rinsing
  • mops and buckets should be cleaned and dried after each use

Toilets

  • keep the U-bend and toilet bowl clean by flushing after each use
  • use a toilet cleaner and brush every few days
  • limescale should be regularly removed using a descaling product
  • keep the toilet seat, handle and rim clean by using a disinfectant

Baths and sinks

  • clean baths and sinks frequently, if they’re used regularly
  • use disinfectant if they’ve been used by someone who’s ill

Showers

  • clean shower trays frequently, if used regularly
  • if a shower hasn’t been used for a while, let it run with hot water before using it

Tiles and shower curtains

  • keep tiles and grout in good condition
  • clean shower curtains frequently

Kitchen

  • ensure food-preparation surfaces are clean before use
  • use separate chopping boards for uncooked food – such as raw meat – and food that doesn’t need cooking, like salad leaves
  • wash and dry your hands after handling foods such as raw meat
  • clean surfaces immediately after use

Floors

  • clean floors regularly with warm water and detergent to remove visible dirt
  • if soiled with vomit, urine or poo, the floor should be cleaned using a disposable cloth and warm water, then disinfected – make sure the floor is dry before allowing children on it

Carpet and soft furnishings

  • steam cleaning is effective against germs on carpets and furnishings
  • curtains can be cleaned by laundering or disinfected by steam cleaning

Pets and other animals

  • keep pet food separate from human food
  • always wash your hands after touching animals and their food, toys, cages and litter trays
  • dishes, utensils and tin openers used for pet food should be stored separately

Toys

  • clean hard or plastic toys by washing them and putting them away once they’re clean and dry
  • some soft toys can be cleaned in the washing machine

Laundry

  • wash your hands after handling dirty laundry
  • all underwear, towels and household linen should be washed at 60C (140F) or at 40C (104F) with a bleach-based laundry product to prevent germs from spreading
  • don’t leave laundry in the washing machine – any remaining germs can multiply rapidly

Waste disposal

  • foot-operated bins are more hygienic because they reduce the risk of getting germs onto your hands from touching the bin lid
  • always wash your hands after handling waste material
  • throw rubbish away carefully to avoid attracting vermin and insects