Healthcare Pathogen Education

The Delta Variant May Have Changed the Landscape, but it Doesn’t Change Cleaning and Disinfecting Practices

COVID-19 infections caused by the delta variant are surging in much of the United States and globally, just as countries are continuing to open and get back to some level of normal. In the United States, the end of the summer will mark the return to school for millions of kids. Similarly, many businesses are considering how or whether to have workers return to offices and if so, on what schedule. And all over the country, restaurants, movie theaters, concert venues and other entertainment venues are continuing to welcome back customers. As they do so, they continue to implement a range of infection prevention measures recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) which include among others, promoting vaccination, improving ventilation, regular hand hygiene, wearing of masks, cleaning and disinfecting, COVID-19 testing, and case investigation and contact tracing of employees.

CDC guidance on cleaning and disinfecting non-healthcare facilities has been updated periodically to reflect the current state of evidence, but the general principles and practices have remained the same.1 Although the risk of COVID-19 transmission from surfaces is low, it’s important to remember that other disease-causing bacteria and viruses can also be spread this way. Consequently, regular cleaning and disinfection is important to help keep your facility users healthy.

The most common questions asked about cleaning and disinfecting facilities to help prevent COVID-19 are how often and when. Based on current CDC guidance, cleaning with products containing soap and detergents can decrease the risk of infection from surfaces. Disinfection with an EPA-registered List N disinfectant may further reduce the risk of pathogens. If a COVID-19-positive person has been in the facility within the previous 24 hours, then the facility should be cleaned and disinfected. It’s worth remembering that the EPA expects that all List N disinfectants will kill COVID-19 virus variants, including the Delta variant, which is currently responsible for most of the infections in the United States.

However, there are other situations where more regular cleaning and disinfection may be necessary:

  • In high-traffic areas in shared spaces where surfaces could be touched regularly by multiple people. These criteria could apply to many school settings.
  • If COVID-19 transmission rates in the community are high. With the current Delta variant surge, this may apply to many parts of the country. In the CDC’s COVID-19 Integrated County View tracker, you can find the level of community transmission for any county in the U.S., classified as low, moderate, substantial and high.2
  • If there are low vaccination rates in your community. In the same COVID-19 tracker, you can find out the vaccination rates in any county in the U.S.
  • If the wearing of masks by unvaccinated people is low, or hand hygiene is infrequently practiced.
  • If your facility is frequently used or occupied by people at a higher risk for severe illness, such as older people, those with chronic health conditions, or those who have long experienced systemic health and social inequities.

This guidance can help facility managers assess the risks of transmission from surfaces and develop appropriate cleaning and disinfecting plans and protocols.  

For the latest information on COVID-19 and variants, visit our CloroxPro COVID-19 Hub.

1. U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Cleaning and Disinfecting Your Facility. Every Day and When Someone is Sick. Updated June 15, 2021. Accessed August 4, 2021.
2. The County Tracker is part of the CDC’s COVID Data Tracker.  Accessed August 4, 2021.