What is Facilities Management Custodial Services doing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

Per CDC guidance, Custodial Services is continuing routine cleaning and disinfection, using EPA-approved disinfectants against COVID-19. Brown custodial managers have extensive industry knowledge and experience. In response to the H1N1 pandemic in 2009, Custodial Services put a number of enhanced cleaning protocols in place to minimize the spread of that and other viruses. For over a decade, we have put these practices into effect for every cold and flu season. As a result, Brown was well positioned when the current pandemic reached the United States. We will continue to follow these enhanced protocols throughout the pandemic, as well as other times of heightened risk in the future.


What cleaning products is FM Custodial using to protect against COVID-19?

Custodians use CDC-recommended chemicals from the EPA's "List N" to disinfect surfaces on campus. These products include:

  • Alpha HP Disinfectant Cleaner (EPA Registration Number 70627-62; aka "Phato")
  • Triad III Disinfectant Cleaner (EPA Registration Number 70627-15; aka "Warrior")
  • Oxivir Wipes (EPA Registration Number 70627-60)
  • Oxivir Tb (for disinfecting using electrostatic sprayers) (EPA Registration Number 70627-56)
  • Evaclean Purtabs (for disinfecting using electrostatic sprayers) (EPA Registration Number 71847-6; aka "Klorsept")

The EPA expects all products on List N to kill all strains of SARS-CoV-2. Genetic changes to the virus do not impact the efficacy of disinfectants. 

List N disinfectants work by chemically inactivating viruses. The difficulty of killing a virus depends on its physical features, and the recent mutations to SARS-CoV-2 have not changed the basic physical properties.

What is my responsibility toward keeping my individual work space clean and sanitized? 

Students, faculty, and staff are encouraged to keep their personal items (e.g., cell phones, other electronics, etc.) and personal work and living spaces clean. Students, faculty, and staff should use disinfectant wipes to wipe down shared desks, lab equipment, and other shared objects and surfaces before use.


What should faculty, staff, and students do to clean work equipment that was taken home and will be brought back to campus?

Items such as keyboards, laptops, monitors, mouse(s) should be wiped down at home, prior to returning to campus, with an EPA-approved non-commercial disinfectant wipe. Staff should follow the label instructions on the bottle. FM can furnish a list of non-commercial products that directly cross-reference to the EPA-approved standards upon request.


Do I have to use university-issued cleaning products at work or can I bring my own from home?

You may not bring your own cleaning products to use at work. You may use your own alcohol based hand sanitizer.  Disinfecting cleaning products. and hand sanitizer provided by the University have been reviewed by EHS for safety and effectiveness against coronaviruses.


How do I know household products are safe and effective?

Disinfecting cleaning products and hand sanitizer provided by the University have been reviewed by EHS for safety and effectiveness against coronaviruses.  EHS has verified that disinfecting wipes provided do not require the use of personal protective equipment (gloves or eye protection).   Caution must be taken with chemicals provided in a spray bottle.  Some of these products are commercial grade and do require gloves and/or eye protection.  Be sure to follow the instructions on the product label.  Product safety information can be found in a Safety Data Sheet (SDS) here.


How does FM define common areas and how frequently are they cleaned and disinfected?

FM defines common areas as those that are high-visibility, high-use, or high-profile, such as restrooms, heavily-used classrooms, conference rooms, meeting rooms, entrance lobbies, elevators, break rooms, or other areas designated to receive focused cleaning efforts.


What common area high-touch surfaces are FM disinfecting?

FM is disinfecting the following surfaces in common areas at least once a day:

Chair Handles & Backs


Toilet & Urinal Flushometers 

Trash Receptacle Tops Paper Towel & Toilet Tissue Dispensers  Sink Faucets & Handles 
Table Tops  Mailboxes  Tablet Arms & Brackets 
Kiosk Buttons  Light Switches  Stair Rails 
Elevator Buttons Outside & Inside Elevator Cabs  Vending Machine Buttons  


What is the custodial cleaning schedule for my research building?

Research buildings are cleaned and disinfected on the following schedule (including a floater 7 days/week):

  • GeoChem: 3pm – 11pm
  • MacMillan: 3pm – 11pm
  • Barus & Holley: 4am – 12pm & 11pm-7am
  • Prince Engineering Lab: 3pm – 11pm
  • Engineering Research Center: 3pm – 11pm & 11pm-7am
  • BioMed Complex: 4am – 12pm; Floor Care (CARES) 11pm – 7 am
  • Life Sciences Building: 11pm – 7 am 
  • 70 Ship: 11pm – 7 am
  • 85 Waterman: 11pm – 7 am
  • Metcalf (Mind Brain): 3pm – 11 pm & 11pm – 7 am
  • Arnold Lab: 3pm – 11 pm
  • MRL: 11pm – 7 am


How is FM ensuring that my building is being regularly cleaned and disinfected?

FM has created a Daily Cleaning and Disinfecting Supervisor Log utilizing Smart Inspect cleaning software. This log contains a checklist that allows the following:

  • Managers and Supervisors to check off assignments as they are completed, which automatically creates a record of the date/time of inspection. 
  • All data will be compiled and reviewable by Senior Management via Smart Inspect dashboard and reports.
  • Documentation complies with RIDOH requirements.


What does FM specifically clean in lab spaces?

FM has modified custodial tasks in research labs to include:

  • Daily removal of trash and recycling
  • Weekly floor vacuuming
  • Weekly floor washing and disinfection
  • Twice-daily disinfecting of all high-touch areas
  • Glass cleaning
  • Restocking hand soap and paper towel products
  • Limited dusting


If I need hand soap or paper products refilled in my lab, who should I call?

For staff within the BioMed facility and for hand sanitizer only, please contact BioMed Facilities Planning and Operations (FPO) office. 

For all research staff, to request dispenser refills of soap or paper towels, please call FM’s 24/7 Service Response Center at 401-863-7800, and we will respond to your request.


How do I clean and disinfect my lab space?

FM Custodial staff does not clean desktops, monitors, telephones, or any personal computing equipment. It is the responsibility of lab occupants and researchers to clean all lab-related equipment, instruments, and electronic equipment. Supplies will be furnished through your Departmental stockroom. Please follow your Departmental processes.

For disinfection protocols in your lab spaces, please use what is provided by the University via the stockroom. Follow the manufacturer’s label and ensure the disinfectant is compatible with the surface you are going to disinfect. Wipes and spray may be used; however, wipes are recommended for delicate and electronic equipment.


Will each shared public space within a research facility have cleaning materials in them (e.g., break rooms, kitchenettes)?

Cleaning products will be supplied in common areas by your department stockroom. Please use established departmental processes to request additional supplies.


What is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?

Cleaning is the necessary first step of any disinfection process. Cleaning removes organic matter, salts, and visible soils, all of which interfere with microbial inactivation. The physical action of scrubbing with detergents and surfactants and rinsing with water removes substantial numbers of microorganisms. If a surface is not cleaned first, the success of the disinfection process can be compromised. Removal of all visible inorganic and organic matter can be as critical as the germicidal activity of the disinfecting agent.


Should we assume that faculty and students are responsible for disinfecting lab spaces and equipment between classes?

Yes, Facilities Management will provide DIY cleaning/disinfecting supplies with which faculty and students should clean instructional lab spaces and equipment between classes. Additionally, FM is developing a plan to clean high-touch surfaces in classrooms with more frequency through the day.


Do paper towel dispensers use products made with recycled materials?

Yes, all dispensers are stocked with Georgia Pacific paper towels made with 100% recycled material.


Are construction workers and contractors allowed on campus at this time?

Construction companies and contractors have approval from Facilities Management to work on specified projects.  These projects have all been through an approval process and are following COVID-19 site-specific plans for the safety of contractors and the public.


How often are bathrooms cleaned?

Facilities Management custodians clean all bathrooms across campus at least once per day. Higher use bathrooms are also serviced by “floater” custodians and are cleaned at least twice per day.


What do custodians clean and what is my department expected to clean?

Facilities Management custodians clean and disinfect restrooms and high-touch surfaces in public spaces.  Individuals should clean and disinfect frequently touched items in their own work area on a daily basis, including computer and peripherals, phones, desks, tools and other shared equipment.


Who should I reach out to about disinfection cleaning policies in departmentally controlled spaces and/or events? 

For departmental controlled spaces, the expectation is that occupants will disinfect utilizing the DIY program and custodial services will continue to clean and disinfect based on the schedule identified on FM’s website (Brown login required).


Where do staff/faculty get cleaning supplies?

If you need disinfectant wipes or other cleaning supplies for your work area, request supplies from your supervisor.  Supervisors may contact FM Service Response at (401)-863-7800 if assistance is needed to obtain DIY supplies.


Is it okay to use disinfectant wipes intended for surfaces to clean my hands?

Unless clearly indicated in the instructions provided by the manufacturer, most cleaning products (including disinfecting wipes) are designed for use on hard surfaces and should not be used to sanitize hands.  These products are often formulated with harsher chemicals than similar sanitizing wipe products intended for use on a person and may residue in accidentally wiped into the eyes.


Which is better – hand sanitizer or washing with soap and water?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) advises that the best way to prevent the spread of infections and decrease the risk of getting COVID-19 is to by wash your hands with soap and water.  Washing hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds is essential, especially after going to the bathroom, before eating, and after coughing, sneezing, or blow one’s nose. If soap and water are not available, CDC recommends consumers use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% ethanol.


Is it okay to use an electric hand dryer?

Both the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) continue to include the use of warm air dryers as a means for drying hands after washing them.  There have been recent studies that suggest a potential for aerosols and fine droplets to be generated during hand drying using an electronic/warm air dryer; however, the risk of this process contributing to the spread of COVID-19 virus is minimal when this process follows an effective hand cleaning.


Are all hand sanitizers the same? If not, which are effective against the virus that causes COVID-19?

Alcohol-based hand sanitizers with at least 60% ethanol or isopropyl alcohol are most effective against COVID-19.  Hand sanitizers with the active ingredient of benzalkonium chloride are not as effective. Those with any other material listed as the active ingredient are not recommended by the CDS or the FDA for COVID-19.

Revision Date: August 17, 2020