Nail salons should follow standard cleaning and disinfecting practices as prescribed by their state Board of Cosmetology, health department, and/or local ordinances to prevent infectious diseases spreading in the salon such as blood-borne pathogens, bacteria, fungal infection.  During COVID-19 crisis, nail salons are recommended have an enhanced cleaning and disinfecting protocol to reduce the spread of this highly contagious virus.  However, cleaning and disinfecting products can contain harmful chemicals, it is important to follow safe practices for cleaning and disinfecting to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while minimizing exposure to chemicals.  The U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) provides guidance to businesses on how to clean and disinfect workplaces to prevent COVID-19 which is the primary source of information in this website.

What is the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?  

Cleaning: the process of using soap/detergent, water, and friction to physically remove germs and dirt from surfaces or objects. Soap inactivates coronaviruses by dissolving the fatty membrane that envelops the viruses and allows it to stick to our cells.  It is also less toxic to the environment and health.

Disinfecting: the process of using EPA-registered disinfectants to kill germs on surfaces.  This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces.  Cleaning should be done before disinfecting because the dirt particles can reduce effectiveness of the disinfectant chemicals.  

Why choose safer cleaning products?

Many cleaning and disinfecting projects have harmful chemicals that can make people sick. High exposure to these chemicals over a long period time may cause asthma, reproductive health, damage to skin and other body systems.

What should I consider when buying cleaning products?

  • Safer choice logo:  Look for Safer Choice, Green Seal, Ecologo, or Design for the Environment (DfE) labels on the products. These labels certify that these products have safer chemicals and strict requirements being better for the environment and human health.


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  • Less toxic ingredients: If these logos are not on the products, choose products that have less toxic chemicals in their ingredients list:  ethanol, isopropanol, hydrogen peroxide, L-lactic acid or citric acid.   Avoid using chlorine bleach or quaternary ammonium chloride compounds, which have been linked to these adverse human health effects.

  • Short contact time:  After you spray the disinfectants or wipe the disinfectant on the surface, you need to leave the product on the surface for a specified time in order for it to work on killing the germs.  This time is called contact time.  The manufacturer’s instructions will print this information on the label.  Contact time can range from 1 to 10 minutes.  Choose products with less contact time will reduce waiting time between customers.

  • Use the right product for the surface: Products that work on fabric may not work on stainless steel. Some need to be diluted. Read the manufacturer instructions.

  • Use EPA-registered products. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved a list of disinfectants for use against COVID-19 here.  The Responsible Purchasing Network has created a list of EPA’s List N that are safer choice approved here.


A few important reminders about coronaviruses and cleaning and disinfection

  • When an infected person coughs or talks, infectious droplets may land on surfaces and the virus can remain viable on surfaces for hours to days.  

  • Normal routine cleaning with soap/dish detergent and water removes most germs and dirt from surfaces. It lowers the risk of spreading COVID-19 infection.

  • Be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions on label for storage and use.   Do not mix bleach or cleaning products together – this can cause toxic fumes that are very dangerous to breath in.  Keep all disinfectants out of reach of children

  • Do not overuse disinfectants. 

  • Wear gloves when cleaning and disinfecting. 

  • Ventilate the salon well by opening doors and/or having the ventilation system run continuously through out the day.

  • Use accepted best practices such as perform restroom cleaning from high to low, toward the doorway, and with dry cleaning tasks performed prior to wet cleaning tasks.


Each salon should have a written cleaning and disinfection plan that determines what surfaces or areas that need to be cleaned (with soap and water) or disinfected.  Most areas and objects that are not frequently visited or touched will just clean normal cleaning.  Frequently touched surfaces and objects like doorknobs, sinks will be to be cleaned and disinfected to further reduce risk of germs. 

The CDC publishes guidance for cleaning and disinfection to prevent COVID-19 in the workplaces that can be applicable to nail salons. 

  • Enhanced cleaning and disinfection for prevention

  • Enhanced cleaning and infection after a notification of persons suspected/confirmed to have COVID-19 have been in the salon


  • General guidance

    • Increase frequency of cleaning an disinfection of areas that are frequently touched by employees and customers such as doorknob, handwashing station, manicure an pedicure stations, customers chair, front desk, waiting area, bathrooms.

    • Full communicate and train salon employees of cleaning and disinfecting protocol

    • Consider using a checklist to write out areas needing cleaning and persons responsible for cleaning

    • Ensure staff have adequate time to clean and disinfect between clients

    • Obtain feedback from employee about salon protocols and revise accordingly.

    • Practice good hygiene after cleaning

      • Wash hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds

      • If soap and water not available, use hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol)

        • Additional key times to clean hands include:

  • After blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing

  • After using the restroom

  • Before eating or preparing food

  • After contact with animals or pets

  • Before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance (e.g. a child)

  • Safety guidelines

    • Wear disposable gloves when cleaning and disinfecting. Discard gloves after each use. 

    • Wear eye protection to prevent potential splash

    • Use less toxic cleaning products

    • Store cleaning products in a safe place.


How to clean and disinfect

Hard (Non-porous) Surfaces

  • If surfaces are dirty, they should be cleaned using a detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

  • For disinfection, most common EPA-registered household disinfectants should be effective.

  • A list of products that are EPA-approved for use against the virus that causes COVID-19 is available . Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products for concentration, application method and contact time, etc.

  • If less hazardous disinfectant products are not available, diluted household bleach solutions can be used if appropriate for the surface. Follow manufacturer’s instructions for application, ensuring a contact time of at least 1 minute, and allowing proper ventilation during and after application. Check to ensure the product is not past its expiration date. Never mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleanser. Unexpired household bleach will be effective against coronaviruses when properly diluted. Bleach solutions will be effective for disinfection up to 24 hours.

    • Prepare a bleach solution by mixing:

      • 5 tablespoons (1/3 cup) bleach per gallon of water or

      • 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water


 Soft (Porous) Surfaces such as carpeted floor, rugs, drapes, clothes, and towels

  • Remove visible contamination if present and clean with appropriate cleaners indicated for use on these surfaces. After cleaning:

  • If the items can be laundered, launder items in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and then dry items completely.

  • If laundering is not possible, use EPA-approved products that are suitable for porous surfaces



  • For electronics such as tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and ATM machines, remove visible contamination if present.

  • Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for all cleaning and disinfection products.

  • Consider use of wipeable covers for electronics.

  • If no manufacturer guidance is available, consider the use of alcohol-based wipes or sprays containing at least 70% alcohol to disinfect touch screens. Dry surfaces thoroughly to avoid pooling of liquids.


Linens, Clothing, and Other Items That Go in the Laundry

  • In order to minimize the possibility of dispersing virus through the air, do not shake dirty laundry.

  • Wash items as appropriate in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. If possible, launder items using the warmest appropriate water setting for the items and dry items completely. Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an ill person can be washed with other people’s items.

  • Clean and disinfect hampers or other carts for transporting laundry according to guidance above for hard or soft surfaces.


  • Temporarily close the salon and wait 24 hours or as long as practical before beginning cleaning and disinfection.

  • Cleaning staff should follow the enhanced cleaning and disinfection for prevention protocol

  • Open doors and windows to the outside to increase air circulation

  • Cleaning staff should clean and disinfect all areas such as offices, bathrooms, common areas, shared electronic equipment (like tablets, touch screens, keyboards, remote controls, and ATM machines) used by the ill persons, focusing especially on frequently touched surfaces.

  • Wear personal protective equipment such as gloves, safety glasses during cleaning and disinfection.


CDC resources for businesses and workplaces

CDC Cleaning and disinfection for community facilities

CDC Guidance for cleaning and disinfecting: public spaces, workplaces, businesses, schools, and homes 

U.S. EPA List of Disinfectants for use against COVID-19

EPA safer choice

EPA Design for the Environment Logo for Antimicrobial Pesticide Products

General Business Frequently Asked Questions

Safer cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting strategies factsheet (University of Washington)

Safer disinfectants on EPA’s List of recommended antimicrobial products for use against novel human corona virus

Enhanced cleaning and infecting protocols

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