The Difference Between Decontamination For Coronavirus and Routine Cleaning Disinfection

Here at Holchem we have been working with our customers throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to provide them the best advice and guidance available. 


One of the key questions we’ve been asked is “How is decontamination for known cases of COVID-19 different from routine cleaning and disinfection?”


John Holah, Holchem’s Technical Director comments:

"There may be occasions when you need to decontaminate food production or ancillary areas if operatives who go on sick leave are subsequently tested positive for COVID-19. This may become more prevalent as to date, people with COVID-19 symptoms are only tested for coronavirus on admittance to hospital.
Moving forward, testing facilities will become more available and factory operatives will have more access to testing for the presence of coronavirus. Cleaning and disinfection of an area known to have been contaminated is different from routine cleaning and disinfection in that disinfectants are chosen with known virucidal activity and additional risk assessments should be undertaken.

An area to be decontaminated may have residual Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) in the air and on surfaces. It is suggested that most of the virus particles produced by the COVID-19 sufferer will fall to the floor quickly within a 2m radius of the person though there may be some particles that are aerosolised and remain airborne. SARS-CoV-2 will lose infectivity in the air by 50% in approximately 3 hours but will also be diluted by air movements and room air changes. SARS-CoV-2 landing on the floor or on surfaces touched by the COVID-19 sufferer can remain infective for up to 72 hours (government advice) though this could be longer (up to 9 days) depending on the surface and conditions.

The longer after the COVID-19 sufferer was in the area before cleaning is undertaken, therefore, the lower the level of viable SARS-CoV-2 particles are likely to be present. It may be prudent, therefore, to leave areas to be cleaned for as long as possible prior to cleaning, particularly in ancillary areas were this may be more practical. In terms of additional PPE, it is likely that the requirement for the wearing of face masks should be considered.

The need for, or the type of protection chosen (visor plus disposable surgical masks, or disposable FFP2/FFP3 respirators, or ‘face fitted’ and individual protection devices), will depend on the probable level of SARS-CoV-2 particles present and the ability of the cleaning and disinfection method to produce droplets and aerosols. Cleaning techniques using wipes, or disinfectant sprays and wiping, will produce much lower levels of aerosol than techniques using hoses."


Holchem have interpreted European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) guidance into two generic CICs which can be accessed via our Covid-19 Update.