Following the events of the COVID-19 pandemic, we all got a lesson in the importance of disinfecting and decontaminating surfaces. Removing microbes and bacteria from our work surfaces has always been an important part of keeping staff and customers safe. But an even greater emphasis was put on disinfection thanks to the rapid spread of the COVID virus.

While we have moved on from the pandemic, we have not forgotten the importance of clean and sanitary public spaces. But for some businesses, there are several lingering questions about the best way to go about disinfection and decontamination.

Who is responsible for disinfection and decontamination? What is the appropriate decontamination process? And what equipment should be used for disinfection and decontamination?

The simplest, and most effective, way to meet all of your disinfecting needs is to hire professional disinfecting services. Professional cleaners have the knowledge and equipment needed to deliver consistent, effective results.

But if you would still like to learn more about the decontamination process, this guide is for you.

What is the Difference: Disinfection vs Decontamination

Before getting into the specifics of cleaning contaminated surfaces, it’s important to define a couple of terms first. Many people might use “disinfection” and “decontamination” interchangeably. But these terms refer to different cleaning processes. When done properly, both are essential for maintaining a safe work space and preventing the spread of communicable diseases like COVID-19.


The disinfection process is designed to eliminate most pathogens and diseases but does not kill all microbes. When disinfecting a surface, the first essential step is to clean the surface using a detergent solution consisting of warm water and neutral detergent. After the surface has been cleaned, it can be disinfected.

Disinfectant solutions typically consist of a chlorine-releasing agent or chlorine dioxide. These solutions are effective at killing bacteria and viruses. However, disinfection does not kill spores, which means some microbes can survive. With that said, viruses do not spread through spores, so pathogens like the COVID-19 virus are killed by disinfection.

Following disinfection, most surfaces need to be rinsed off to prevent corrosion caused by the disinfectant solutions. Different surfaces and products often require different disinfectant solutions. Be sure to follow the specific disinfection policy for any surface or item you clean.


Decontamination is a more general term than disinfection. Decontamination is a process that seeks to remove microbial presence from all environmental surfaces. Decontamination is often used in healthcare facilities and labs to prevent exposure to specific microbes and pathogens. For instance, cleaners will decontaminate medical equipment and any contaminated surfaces in a hospital room before admitting new patients.

COVID-19 and Its Effect on Cleaning and Disinfecting Policies

Disinfection was always important, but the COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on public cleaning policies. During the early stages of the pandemic, the CDC and state governments put strict guidelines in place regarding disinfection, sanitation, and venue capacity. As we now know, the COVID virus can remain viable on certain surfaces for anywhere from eight hours to several days. Surfaces can be contaminated by droplets containing the virus, which can linger for hours or days without disinfection.

As a result, many businesses were required to adopt a more rigorous disinfection policy in order to remain open. Many of these policies are still in place, as it is still crucial to maintain clean and sanitary public spaces. For instance, many businesses are still required to disinfect all high-contact surfaces several times throughout the day, or after each use. Other businesses may require more frequent deep cleaning and disinfection than ever before.

Many businesses may face concerns about their ability to keep up with new disinfection policies. It can be difficult to trust that all contaminated surfaces are being cleaned thoroughly and properly without proper guidance. To learn more about proper disinfection procedures, read Dallas Janitorial’s guide to high-level disinfection.

cleaning and sanitizing the office

Who is Responsible for Disinfection and Decontamination?

Having clear guidelines for disinfection and decontamination is important for all businesses. Whether you work in healthcare, or hospitality, or are simply operating an office building, disinfection is crucial to maintaining health and safety.

But who is responsible for overseeing disinfection and decontamination?

In most settings, disinfection is a multi-step process. Different responsibilities fall to different individuals for certain cleaning tasks. Here is a rundown of the different workers who may be responsible for disinfecting and decontamination.


Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requirements stipulate that all employers must provide a “safe and healthful” work environment for their staff and the public. This includes the disinfection of contaminated surfaces. Most employers are not directly responsible for carrying out disinfection and decontamination processes. However, employers must set a policy for disinfection or ensure that employees have access to clean and sanitary work equipment and surfaces.

In-House Cleaning Staff and Sanitation Workers

Many businesses employ in-house cleaning workers to oversee specific disinfection procedures. Hospitals, for example, have very strict guidelines for disinfection and decontamination. As such, most hospitals use their own in-house cleaners for regular cleaning tasks which include but are not limited to, disinfection.

However, some studies have shown that manual cleaning of environmental surfaces in hospitals is not always perfect. In some facilities, only between 40-50% of surfaces that should be wiped clean are disinfected by the cleaning staff. In addition, cleaning efficiency has been shown to vary greatly between cleaners and rooms in some hospitals. A more consistent cleaning method for many businesses is to use specialized cleaning services.

Professional Disinfecting Services

Hiring professional disinfection services is the best way to ensure reliable results for many businesses. Disinfection services are singularly focused on disinfecting all contaminated surfaces, meaning they can deliver more consistent results. Professional cleaners also come equipped with all of the tools and chemical disinfectants needed to sanitize all environmental surfaces.

For businesses in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Dallas Janitorial is one of the most trusted commercial cleaning companies for high-level disinfection services. Dallas Janitorial’s flexibility and commitment to customer satisfaction help us to deliver excellent results across all industries.

Assigned Areas and Responsibilities for Disinfection and Decontamination

There are several different areas that require regular disinfection in commercial spaces. One of the many challenges for businesses is making sure that each area is disinfected properly. The disinfection policy for a public restroom is different from the disinfection policy for an office, for instance. This is another advantage afforded by professional cleaning services. Professional cleaners come equipped with everything they need to disinfect each assigned area according to existing guidelines and policies. Here are some of the most important areas to disinfect in public spaces.


In most settings, public restrooms need to be cleaned at least once per day. Some businesses, like restaurants, may need to perform more frequent restroom cleanings. The most basic form of decontamination for public restrooms involves sanitizing high-touch surfaces like faucets, handles, paper towel dispensers, and doors.


Offices present a unique challenge when it comes to disinfection. This is because every office may be slightly different. Factors to consider when setting an office disinfection policy include the number of workers, the volume of high-contact surfaces, and the types of chemical disinfectants used.

For office settings, an example of a cleaning guideline is to perform light cleaning and disinfection tasks daily. Deeper cleaning tasks can be performed less frequently. Some offices may schedule a weekly or monthly deep cleaning, or schedule disinfecting services in the event that a member of the office becomes sick. Read Dallas Janitorial’s guide to disinfecting offices to learn more about this subject.

Common Areas

Common areas are another crucial area when it comes to maintaining cleanliness and sanitation. Everybody has some responsibility when it comes to keeping common areas, like break rooms and cafeterias, clean. However, these areas should be disinfected by cleaning staff at least daily.

Clean Up Your Desk

Terminal Cleaning and How Professionals Can Assist You

For high-level disinfection, some businesses require terminal cleaning services. Terminal cleaning is commonly used in hospitals, labs, and healthcare facilities.

During terminal cleaning, all environmental surfaces are thoroughly disinfected. This includes walls, floors, reusable medical equipment, and any other surfaces in the facility. Terminal cleaning is often used following an outbreak of an illness or known infection in a facility.

Terminal cleaning is a very detailed and intricate process. In order to be effective, the cleaners responsible must be extremely thorough, making sure that every surface is covered. Because of this, it is essential that terminal cleaning jobs are reserved for professional cleaners. Terminal cleaning requires heavy-duty cleaning equipment, chemical disinfectants, personal protective equipment, and in-depth knowledge of proper cleaning procedures.

If you require terminal cleaning services for your business, Dallas Janitorial may be able to help. Our experience and range of cleaning services mean that Dallas Janitorial can help keep your business safe and prevent the spread of disease.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the main cleaning agent used to decontaminate patient equipment?

Hydrogen peroxide and alkaline-based cleaning agents are commonly used to decontaminate medical equipment.

What cleaning agent is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for decontaminating environmental surfaces?

The CDC does not recommend any single cleaning agent for decontaminating environmental surfaces. Instead, they provide a list of approved disinfectants that can be used based on the surface and type of pathogen(s) in the environment.

What is the most effective type of disinfectant to use when decontaminating after a norovirus outbreak?

Chlorine bleach is recommended for disinfection following a norovirus outbreak.

Which is the most effective method used for decontaminating waste?

The most effective decontamination method for waste depends on the type of waste involved. Common methods include removal, sanitization, and chemical detoxification. Read the OSHA guidelines for waste decontamination to learn more.

Does Your Business Need High-Level Disinfection Services?

Disinfection of public and commercial spaces should not be taken lightly. As we learned during the COVID-19 pandemic, disinfection of contaminated surfaces is one of the most important steps to preventing serious outbreaks. High-level disinfection often requires the work of experienced and well-equipped professionals. Proper disinfection is a matter of both public and worker safety, so it should be a top priority for any business.

If you need disinfecting services for your business, contact Dallas Janitorial today. Dallas Janitorial is one of the region’s highest-rated professional cleaning services.

With expertise across a wide range of industries, your business can trust Dallas Janitorial to disinfect and clean your workspace.

Posted in