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How to clean and disinfect schools to help slow the spread of influenza

Cleaning and disinfection are part of a comprehensive approach to prevent infectious diseases in school. To help reduce the spread of influenza (flu), the first line of defense is getting vaccinated. Measures include staying in the home when you are sick, covering your mouth when you cough and sneezing and washing your hands often. Below you will find tips on how to decrease the spread of influenza especially through cleaning and disinfection.

1. Know the difference between cleaning, disinfection and sanitization

Cleaning removes germs , dirt and impurities from surfaces or objects. Cleaning works by using soap (or detergent) and water to physically remove germs from surfaces. This process does not necessarily kill germs, but by removing them, the amount and risk of spreading the disease decreases.

Disinfection kills germs on surfaces or objects. Disinfection works by using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces or objects. This process does not necessarily cleanse dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing the germs on the surface after cleaning, you can further reduce the risk of spreading the disease.

Sanitization decreases the number of germs on surfaces or objects to a safe level, as assessed by public health standards and requirements. This process works by cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects to reduce the risk of spreading disease.

2. Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that are frequently touched

Follow your school’s standard procedures for routine cleaning and disinfection. Commonly, this means daily sanitizing surfaces and objects that are touched frequently, such as desks, countertops, doorknobs, computer keyboards, handy learning items, faucet handles, telephones, and toys. Some schools may also require disinfecting these items daily. Standard procedures often require disinfecting specific areas of the school, such as restrooms.

Immediately clean surfaces and objects that are visibly dirty. If surfaces or objects are dirty with body fluids or blood, wear gloves and other standard precautions to avoid contact with liquid. Remove the liquid, and then clean and sanitize the surface.


3. Simply perform routine cleaning and disinfection

It is important that your cleaning and disinfecting activities suit the types of germs you want to fight or kill. Most studies have shown that influenza viruses can live up to 48 hours after they have been deposited on a surface and possibly causing infections to people for the same period of time. However, it is not necessary to close schools to clean or disinfect all surfaces of the building to reduce the spread of influenza. In addition, if students and staff are suspended because the school can not function normally (eg, high absenteeism during an outbreak of influenza), further cleaning and disinfection is not necessary.

Influenza viruses are relatively fragile, so standard cleaning and disinfection practices are sufficient to remove or kill them. Special cleaning and disinfection processes, such as cleaning walls and ceilings, frequently using room deodorants and fumigating, are not Necessary or recommended. These processes can irritate the eyes, nose, throat and skin, aggravate asthma, and cause other serious side effects.

4. Clean and disinfect correctly

Always follow the label instructions for cleaning products and disinfectants. Wash surfaces with a general household cleaner to remove germs. Rinse with water, then apply a registered EPA disinfectant to eliminate germs. Read the label to make sure EPA has approved the product as effective against type A influenza virus.

If the surface is not visibly dirty, you can clean it with an EPA registered product that cleans (germs) and disinfects (kills germs) at the same time. Be sure to read the label instructions carefully as there may be a different procedure for using the product as a cleaner or as a disinfectant. In general, disinfection requires that the product is applied to the surface and allowed to act for a certain period of time (eg, allowing it to act for 3 to 5 minutes).

Use disinfectant wipes on frequently touched electronic items such as telephones and computers. Pay close attention to the instructions when using disinfectant wipes. It may be necessary to use more than one wipe to keep the surface moist for the indicated amount of contact time. Ensure that electronic items can withstand the use of fluids for cleaning and disinfection.


5. Use the products safely

Pay close attention to hazard warnings and instructions on product labels. Cleaning products and disinfectants often require the use of gloves and eye protection. For example, you should always use gloves to protect your hands when working with bleach solutions.

Do not mix cleaners and disinfectants unless labels indicate that it is safe to do so. Combining certain products (such as cleaners with bleach and ammonia) can be harmful, and can lead to serious injury or death.

Ensure that cleaning staff, teachers and others using the cleaning and disinfection products read and understand all instructional labels and understand proper and safe use. This may require instructional materials and training to be provided in other languages.

6. Handle waste properly

Follow your school’s standard procedures for handling waste, which may include the use of gloves. Locate rubbish bins, which do not require hand contact, within reach. Dispose of disposable items used to clean surfaces and empty trash cans immediately after use. Avoid touching used tissues and other debris when emptying trash bins. Wash your hands with soap and water after you have emptied trash bins and have touched used tissues and similar debris. For more informations visit:

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