Cleaning following a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19

Guidance on cleaning a room that has been used by a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case, including cleaning products and the personal protective equipment that may be required.

Last updated: 7 August 2020

This information can be used to guide the cleaning of hostel/institution rooms and hotel rooms where a confirmed or probable COVID-19 case has stayed. It can also be used by other accommodation providers or in any other public place.

The Infection Prevention and Control nurse at the local district health board/public health unit can provide further guidance if required.

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General principles

  • Good hand hygiene is essential to minimise transmission of infectious droplets to yourself, others, and other surfaces.
  • Hands should be thoroughly washed with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, making sure you dry them thoroughly. If soap and water are not available and your hands are not visibly dirty, use hand sanitiser (containing at least 60 percent alcohol). Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching the face (eyes, nose or mouth) to reduce the likelihood of transmitting the virus from contaminated surfaces or items.
  • Always wear disposable gloves when cleaning. When finished, place used gloves in a rubbish bin, then wash your hands immediately.

When cleaning, remember the following two principles.

1. Top to bottom

  • Start cleaning surfaces higher up and work your way to the floor. This method ensures that any particulates or debris fall to the floor which will be cleaned last.

2. Clean to dirty

  • Start by cleaning surfaces and objects that are cleaner and work your way to cleaning dirtier items (eg, toilets).
  • Avoid going from an area that has not been cleaned to an area that has been cleaned. This avoids dirtying the cleaned area and will ensure you aren’t cross-contaminating items or surfaces.

Cleaning products

Coronaviruses can survive on surfaces for many hours but are readily inactivated by cleaning and disinfection. Any hospital grade detergent/disinfectant products are suitable for cleaning following a confirmed or probable case of COVID-19.

Always follow the directions on the label. The label will include safety information and instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product, including precautions you should take when applying it. Specific personal protective equipment (PPE) and dwell time (how long the cleaning product should remain wet on the surface before drying) should be included in product instructions.

Recommended cleaning product should be a 2-in-1 product (containing both cleaning and disinfectant properties) to increase efficiency. Keep the windows open for ventilation if possible.

Personal protective equipment (PPE) requirements, including order for putting on and removing PPE

Order for putting on PPE

Perform hand hygiene then:

  1. put on gown or apron
  2. put on mask
  3. put on protective eyewear (if the cleaning product manufacturer recommends eye protection, wear a face shield or goggles. Note that prescription eyeglasses are not classed as eye protection)
  4. put on gloves (these can include heavy-duty household gloves).

Order for removing PPE

  1. Remove gloves.
  2. Perform hand hygiene.
  3. Remove gown.
  4. Perform hand hygiene.
  5. Remove protective eyewear (if worn and separate from mask).
  6. Perform hand hygiene.
  7. Remove mask.
  8. Perform hand hygiene.

Cleaning order

Gather the items needed for cleaning before entering the area and cleaning begins, including:

  • personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • cleaning equipment and solutions
  • rubbish waste bag.

After putting on PPE, enter the area and commence cleaning.

  1. Remove all linen (bedding, towels, cushion covers and other fabrics) for washing and put in plastic bag (or non-porous container with lid) for transport to laundry room. Use a washing machine and detergent to wash thoroughly with the warmest temperature recommended on the item’s label, and dry thoroughly.
  2. Remove all linen (bedding, towels, cushion covers and other fabrics) for washing and put in plastic bag (or non-porous container with lid) for transport to laundry room. Use a washing machine and detergent to wash thoroughly with the warmest temperature recommended on the item’s label. If you use a commercial company to undertake your laundry, follow the companies process for soiled contaminated laundry.
  3. Remove all table-top appliances, crockery and cutlery and place in non-porous, covered container for transport to dishwasher/kitchen. Clean all table-top appliances (eg, kettle) according to instructions. Clean all household items, such as dishes, cups, eating utensils thoroughly, preferably in a commercial dishwasher.
  4. Clean inside and outside of all large kitchen appliances (eg, refrigerator, oven)
  5. Clean all ‘high-touch’ surfaces, such as counters, cupboards, tabletops, doorknobs, and light switches.
  6. Clean bathroom fixtures, showers and toilets with a separate set of cleaning equipment (disposable cleaning cloths, etc) using disinfectant or bleach solution. Toilets should be the last item in bathroom to clean.
  7. Remove and dispose of gloves, wash hands with soap and water and dry thoroughly with clean towel or paper towel then put on clean gloves
  8. Vacuum the carpet. Steam cleaning of carpets and rugs is not required.
  9. For hard floor surfaces, clean the floor with the prepared disinfectant or bleach solution, starting from one end of the premises to another (from the far side of the room working your way to the exit/door).
  10. At the end of cleaning, remove all used gowns, facemasks, gloves and other contaminated items and place in a lined container before disposing of them with other household/general waste. Wash your hands immediately after handling these items.
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