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CDC revises COVID-19 guidance on cleaning and disinfecting

Sanitization vs disinfection: What CDC says about sanitizing
Photo: BrianAJackson/iStockphoto

Atlanta — Prompted by available data and studies that show the risk of contracting COVID-19 via contact with surfaces is low, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is relaxing its exposure-prevention guidance on cleaning and disinfecting.

Cleaning and disinfecting has been a key element of CDC guidance during the pandemic. Now, in a science brief issued April 5 and based on available epidemiological data and studies of environmental transmission factors, the agency says, “Surface transmission is not the main route by which SARS-CoV-2 (the coronavirus that causes COVID-19) spreads.” Instead, the highest risk of transmission is via exposure to respiratory droplets carrying the virus.

CDC adds: “Cleaning surfaces using soap or detergent, and not disinfecting, is enough to reduce risk.” However, disinfection is still recommended in indoor work environments where a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 was present within the past 24 hours.


The risk of transmission from surfaces can be reduced, according to CDC, by wearing masks consistently and correctly, practicing hand hygiene, cleaning, and taking other measures to maintain safe facilities.

The number of COVID-19 infections potentially linked to surface transmission is unavailable because of a lack of reporting of such cases. Quantitative microbial risk assessment studies estimate the risk of surface transmission is less than 1 in 10,000.

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