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COVID-19 Disinfection Guidance

Learn about decontamination guidance for research labs and SARS-CoV-2.

This guidance provides cleaning and disinfection requirements for research areas. It is aimed at limiting the survival of SARS-CoV-2 and protecting lab personnel from exposure. These recommendations will be updated if additional information becomes available.  


General research areas cleaning guidance

Enhanced Cleaning For Prevention

General guidance

  1. Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfecting, focusing on high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, light switches, communal rooms, countertops, buttons, handrails, tables, faucets, shared equipment, and shared keyboards. Increased frequency of cleaning and disinfecting with attention to these areas helps remove bacteria and viruses, including the novel coronavirus.
  2. Practice good hand hygiene after cleaning (and always):
    1. Wash hands often with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds.
    2. If soap and warm water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Safety guidelines during cleaning and disinfection

  1. Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting. Gloves should be discarded after each use. Clean hands immediately after gloves are removed.
  2. Wear eye protection when there is a potential for splash or splatter to the face.
  3. Gowns or aprons are recommended to protect personal clothing.
  4. Store chemicals in labeled, closed containers. Store them in a manner that prevents tipping or spilling.

Cleaning and disinfection of surfaces

  1. Clean surfaces and objects that are visibly soiled first. If surfaces are dirty to sight or touch, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water before disinfection.
  2. Clean and disinfect surfaces as soon as possible in areas where a person with respiratory symptoms (e.g., coughing, sneezing) was present.
    1. Use an EPA-registered disinfectant for use against the novel coronavirus. Refer to the list of products pre-approved for use against emerging enveloped viral pathogens, or the list of disinfectants for use against SARSCoV-2.
    2. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe and effective use of all cleaning and disinfection products (e.g., dilution concentration, application method and contact time, required ventilation, and use of personal protective equipment).
    3. Consult manufacturer recommendations on cleaning products appropriate for electronics. If no guidance is available, consider the use of alcohol-based wipes or spray containing at least 70% alcohol. The use of alcohol-based products may reduce the risk of damage to sensitive machine components. Whenever possible, consider using cleanable covers for electronics. Dry surfaces thoroughly to avoid the pooling of liquids.
The following products are effective for disinfection of hard, non-porous surfaces:
  • Diluted household bleach solutions (at least 1000ppm sodium hypochlorite) can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for application, ensuring a contact time of at least 1 minute, and allowing proper ventilation during and after application. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted. Prepare a bleach solution by mixing 1 part bleach to 9 parts water.
For soft (porous) surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, and drapes:
  • Remove visible contamination (if present) and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces.
  • After cleaning, launder items (as appropriate) by following the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely.
  • If laundering is not possible, use an EPA-registered disinfectant for use against COVID-19. Refer to the list of products pre-approved for use against emerging enveloped viral pathogens, or the list of disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2.

Remember: Wash hands and wrists with soap and water for 20 seconds.

Hazardous material research labs guidance

Cleaning/Disinfection SOP for Hazardous Material Laboratories During Coronavirus Pandemic

This document aims to provide guidance for self-cleaning by researchers in laboratory spaces where additional PPE is required. This cleaning SOP is designed to disinfect touch surfaces, reduce the generation of aerosols, and empower you to disinfect your entire laboratory space safely. Research laboratories contain sensitive materials and equipment, which is why following a proper procedure is essential. Custodial services are providing more frequent cleaning of lobbies, breakrooms, bathrooms, elevators, handrails, and other common areas and touchpoints throughout the day. If you have questions or concerns, please reach out to

  1. Prevent the Spread- Follow all UC San Diego and county, state, and federal Public Health requirements in place during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Wash your hands often with soap and water (20 seconds of scrubbing). Hand sanitizer is not a substitute for handwashing in the laboratory. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, which accelerates the spread of infections. Wear a face covering, lab coat, gloves, and eye safety protection when working in the lab.

  2. Scope of Disinfection- Disinfect all areas in which a person has been present, including all touched surfaces in clean areas, and any lab surfaces with which they had direct contact (lab benches, chairs, chemical cabinets, doorknobs, fume hoods, etc.). It is not necessary to disinfect floors unless visible or suspected contamination is present. Use professional judgment concerning sterilizing equipment. When in doubt, disinfect.

  3. Cleaning / Disinfection Frequency- Disinfection frequency depends on the amount of activity in the lab and shared areas. Surface disinfection should be done before and following the use of lab bench areas, equipment controls, and keyboards. At the very least, deeper disinfection of lab areas should occur daily, before closing for the day. Disinfection of highly touched surfaces such as chairs, desktops, computer keyboards, computer displays, remotes, light switches, elevator buttons, handrails, doorknobs, doors, door push plates, card readers, refrigerator/freezer handles and their doors; equipment panels/switches, benchtops; biosafety cabinet and fume hood sashes and their working surfaces; commonly used hand tools and small objects (pipettors); and shared PPE (e.g., laser goggles). Be careful when disinfecting sensitive equipment to prevent damage or disruption of the equipment. Consult with equipment manufacturers on viable options if you have questions.

  4. Select a Disinfectant- Use one of the following disinfectants:

    1. A freshly prepared solution of 10% household bleach.
    2. EPA-certified disinfectants such as a quaternary ammonium [Lysol, RX 44, etc.], hydrogen peroxide [Spore Klenz, etc.] or iodophore-based [Wescodyne, etc.] solution suitable for routine surface disinfection. You may also use wipe-based disinfectants such as Clorox wipes [quaternary ammonium] or Cavicide. A full list of EPA-registered disinfectants can be found here.
    3. A solution of 70% ethanol. Properly manage flammable liquids.
  5. Check for Compatibility- Before applying a disinfectant, determine any materials or equipment located in the lab that potentially could be incompatible (e.g., bleach). Some equipment may require a secondary wipe-down with water or ethanol.
  6. Preparing the Lab- Dispose of all benchtop absorbent pad, cardboard, or other porous materials. Ensure that all sharps are stored or disposed of appropriately. Discard all contents of benchtop waste containers into an appropriate waste stream.
  7. Wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)- at minimum, lab coat, disposable gloves, and eye protection.
  8. Clean and apply disinfectant to the surface by wiping, spraying, or applying the solution to a paper towel and wiping it onto the surface. If the surface is visibly contaminated or wet with possible contaminants, place absorbent material (e.g. paper towels) directly over the contamination and apply disinfectant and clean. Wipe to remove contamination and dispose of the absorbent material as indicated under Disposal (below), and disinfect the surface again.
    1. The surface must remain wet for the contact time indicated for the disinfectant used. Household bleach and 70% ethanol both require a contact time of 10 minutes. If the surface dries, reapply the solution. As 70% ethanol is very volatile and dries quickly, it is best used as a secondary cleaner following a 10 min application of 10% bleach. Refer to the Summary of Disinfectants for further information on surface disinfectants.
  9. Wipe the surface to remove residual disinfectant.
  10. Disposal- Dispose of cleaning material in lab trash containers in accordance with campus procedures: Research Waste Disposal Guidelines.
  11. Remove PPE- Remove your PPE without contaminating yourself:
    1. Gloves: Using a gloved hand, grasp the palm area of the other gloved hand and peel off the first glove. Hold removed glove in gloved hand. Slide fingers of ungloved hand under remaining glove at the wrist and peel off the second glove over the first glove. Discard in the designated waste container. Wash your hands in a laboratory sink with soap and water.
    2. Lab Coat/Disposable Gown: Unfasten gown ties or unsnap/unbutton your lab coat; taking care of the outside of the coat or sleeves don’t contact your body. Pull the gown or coat away from your neck and shoulders, touching the inside of gown or coat only. Turn gown or coat inside out. If you do not have a lab coat, reach out to the campus PPE office.
    3. Eye Protection: Remove safety glasses, wipe with disinfectant, and then wash with soap and water to remove any chemical residue.


Contact the EHS RAP Team for lab-specific questions or EH&S Biosafety for bio-related questions.