Safely Clean Schools

New York State requires that all public and private facilities have procedures and supplies for routine cleaning, disinfection, and proper hand hygiene. Routine cleaning helps stop the spread of germs, viruses, and bacteria that can cause illness. Cleaning removes dirt, impurities, and germs from surfaces and objects. Disinfecting kills harmful germs that may remain on surfaces after cleaning.

Products used to clean or disinfect may contain chemicals that are harmful if they are inhaled, touched, or swallowed. Carefully read and follow product label instructions for safe and effective use. Wearing gloves and using products in well-ventilated areas reduce risks of health effects such as nose irritation, nausea, dizziness, and headache.

  • In addition to this guidance, public and private facilities, such as food service establishments, must follow all applicable New York State regulations for cleaning, disinfection, and sanitation.
  • All New York State agencies and authorities, including schools, must use green cleaning products. For additional information on the use of green cleaning products, see the Policies, Guidelines, and Report section of the Green Cleaning Program website.

When to Clean and Disinfect

Schools should identify all frequently touched surfaces, shared equipment, and workstations that can transmit germs to people through contact with these surfaces. Schools may choose to clean high traffic areas more frequently or disinfect in addition to cleaning. Schools should establish procedures for surfaces that must be disinfected after use.

How to Clean and Disinfect

  • Cleaning: Clean surfaces thoroughly using soap or detergent and water before using disinfectants. Disinfectants don't work on dirty surfaces.
  • Disinfecting: Apply disinfectants to kill germs, bacteria, and viruses after surfaces are cleaned. Look for the product label registration number to make sure this product is approved for use by the EPA. Disinfectants used in New York State must be registered with the Department of Environmental Conservation.
    • Pay attention to the contact time: the amount of time the disinfectant must remain on the surface to be effective. This can vary based on the product and applies to disinfecting wipes, too.
    • Schools using additional surface disinfection technologies must use the equipment in a way that does not cause a public health or safety hazard and must follow all health and safety requirements and procedures identified by the manufacturer and federal authorities. These must not be a substitute for standard cleaning and disinfection practices.

High Traffic Areas:

  • Health offices
  • Classrooms
  • Lunchrooms
  • Athletic rooms
  • Bathrooms

High Touch Surfaces:

  • Lunch tables
  • Desks and chairs
  • Light switches
  • Handrails
  • Door handles/push plates
  • Faucets
  • Equipment handles and buttons
  • Shared equipment and electronics
  • Bus seats

Maintain Routine Cleaning

All schools must maintain routine cleaning and disinfection schedules and procedures. Time should be allocated for individuals to routinely clean and disinfect.

  • Dust/wet-mop or auto-scrub floors
  • Vacuum high traffic areas
  • Remove trash
  • Wipe HVAC vents
  • Spot clean walls and carpets
  • Dust horizontal surfaces and light fixtures
  • Clean spills

Use and Store Products Safely

  • Use only cleaning products approved and provided by the school.
  • Use products in well-ventilated areas.
  • Do not mix products. Mixing these can produce toxic fumes that are harmful to health.
  • Carefully follow all label instructions to ensure effective use, including using the right amount of water with concentrated products. Applying more product than recommended does not yield better results and can be harmful.
  • Wear gloves and any protection identified on the product label.
  • Keep products in their original containers and close securely after use.
  • Store and use products out of reach of children.
  • Never allow students to use wipes or other cleaners themselves.
  • Never ingest products.

Product Disposal and Hand Hygiene

  • Clean, replace and disinfect cleaning tools and supplies after use.
  • Dispose of unused and unwanted products properly.
  • Place any used gloves and other disposable items in a bag that can be tied closed before disposing of them with other waste.
  • Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds immediately after cleaning or removing gloves or other personal protective equipment. Use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available. However, soap and water should always be used when hands are visibly soiled.

In Case of Poisoning

  • Call the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222 immediately. Keep this number clearly posted in your facility.
  • Call 911 for emergency medical help immediately if someone stops breathing, collapses, or has a seizure.

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