COVID-19 cleaning, disinfection and waste recommendations

This fact sheet provides recommendations for cleaning, disinfection and removal of waste from the environment where people suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19 infection may have been.

For acute healthcare settings and residential care facilities, please refer to the Queensland Health's Interim infection prevention and control guidelines for the management of COVID-19 in healthcare settings (PDF).

Recommended cleaning process

Gather the items needed for cleaning before entering the area and cleaning begins. This may include the following:

  • personal protective equipment (PPE)

  • cleaning equipment and solutions

  • rubbish waste bag

  • alcohol-based hand rub (containing at least 60% alcohol).

Personal protective equipment recommendations

People entering the room and the person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 should wear a surgical mask if the person with COVID-19 remains in the room while the cleaning is done.

People should use the following process to safely put on the recommended personal protective equipment before entering the area:

  • Clean your hands. This can be done with either  liquid soap and running water or alcohol- based hand rub.

  • Put on a disposable apron. Fasten the back of  the apron at the neck and waist.

  • If the person with suspected or confirmed  COVID-19 is in the area to be cleaned put on a surgical mask. Secure the ties  of the mask at the middle of the head and neck. Fit the flexible band to nose  bridge and ensure mask is fitted snug to face and below the chin. Do not touch  or adjust the mask until you are ready to remove the mask.

  • Put on protective eyewear to protect your eyes  from the cleaning fluids.

  • Put on disposable latex or vinyl gloves.

The purpose of personal protective equipment is to reduce the risk of direct contact with contaminated surfaces.

People should use the following process to safely remove personal protective equipment:

  • Remove and dispose of gloves. The outside of the gloves are considered to be contaminated. Remove gloves being careful not to contaminate bare  hands during glove removal.

  • Clean your hands. This can be done with either liquid soap and running water or alcohol-based hand rub.

  • Remove and dispose of apron. The apron front is considered to be contaminated. Untie or break fasteners and pull apron away from body, touching  the inside of the apron only.

  • Clean your hands. This can be done with either  liquid soap and running water or alcohol-based hand rub.

  • Remove protective eyewear/face shield. The  outside of protective eyewear/face shields is considered to be contaminated. Remove  eyewear/face shield by tilting the head forward and lifting the head band or  ear pieces. Avoid touching the front surface of the eyewear/face shield.  Reusable protective eyewear should be placed into a container and washed in  detergent and water and allowed to completely air dry.

  • Clean your hands. This can be done with either  liquid soap and running water or alcohol-based hand rub.

  • Remove and dispose of surgical mask if worn. Do  not touch the front of the surgical mask. Remove the surgical mask by holding  the elastic straps or ties and remove without touching the front.

  • Clean your hands. This can be done with either  liquid soap and running water or alcohol-based hand rub.

  • Personal protective equipment can be disposed  into general waste.

  • Once you enter the area, avoid touching your  face and don’t touch or adjust your face mask if one is worn.

  • If wearing a mask, it should be either on or  off – ensure it always covers both the nose and mouth and don’t let it dangle  from the neck.

Cleaning recommendations

Once the person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 vacates a room, cleaning can commence immediately. The room and all hard surfaces in the room should be physically cleaned. All furniture, equipment, horizontal surfaces and all frequently touched surfaces (e.g. door handles) should be thoroughly cleaned.

When items cannot be cleaned using detergents or laundered, for example, upholstered furniture and mattresses, steam cleaning should be used.

Cleaning of hard surfaces (e.g. bench tops) should be done using either:

  • a physical clean using a combined detergent and  1,000ppm bleach solution (2-in-1 clean) made up daily from a concentrated  solution. Follow manufacturer’s directions for dilution.

  • a physical clean using detergent and water  followed by a clean with 1,000ppm bleach solution (2-step clean), for example,  household bleach or hospital-grade bleach solutions that are readily available  from retail stores. Read the product label and follow the manufacturer’s directions for use or see Table 1  below for a typical dilution recipe.

Bleach solutions should be made fresh daily and gloves should be worn when handling and preparing bleach solutions. Protective eyewear should be worn in case of splashing.

Once cleaning is completed, place all disposable cleaning items in the rubbish waste bag. Waste does not need any additional handling or treatment measures.

Cleaning equipment including mop heads and cloths should be laundered using hot water and detergent and completely dried before re-use. Cleaning equipment, such as buckets, should be emptied and cleaned with a new batch of chlorine bleach solution and allowed to dry completely before re-use.

Preparation of bleach solutions

Household bleach comes in a variety of strengths of the active ingredient (sodium hypochlorite) and you can find this information on the product label often listed as available chlorine.

Table 1. Recipes to achieve a 1,000ppm bleach solution

Waste Handling

Waste from a household, or waste from a hotel or motel where someone with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 is living or staying, is not regulated as medical waste under the Queensland Environmental Protection (Waste Management) Regulation 2000. However, it is still important that waste from these places is handled with caution before throwing away.

Personal waste, such as used tissues, packaging, masks and disposable cleaning supplies should be put securely inside disposable rubbish bags in the same room as the person suspected or confirmed to have COVID-19.

When dealing with waste, avoid touching the inside of the bag. Make sure the rubbish bag is not completely full, so the contents don’t overflow and use two bags if the contents are wet in case it leaks.

This waste can be put with other general rubbish (not recycling or green bins) for your normal rubbish pick-up.

Rubbish bins inside the house should be kept clean and disinfected regularly. If a pedal bin or plastic bucket is used, it is a good idea to use a bin liner. Bin liners stop the bin from getting dirty, help with taking the rubbish out and also help with cleaning and sanitising the bin.

It is important to always wash your hands well and dispose of any personal protective equipment after handling waste.