In response to recent data and studies that show the risk of contracting COVID-19 via contact with surfaces is low, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is relaxing its exposure-prevention guidance on cleaning and disinfecting.

Cleaning and disinfecting has been a key element of CDC guidance during the pandemic. Now, in a science brief issued April 5 and based on available epidemiological data and studies of environmental transmission factors, the agency says, “The principal mode by which people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus. It is possible for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects (fomites), but the risk is generally considered to be low.”

The CDC adds: “Routine cleaning performed effectively with soap or detergent, at least once per day, can substantially reduce virus levels on surfaces. When focused on high-touch surfaces, cleaning with soap or detergent should be enough to further reduce the relatively low transmission risk from fomites in situations when there has not been a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 indoors. However, disinfection is still recommended in indoor work environments where a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 was present within the past 24 hours.”

The risk of transmission from surfaces can be reduced, according to CDC, by wearing masks consistently and correctly, practicing hand hygiene, cleaning, and taking other measures to maintain safe facilities.