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Cleaning Guidelines for Laboratories and Resource Centers*

This guidance is provided to Laboratories and Resource Centers to outline steps for appropriate disinfection of high touch work areas and equipment to address potential presence of SARS-CoV-2 on laboratory surfaces or equipment.

NOTE that these guidelines are in addition to the biosafety work practices required for the research operations.

According to the CDC, SARS-CoV-2 is most frequently transmitted person-to-person through sustained, close contact (< 6 feet, > 15 minutes) via respiratory droplets. Current evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces, and while there are no documented cases of indirect transmission (touching a contaminated surface and then touching one’s eye, nose or mouth), there is strong evidence that infectious agents can be transmitted by indirect transmission. Because of this, regular and effective disinfection of these surfaces should be undertaken.

Custodial Services will continue to clean and disinfect public and common areas, e.g., hallways and restrooms, and commonly touched items in public areas, e.g., elevator buttons, door knobs, following their disinfection protocols, which includes use of products (e.g., Virex II 256) certified by the EPA to be effective against SAR-CoV-2.

HIGH-TOUCH LOCATIONS AND EQUIPMENT: The following are locations and equipment with high frequency of handling and contact. As such these represent a higher probability of viral loading in the work area and should be disinfected on a routine basis.

  • Benchtops
  • Equipment handles and latches
  • Equipment controls and touchpads
  • Drawer and cabinet handles
  • Bin and water incubator lids
  • Hand tools
  • Micropipettors and other shared tools
  • Faucet handles and sprayer grips
  • Baskets, bins, trays, etc.
  • Outsides of shared chemical bottles and caps
  • Chair backs and arm rests
  • Pens, whiteboard markers, etc.

USE EPA-APPROVED DISINFECTANTS: Use a disinfectant that is certified by the EPA to be effective against the COVID-19 coronavirus. There are two easy ways to tell this.

  • Verify the disinfectant is on the EPA’s List N registry of disinfectants. Disinfectants are listed by both name and by EPA ID number. Your product may not be listed by name, but if the EPA number matches what is on the list, then this is a good disinfectant to use.
  • The fine print of the label will list Coronavirus among the organisms for which it is approved.

cleaning guidelines

  • Hard or non-porous surfaces can be disinfected by wiping with an EPA-approved disinfectant. The following are some common chemicals used for disinfection (those in green font are stocked at the RU Stockroom; supplies are limited and subject to change):
    • 10% freshly prepared (within last 24 hours) bleach solution with 1 minute contact time
    • Clorox Germicidal Bleach Disinfecting Wipes
    • CloroxPro™
    • Clorox Total 360® Disinfecting Cleaner1
    • Mikro-Quat
    • Virex II 256
    • Lysol Disinfecting Wipes
    • Super Sani-Cloth Germicidal Disposable Wipe (w/ isopropyl alcohol)
    • Cavicide 1(w/ ethanol and isopropyl alcohol)
    • Cavicide (w/ isopropyl alcohol)
    • 30% H2O2 for dilution to 10%
    • 3% H2O2
    • 70% ethanol is not recommended for all surfaces, though it may be appropriate for electronics and other delicate surfaces. (95% and 100% EtOH for dilution to 70%)

NOTE that not all products with the name “Lysol” or “Clorox” are necessarily effective against coronavirus.

DO NOT MIX cleaning chemicals together, especially with bleach!

PAY ATTENTION TO DISINFECTANT CONTACT TIME: The overwhelming majority of disinfectants need time to work, so simply spraying and immediately wiping is insufficient. For most disinfectants, you need to spray until the surface is thoroughly wet, then wait 5-10 minutes before wiping. This is even true of bleach.

If your bottle does not have the instructions on the label, look them up online. DO NOT ASSUME that the disinfectant works on contact.

WEAR APPROPRIATE PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT: You may already be wearing appropriate PPE based on your laboratory work, but if not, this is the time to put on safety glasses, and chemical-compatible impervious gloves. A lab coat is a good idea also, especially if you are spraying bleach. Reference the Safety Data Sheet (SDS) for information on PPE, the hazards of the disinfectant, and any other information you might want to know about it.

USE CARE WITH DELICATE EQUIPMENT: Certain equipment may be damaged by spraying (computer keyboards and mice, key-style equipment touchpads, on/off switches, power tools, etc.) and by harsher disinfectants such as bleach. If you have approved quaternary-ammonium disinfectant or 70% ethanol wipes, use them for these more delicate tasks.

If you do not have disinfectant wipes, these items can be disinfected by soaking a dry wipe or clean soft cloth in the alcohol or disinfectant until it is soaked but not quite dripping, and then using it to wipe the keyboard/switch/etc., being careful to avoid getting liquid into any openings. The surface should be visibly wet after you wipe it, and the disinfectant should be left to evaporate from the surface. There is an additional guidance document available for disinfecting computer equipment.

Additional guidance for cleaning computers and sensitive electronics is available on the LS&EH website.

Additional resources:

*Adapted from PennState, with great gratitude to the PennState EHS team.