Profiles of Innovative State Programs: Washington - Guidance on Cleaning and Disinfection

The Washington State Department of Health (WA DOH) is a leader in providing guidance on proper cleaning and disinfecting practices in public spaces, including in schools and classrooms. The state has developed resources on best practices for preventing the spread of germs while reducing exposure to harsh chemicals that can be harmful to health in their own right.

Why is this Project Important?

The COVID-19 crisis has brought with it increased attention to cleaning and disinfecting, particularly in shared spaces. Cleaning and disinfecting practices that minimize chemical exposures are vital, as the chemicals contained in some cleaning products may lead to health effects including asthma and respiratory symptoms, headaches, rashes, birth defects, cancer, and neurological/behavioral problems. Safe cleaning is especially important in schools because children are more susceptible to many of these risks; for kids with asthma, the health effects can be immediate and are suffered disproportionately by children of color.

What Materials Have Been Developed Under the Project?

WA DOH has released a guidance document entitled Safely Cleaning and Disinfecting Public Spaces. The document describes safe cleaning practices for a variety of public spaces and items, from shared restrooms to electronic equipment. The guidance focuses on cleaning and disinfection to control the spread of COVID-19.

An earlier, related publication from WA DOH is Classroom Cleaning Tips for Teachers, which provides guidance to teachers who choose to do cleaning in addition to that done by school custodial staff. The material emphasizes handwashing with plain fragrance-free soap, cleaning (preferably with a third-party certified green cleaners) to remove dirt and germs and leaving disinfecting to custodial staff.

How Can You Learn More?

For further information and related materials, visit the Washington State DOH webpages on School Environmental Health and Safety ( and Indoor Air Quality (