Cleaning and disinfecting tools | 4 tips for keeping your job site safe during the COVID-19 outbreak

This article was written in partnership with Milwaukee Tool. 


When it comes to keeping your crew and job site safe, the proper cleaning and disinfecting of tools can stop the spread of contagious pathogens and help keep your team healthy. 

We’ve partnered with Milwaukee Tool to provide 4 tips for properly cleaning and sanitizing job site tools and keeping your crew safe amid the ongoing COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. 

Note: Per guidelines from the CDC, if any blood is on the surface of your products, advanced cleaning is needed. Under OSHA requirements, anyone who performs this type of cleaning should be trained in bloodborne pathogens and should have proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to complete the cleanup. All guidelines in the article below pertain to the cleaning of tools where no blood is present. 

For all your specific tools and other job site products, always follow manufacturer guidelines for handling and cleaning. 


Keep personal responsibility and proper training top of mind 

Before and after handling tools, crew members should wash their hands with soap for a minimum of 20 seconds and follow CDC guidelines on proper handwashing techniques. If hand-washing stations are not available at your job site, hand sanitizers with a minimum of 60% alcohol content should be used before and after handling tools. 

You should also make sure your team is trained in how to safely use tools while wearing any necessary PPE and while following social distancing guidelines whenever possible. Review CDC guidelines for best practices on self-protection during the COVID-19 outbreak. 


Avoid using conductive, flammable or corrosive materials in cleaning 

Avoid using cleaning materials that may degrade the surface of your tools or pose a safety hazard for your team. Example of these products include: 

  • Products containing ammonia 
  • Gasoline 
  • Turpentine 
  • Lacquer thinner 
  • Paint thinner 
  • Chlorinated cleaning solvents 
  • Flammable or combustible solvents 


Use a dilute bleach solution to disinfect tools 

Products without batteries, or with removable batteries, can be cleaned with mild soap and a damp cloth and then disinfected with a diluted bleach solution, which is consistent with CDC advice 

Procedure for cleaning with a dilute bleach solution: 

  • If the tool you are cleaning has a removable battery, make sure to remove prior to cleaning. If the battery is non-removable, see instructions in the next section 
  • Make your solution by mixing 1/3 cup of bleach per gallon of water, or 4 tsp of bleach per quart of water 
  • Clean the product’s surface with soap and a damp cloth to remove dirt and grime 
  • Dip a second, clean cloth in your bleach solution then wring the cloth out so it isn’t dripping wet 
  • Using that cloth, gently wipe each handle, grasping surfaces and other outer surfaces using care to ensure liquids do not flow into the tool 
  • Do not use any other cleaning material – the diluted bleach should not be mixed with ammonia or any other cleanser 
  • Allow the surface to dry naturally 
  • Immediately wash hands after the cleaning is complete and avoid touching face or other surfaces with unwashed hands 
  • Once the tool is dry, it can be used again. Batteries can also be reinserted into the tool once dry (see below for instructions on cleaning battery packs) 


Cleaning for battery packs and tools with non-removable batteries 

For products with batteries that cannot be removed, as well as for battery packs which have been removed from other tools, it is not recommended to use a bleach solution. For these products, you can clean using the following steps: 

  • Use a mild soap and damp cloth to remove all dirt and grime from the tool or battery’s surface, 
  • Leave to rest for a minimum of three days per the CDC’s advisement that the virus may live for up to 72 hours on plastic surfaces 
  • After this waiting period tools may be used again, and batteries may be reinserted