Published April 28, 2022
Who is responsible for cleaning and disinfecting in State facilities?
The Department of Buildings and General Services (BGS) is responsible for the regular cleaning of bathrooms, hallways, lobbies and other common areas. BGS employees also disinfect where appropriate such as in bathrooms. During flu season or a public health emergency our routine cleaning practice will include disinfecting of common areas and bathrooms or as otherwise recommended by the Vermont Health Department or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In most leased facilities contractors are hired to perform routine cleaning and disinfection services.
Agencies and departments are responsible for cleaning personal workspaces, shared workspaces, tools, and equipment. Agencies and departments may also clean in-suite conference rooms and kitchens immediately after use.
BGS will supply agencies and departments with *Environmentally Preferable* cleaning products to support their in-person operations in State facilities. Cleaning products are also available from State-contracted vendors. After reviewing the guidance on this page you may order cleaning products.
Are cleaning and disinfecting different?
Yes! Cleaning products and disinfectants serve different purposes.
Cleaning is a process that removes germs, dirt, and debris from surfaces or objects. Soap and water or a fragrance-free all-purpose cleaner are usually all that is needed for routine cleaning.
Disinfecting is a process that kills germs on surfaces or objects using chemicals that have been tested and approved for this purpose. In general, disinfectants are more hazardous than cleaners. You also must clean before you disinfect.
Disinfectants contain harsh chemicals that have been linked to acute and chronic health issues. They can cause eye, skin and respiratory irritation. Disinfectants often contain fragrances and active ingredients that can trigger allergies and asthma.
Disinfectants (including wipes) are registered pesticides that should only be used in accordance with the pesticide label. It is a common misconception that frequent disinfection is required for the creation of a clean and safe environment. When disinfectants are overused or misused it can potentially create germs that are resistant to disinfectants.
Should I clean or disinfect my workspace?
In most situations, you only need to clean.
Routine cleaning of common areas and shared workspaces is sufficient for State offices and most other public buildings. Residential (congregate) and healthcare facilities often have their own infection control policies which must be followed. Disinfection of State offices and most public buildings may be useful in flu season or during a public health emergency. Only surfaces that are frequently touched by multiple people need routine disinfection. Examples of frequently-touched surfaces include counters, tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, stair rails, elevator buttons, shared desks, and shared office equipment.
What products should employees use to clean workspaces and shared equipment?
Employees working in State-owned or leased facilities should use products that are proven to be safer for health and the environment. Products should be unscented and approved for use through state purchasing contracts. Almost always, a cleaner is all that is needed. Contact BGS if you have questions about the type and quanity of cleaning products to order.
Do I need to take any special precautions when using cleaners or disinfectants?
Proper handling and storage of cleaning products and disinfectants is essential to maintain a safe workplace. Always review product labels prior to handling or using a chemical. Follow all label instructions and manufacturer recommendations.
Personal protective equipment (PPE) is not required when using the Seventh Generation cleaning products or Oxivir TB disinfectant wipes, whether they are provided by BGS or by a State-contracted vendor.
While BGS has selected cleaning and disinfection products that have few hazards, many cleaners and disinfectants can irritate the eyes or throat, or cause headaches and other health problems. Safety Data Sheets must be reviewed and made available to all employees who use the cleaning products. BGS recommends keeping a printed copy of each Safety Data Sheet in a common area and directing employees to review any Safety Data Sheets for products they use.
BGS provides containers labeled in accordance with OSHA’s Hazard Communication Standard. Vendors should also provided labeled containers. Training and guidance on product use, storage, handling, or labeling of any cleaning product or disinfectant can be provided by BGS upon request. Send requests to BGS.EnvHealthSafety@vermont.gov.