Enhanced Cleaning FAQ

University Buildings

How is UMass cleaning and disinfecting buildings across campus?

UMass Amherst has a trained and professional custodial staff that is responding to the needs of campus in regard to the COVID-19 outbreak on a daily basis. In addition to the standard custodial cleaning protocols, the university has implemented an enhanced cleaning frequency to clean and disinfect common areas and commonly touched surfaces. The disinfectant used meets EPA criteria for use against COVID-19. Touch points such as entrance handles, handrails, elevator buttons, tables and restroom stall handles/doors are being cleaned at least once daily, five days a week. An enhanced cleaning frequency has also been implemented in dining halls and retail dining spaces, Residential halls, Hotel UMass, and athletic and campus recreation areas.

Is hand sanitizer available on campus?

Facility maintainers are tasked with monitoring soap and hand sanitizer dispensers. The university has many hand sanitizer stations containing alcohol-based hand sanitizer placed throughout campus. These stations are routinely located in high-traffic building entrances.

Although hand sanitizer can help prevent the spread of the virus, practicing the CDC’s proper hand-washing technique is considered to be more effective.

Facilities and Campus Services also delivered more than 240 Health Smart Kits to high-traffic offices around campus.  These kits contain hand sanitizer bottles, cleaning wipes and tissues.

How can I disinfect my workplace?

Faculty, staff and students can also help by disinfecting work areas.  Work practices such as cleaning (several times per day) commonly touched surfaces such as lab benches, lab equipment, desks, phones, remote controls, printers, fax machines, computer mice and keyboards, help reduce the threat of disease transmission. The university recommends that departments or units purchase EPA-registered disinfectants for use against COVID-19. Always use cleaning products as recommended on manufacturer labels, including wearing disposable gloves where directed.

Wash your hands thoroughly on a routine basis as well as after cleaning. Hand washing should include the use of regular soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. If soap is not immediately available, use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol content or greater.

Laboratory spaces and adjoining offices

What is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?

Cleaning refers to the removal of germs, dirt and impurities from surfaces. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.

Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs. However, disinfecting a surface after cleaning can further lower the risk of spreading infection.

What is the recommended practice for disinfecting surfaces?

Wear disposable gloves and eye protection when disinfecting surfaces, and ensure the area has good ventilation. If the area does not have good ventilation, disinfect and leave the area until the surfaces have dried. Discard gloves after each cleaning and clean hands immediately.

Using paper towels, first clean dirty surfaces with a detergent or soap and water, then carefully apply disinfectant and wipe to evenly distribute the disinfectant. Avoid spraying disinfectant on the surfaces to prevent the creation of aerosols. Allow surfaces to air dry. Discard paper towels and disinfecting wipes into the regular trash.

Which disinfectants kill the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

The virus is effectively killed by using 10% freshly prepared bleach, 70% ethanol, or disinfecting wipes. Virkon-S is a safe disinfectant for use around animal areas. Do not mix bleach with ammonia or other cleaners. The EPA has provided a helpful list of registered disinfectants that are effective against the novel coronavirus, including ready-to-use Clorox and Lysol products.

How long does it take for a disinfectant to kill the novel coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Consult the product label for the contact time or dwell time. Cleaning wipes do not kill the virus, so be sure to use disinfecting wipes and follow the instructions carefully. Disinfecting wipes must remain wet to be effective. Be sure to tightly close the lid when not in use. 

Due to the novel nature of this virus, it may not be listed on product labels at this time. The EPA has an accelerated process in place to allow for novel viruses to be added to product labels. 

How frequently should disinfection occur?

Disinfection frequency depends on the amount of activity in the lab and shared office areas. At the very least, disinfection should occur daily before closing for the day. Janitorial services are providing stepped-up cleaning of cafeterias, breakrooms, bathrooms and other common areas nightly. Contact your building manager or work services for details regarding janitorial services. 

What surfaces need to be disinfected?

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, bench tops; biosafety cabinet and fume hood sashes and their working surfaces; bio-waste container lids; commonly used hand tools and small objects (pipettors); and shared PPE (laser goggles). Be careful when disinfecting sensitive equipment to prevent disruption of the equipment.

What are some recommended daily hygiene practices?

Avoid touching your face (eyes, nose, mouth) and having close contact with others. Wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer frequently. Keep a 6-foot distance from others to reduce potential person-to-person transmission. 

Sneeze into your arm to reduce the spread of the virus in respiratory droplets (the common transmission pathway for the virus). While the virus is not thought to transmit effectively through a person’s contact with surfaces, current evidence suggests that novel coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in our working and living spaces.

Do not share your personal phone, pen/pencil/computer mouse with others. If using shared laptops or keyboards, disinfect before each use (take care to prevent liquid from getting inside the computer).