COVID-19: Cleaning following a suspected, probable or confirmed case of COVID-19

This page was last updated 15 May 2020.

This information provides guidance on cleaning a room that has been used by a suspected, probable or confirmed COVID-19 case. It can be used to guide the cleaning of hostel/institution rooms and hotel rooms where a suspected, probable or confirmed COVID-19 case has stayed. It can also be used by 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.

Find information on general cleaning for businesses and education centres.

General Principles

Good hand hygiene is essential to minimise transmission of infectious droplets.

Always wear disposable gloves when cleaning. When finished, place used gloves in a rubbish bin. Wash your hands immediately after handling these items.

Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, making sure you dry them thoroughly. You can also use hand sanitiser (containing at least 60 percent alcohol) if soap and water are not available and if your hands are not visibly dirty. If using hand sanitiser, cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

When cleaning thoroughly and efficiently it is good to remember two general principles.

  • 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.
  • 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  

Prior to cleaning

Personal protective equipment (PPE): wear a disposable facemask, gown and gloves when cleaning. If the cleaning product manufacturer recommends eye protection, wear a face shield or goggles.

Order for putting on PPE:

  1. hand hygiene
  2. gown
  3. mask
  4. protective eyewear
  5. gloves (these can include heavy duty household gloves).

Any hospital grade detergent/disinfectant products are suitable for cleaning following a suspected, probable or confirmed case of COVID-19. Read label of cleaning products and follow recommendations provided on product labels. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product, including precautions you should take when applying it. Specific 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.

Cleaning order

  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.
  2. 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.
  3. Clean inside and outside of all built-in appliances (eg, refrigerator, oven)
  4. Clean all ‘high-touch’ surfaces, such as counters, cupboards, table tops, doorknobs, light switches and window blinds.
  5. Spot-clean any marks on soft furnishings.
  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 last item in bathroom to clean.
  7. Remove gloves, wash hands with soap and water and dry thoroughly with clean towel or paper towel.
  8. Remove gloves, wash hands and put on clean gloves.
  9. Vacuum the carpet. Steam cleaning of carpets and rugs is not required.
  10. 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).
  11. At the end of cleaning, remove all used gowns, facemasks, gloves and other contaminated items in a lined container before disposing of them with other household/general waste. Wash your hands immediately after handling these items.

Order for removing PPE:

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

Download this page as a factsheet

Back to top