Safe handling and decontamination protocols (English)

Safe handling and decontamination protocols
English version Original document by Christy Canida

Safe Handling Protocol.PDF (111.9 KB)

I’ve had several people ask me for best practices for strict safe handling and decontamination
procedures to effectively isolate themselves and protect immunocompromised or otherwise
vulnerable family members from Covid-19. While nothing is perfect, here are a set of
reasonable practices you can adopt to minimize the risk of infecting yourself and other people
within your home.
I have a background in designing protocols for sterile technique in labs and biopharmaceutical
manufacturing facilities, and have attempted to adapt instructions so they can be followed by a
tired, untrained human. While you may not choose to adopt all of the recommendations below,
they offer reasonable guidance for minimizing contamination, and you can decide how
stringently to apply them. This document is a work in progress. I’ll be updating with references,
more examples, clarifications, and new information as it comes to my attention.

  1. Virus is transmitted via surfaces and actively-projected droplets 1 , not aerosols (except in
    confined spaces and specific healthcare situations 2 )
  2. Virus dies in <24h on most porous surfaces without additional measures 3 . (Longer on
    plastics, metal, etc, potentially up to 9 days in prime conditions.)
  3. No members of the family already have/are shedding the virus. Every time someone
    leaves the house or touches anything that might be exposed is an opportunity to
    introduce infection.
  4. Individuals can shed virus before they display symptoms, and some individuals
    (especially children and younger adults) may be infected without displaying any
    symptoms during the entire course of their infection.
    Disinfection options 4 :
  5. Soap and water – scrub and rinse thoroughly to disrupt virus’s lipid bilayer. Minimum 20
    seconds for hand washing.
  6. >70% alcohol (isopropanol or ethanol) – apply evenly and allow to air dry
  7. 10% dilute bleach (>0.1% Sodium hypochlorite) – apply evenly and allow to air dry
  8. >0.5% hydrogen peroxide – apply evenly and wipe after 1 minute if needed
  9. Benzalkonium chloride and other chemicals are not as effective but can decrease the
    number of viruses on a surface.
    Avoiding droplet contamination when out:


  1. Don’t touch face, especially mucous membranes (eyes, mouth, nose)
  2. Maintain >6’ buffer from others whenever possible
  3. STAY AWAY from anyone who is coughing or sneezing
  4. Keep track of anything you touch with your hands and/or body (car seat, steering wheel,
    phone, wallet, mail, bags, boxes, door handles, etc) and disinfect upon return home
  5. Disinfect hands when you get into car if possible
  6. Conduct re-entry protocol upon return home
    Re-entry protocol after potential contamination: (remove droplets shed by others)
  7. Wash or sanitize hands as soon as possible without tracking through the house
  8. Leave footwear at the door.
  9. Remove all outerwear immediately upon entry, and put directly into the washer. Wash
    as usual with laundry soap and warm water. If you can’t launder clothing, quarantine it
    for at least 24 hours, longer for slippery surfaces like leather, plastic, or rubber.
  10. Wash hands and/or take shower depending on level of potential exposure. Use soap
    and water to clean exposed surfaces, including shampoo to wash hair. Be sure to
    disinfect faucet handles, door knobs, elevator buttons, etc that may have been touched
    with dirty hands.
  11. Use paper towels for drying hands upon re-entry. Change cloth towels and hand towels
    daily. Do not share cloth towels unless everyone has been isolated in the house for at
    least a week with no symptoms.
    Delivery handling protocol:
  12. Have items delivered and left at front door/entryway without proximity/contact
  13. Let items sit in the sun for a bit if feasible as this is detrimental to the virus (obviously
    not appropriate for refrigerated/frozen deliveries, or areas where packages are stolen)
  14. If direct handoff is necessary, ask for item to be put down, and retrieve item when the
    other person has retreated to a distance of >6’.
  15. Boxes, packages, and mail:
    a. If feasible, bring into a secure location and leave alone for >24h before opening
    as usual. (Wash hands after handling freshly-delivered box, and before touching
    anything else.)
    b. If opening <24h, open box/package, dump contents out onto clean and washable
    surface without touching contents, dispose of box/package, and wash hands
    before touching anything else.
    c. Disinfect any door knobs, faucet handles, trash lids, or other areas you may have
  16. Grocery deliveries:
    a. Bring bags inside, set on an open washable surface (usually the floor), and wash
    hands before continuing.
    b. Get out clean bags for food quarantine. These may be grocery bags from
    previous deliveries that are outside >24h quarantine window.
    c. Designate one “clean” hand and one “dirty” hand. Use the “dirty” hand to
    transfer food items to clean “quarantine” bags, separating items into different

bags if they are stored in refrigerator/freezer/room temperature, while you
manipulate clean “quarantine” bags with your clean hand. Wash hands.
d. Close bags so all quarantined items are fully contained inside, and place bags in
appropriate location (refrigerator/freezer/room temperature) for a >24h
quarantine period.
e. Put empty “dirty” bags (the ones that were just delivered) aside for >24h.
Disinfect area they sat on during transfer. Wash hands.
f. Disinfect any door knobs, faucet handles, cabinets, refrigerator doors, trash lids,
or other areas you may have touched.
g. After 24h, all quarantined items and bags are deemed safe – sort and put things
away as normal. Be sure to wash and cook foods thoroughly as usual.
h. NOTE: if you have an especially vulnerable person in your household, you may
choose to avoid raw fruits and vegetables that won’t be cooked before eating.

  1. Restaurant food deliveries: (best cooked food only)
    a. Bring bags inside, set on an open washable surface (probably floor), and wash
    hands before continuing.
    b. Remove food containers from outer bag, and set on a clean, open, washable
    surface (probably the counter). Put outer bag in the trash, and wash hands
    before continuing.
    c. Get out clean containers (plates, bowls, Tupperware, etc) and a fork or spoon,
    and set on clean surface a bit away from the food containers.
    d. Designate a “clean” hand and a “dirty” hand. Use “dirty” hand to pick up the
    food container, and use the fork or spoon in the “clean” hand to scoop the food
    into your clean container. Throw the dirty container into the trash and wash
    e. Disinfect any door knobs, faucet handles, cabinets, refrigerator doors, trash lids,
    or other areas you may have touched.
    f. Disinfect all surfaces that the restaurant and food containers touched. Wash

  2. NOTE: this assumes 24h is sufficient for surface virus inactivation. You may choose to
    observe a longer quarantine period for plastics etc, especially if someone in your
    household is particularly vulnerable.
    Socialization & Activity Protocol: (summary: please just don’t)
    Don’t socialize or do anything that brings you into contact with other humans from outside
    your home if you can avoid it. If you must go out, follow the reentry protocol. Exceptions may
    be made for others who have FULLY self-quarantined for minimum 2 weeks without symptoms,
    but you must absolutely trust their adherence to protocol because you’re adding them to your
    quarantine bubble. Remember that people can be infectious/shed virus at least 24h before
    showing symptoms, and some (especially children and younger adults) may never show
    symptoms despite being infected.

  3. � Playdates: no. Children are much more likely to be asymptomatic virus spreaders,
    and can’t be trusted to follow proper infection protocols. Socialize via video chat.

  4. � Dining out: no. Get delivery of ingredients or COOKED foods if necessary, and follow
    delivery protocol above.

  5. � Dining with friends at their/your house: no. As stated above, interacting with friends
    means you’re adding them to your quarantine bubble. Only do this if they’ve fully self-
    quarantined for >2 weeks without symptoms, and you fully trust their quarantine
    measures as stated above.

  6. � Playgrounds/Parks: no. Children touch play structures with all their fluids, which may
    persist on metal and plastics for many days. Play structures are never washed (rain
    doesn’t count) so this is a high-risk behavior. Find other ways for children to have active
    play inside or in an isolated outdoor space.

  7. � Hikes and Nature: Yes! Don’t touch surfaces that others may have passed near or
    touched, and stay far away from others. Best practice is to select an outdoor space or
    hiking trail that is very low-traffic to avoid seeing any other humans. Fresh air and sun
    are good for the immune system, and a hike through an empty area is a great way to get
    outside safely. Re-entry protocol not required in most cases.

  8. � Your yard: Yes! Don’t touch surfaces that others may have passed near or touched
    (mailbox, walkway, doorbell) and stay far away from others. Fresh air and sun are good
    for the immune system, and a private yard is a great way to get outside safely. Re-entry
    protocol not required in most cases.

  9. Gyms: no. If you must, disinfect the equipment before use and make sure to stay as far
    away from others as possible – more than 6’ as people breathing heavily can spread
    droplets more widely. Tie hair out of face, don’t touch your face, and wash your hands
    frequently. Follow re-entry protocol upon return home.

  10. Dog walking: Yes! Like other hikes, select a low-traffic area to avoid seeing other
    humans, and don’t touch surfaces that others may have passed near or touched. Don’t
    pet other people’s dogs, as they may have droplets in their fur. Don’t allow your dog to
    socialize with other humans or their dogs, as this may transfer droplets to their fur, and
    require modification of the decontamination protocol for your dog. Skip this unless you
    really want to haul your dog into the shower with you for a shampoo.