COVID-19: Cleaning and disinfecting

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COVID-19 on surfaces and objects

High-touch surfaces and objects are those that people touch often, and are more likely to be contaminated by the COVID-19 virus. COVID-19 can be spread by touching contaminated surfaces or objects, and then your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands.

It's not certain to what extent contaminated surfaces or objects contribute to the spread of COVID-19. Studies show that the virus can stay active on surfaces and objects from a few hours to days, depending on the type of surface and environment. The virus can remain active for longer:

Cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces and objects can remove and deactivate the virus. This helps to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.


Cleaning surfaces and objects with soap (or detergent) and water doesn't necessarily kill germs. However, it reduces the amount of germs by physically removing them.

Put used disposable cleaning items, such as mop heads and cloths, in a lined waste container before throwing them out. Wash reusable cleaning items with soap or detergent and hot water (60° C to 90° C).

If using gloves, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after you remove them. If soap and water aren't available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

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You can deactivate the COVID-19 virus by using appropriate disinfectants according to their product label directions. Ideally, you should always clean surfaces first with soap or detergent, and then disinfect them.

Check the label for a drug identification number (DIN) confirming that Health Canada has approved the product for sale in Canada. If an approved disinfectant isn't available, use a diluted bleach solution.

Read and follow manufacturer's instructions for safe use of cleaning and disinfecting products. Depending on the product, you may need to:

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Cleaning and disinfecting in different settings

In your home

High-touch surfaces and objects

Regularly clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces and objects in your home. This is especially important when they're visibly dirty or when someone's sick.

High-touch surfaces and objects in your home may include:

  • toys
  • toilets
  • light switches
  • laundry hampers
  • tables and countertops
  • phones, television remotes and electronics
  • door handles, doorknobs, refrigerators, dishwashers, cabinets and faucets


Follow the manufacturer's instructions for disinfecting regularly used electronics like keyboards, tablets and smartboards. If your electronics can withstand the use of liquids, disinfect them with products containing 70% alcohol, like alcohol prep wipes.

Home deliveries

Paper mail or cardboard packages delivered to your home may be contaminated, but the risk is low. You don't need to clean and disinfect mail or packages. However, you should wash your hands with soap and water or use hand sanitizer after handling mail or packages.

In your workplace

Follow the cleaning and disinfecting procedures, policies and protocols put in place by your employer.

Focus on high-touch surfaces and objects, such as:

Clean and disinfect shared spaces such as kitchens and bathrooms more often.

Owners and operators

If you're a business owner or operator of a community setting, you should:

  • develop or review protocols and procedures for cleaning and disinfecting the site
    • this includes precautions for if an employee or visitor develops COVID-19 symptoms
  • be aware of occupational health and safety requirements
  • know and meet the requirements concerning hazardous products in the workplace under the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System (WHMIS)

This will help determine where you may need improvements or more cleaning and disinfecting.

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When someone has or may have COVID-19

In your home

Clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces and objects more frequently to reduce the risk of transmission. This is especially important if someone in the home is at risk of more severe disease or outcomes from COVID-19.

Regularly clean and disinfect spaces the person who has or may have COVID-19 has used, like sleeping areas and washrooms. While cleaning and disinfecting, wear the best quality and best fitting respirator or mask that's available to you.

You can wash contaminated and soiled laundry, including reusable masks, with other laundry. When washing, you should:

  • put laundry directly into the washing machine, or into a lined container if it's not being washed right away
  • wash laundry using a hot cycle (60ºC to 90ºC) with laundry soap or detergent
    • if a washing machine is unavailable, wash thoroughly by hand using soap or detergent and hot water
  • dry laundry well

Wash your hands as soon as you finish handling contaminated laundry.

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At your workplace

Follow established processes for cleaning and disinfecting the site after an employee or visitor develops COVID-19 symptoms.

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