Cleaning and Decontamination of Ebola on Surfaces

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OSHA Fact Sheet

Employees tasked with cleaning surfaces that may be contaminated with the Ebola virus must be protected from exposure. Veterinary practices are responsible for ensuring that their employees are protected from exposure to Ebola and that they are not exposed to harmful levels of chemicals used for cleaning and disinfection.


Use Appropriate Protective Equipment

Practices must provide personal protective equipment (PPE) (such as gloves, gowns, goggles and facemasks) that will protect employees against Ebola virus and other hazards to which they may be exposed. Employees must wear PPE to help minimize exposure to the virus via mucous membranes or broken skin. PPE suitable for contact-transmissible diseases, such as Ebola, includes:

  • Nitrile gloves (consider using double-gloves for extra protection)
  • Fluid-resistant or fluid-impermeable gowns
  • Goggles or face shields
  • Facemasks that cover the nose and mouth
  • In some cases respiratory protection (e.g., respirators) may be necessary


Guidelines for Cleaning and Disinfection

  • Immediately clean and disinfect any visible surface contamination from blood, urine, feces, vomit, or other fluids that may contain Ebola virus
  • Isolate areas of suspected Ebola virus contamination until decontamination is completed to minimize exposure to individuals not performing the work
  • Cover spills with absorbent material (e.g., paper towels), then pour disinfectant on to saturate the area, and allow bleach to soak into spills for at least 30 minutes before cleaning to allow it to kill any virus or other infectious agents that may be present
  • Treat any visible contamination or bulk spill matter with a suitable disinfectant before cleaning up and removing bulk material
  • After disinfecting and removing bulk material, clean and decontaminate the surface using the disinfectant
  • Ensure adequate ventilation in areas where workers are using disinfectants, including by opening windows and doors, or using mechanical ventilation equipment
  • Use tools, such as tongs from a spill kit, as much as possible rather than doing cleanup work directly with gloved hands
  • After cleaning and disinfection work is complete, remove PPE as follows: gloves, face shield/goggles, gown, and then mask/respirator. Wash hands with soap and water, or use an alcohol-based hand gel if no running water is available


Additional Resources


Bloodborne Pathogens (and Needlesticks)


Respiratory Protection

Hazardous and Toxic Substances

Hazard Communication Web Page


This article provides general guidelines. Readers should verify to ensure that they comply with federal, state, and local regulations.