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Cleaning after a COVID-19 case

The Chief Health Officer (CHO) has placed requirements on the operation of businesses and organisations to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 being transmitted. These requirements are specified in CHO Directions 35 – Directions for Safety Measures for Places, Businesses, Activities, Services and Premises. (The Directions).

COVID-19 is spread from person-to-person through close contact and droplets including:

  • Direct contact with infected persons
  • Contact with droplets from an infected person
  • Touching contaminated objects or surfaces (like doorknobs or tables) and then touching your mouth, eyes or nose.

The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 is through maintaining good hygiene practices, following physical distancing principles and other safety measures as specified.

Cleaning Procedures

You should have procedures in place to manage cleaning and disinfection in the event that a person with COVID-19 is confirmed to have visited your premises. Industry specific cleaning advice is available from Safe Work Australia website.

You should consider the following:

  • Allocation of personnel responsible for overseeing the cleaning and disinfection process.
  • Types of cleaning agents, disinfectants, tools and equipment that will be utilised.
  • Validated method of disinfection.
  • Processes for ensuring cleaning equipment is clean.
  • Storage and accessibility of cleaning equipment.
  • Availability of personal protective equipment (PPE).
  • Education and training of cleaning personnel that should include the following:
    • knowledge of appropriate cleaning products and chemicals including safe handling
    • waste and laundry management
    • hand hygiene
    • how to safely put on and remove PPE.

Cleaning after 72 hours

If more than 72 hours have passed since the person who is diagnosed with COVID-19 has been on site no additional cleaning and disinfecting is required beyond your regular cleaning regime as detailed in your business’s COVID-19 Safety Plan.

For more information

  • Contact Environmental Health COVID-19 Compliance on 1800 095 646
  • Safe Work Australia – COVID-19 information for workplaces website
  • Training for cleaners

    Cleaning personnel should be trained in the proper use of cleaning and disinfecting products. They should also be trained in basic infection control including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

    Australian Government infection control course

    The importance of cleaning AND disinfection

    Disinfectants may be inactivated by the presence of organic matter therefore physical cleaning must be undertaken prior to the application of a chemical disinfectant.

    Cleaning refers to the mechanical action, using a detergent and warm water to remove dirt.

    Disinfection is the use of chemicals to kill germs. It is important to remember to clean with detergent before a disinfectant is used.

    Use of personal protective equipment (PPE) when cleaning

    The risk of acquiring COVID-19 when cleaning is not as great as the risk when face to face with a person who has COVID 19.

    Avoid touching your face, especially your mouth, nose, eyes and the PPE, i.e. mask and eyewear, whilst cleaning.

    Recommended personal protective equipment (PPE):

    • Mask and eye protection such as protective goggles or a face-shield. These act to prevent you inadvertently touching your face with contaminated hands and fingers, whether gloved or not. Prescription glasses are not protective.
    • Disposable gloves.
    • Plastic apron or a disposable gown should be worn to protect clothing from damage by the cleaning and disinfectant solutions.

    Perform hand hygiene before using and after removal of PPE.

    PPE should be removed and discarded into the appropriate waste stream before going on breaks and on completion of job.

    Prepare for cleaning

    Equipment: Gather cleaning equipment, disinfectant solution and plastic waste bags. Consider signage to prevent unauthorised persons from entering the cleaning area.

    Personal: Wash or sanitise your hands, prior to applying PPE.

    Prepare the area: Increase ventilation by opening doors and windows.

    Prepare the detergent and the disinfectant solution:

    • Follow manufacturer’s instructions for correct dilution and use.
    • Wear gloves and eye protection when handling.
    • Solutions should be made up as they are needed. Pre-diluted bleach solutions lose potency over time and on exposure to sun-light and as such need to be made up fresh daily.
    • Only use bleach on non-porous surfaces as it may damage other surfaces.

    Clean and disinfect

    Thoroughly clean surfaces using detergent and water.

    Apply disinfectant to surfaces using disposable paper towel or a disposable cloth. If non-disposable cloths are used, ensure these are laundered and dried before reusing.

    Extra attention should be taken to cleaning high-touch surfaces, including door handles, handrails, light switches, computers and other share equipment.

    Ensure surfaces remain wet for the period of time required to kill the virus (this is known as contact time) as specified by the manufacturer. If no time is specified, leave on the surface for 10 minutes.

    Wipe disinfectant off surfaces to prevent damage.

    Remove and discard gloves. If gloves are reusable, wash with soap and water after use and leave to dry. Wash hands with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub immediately after removing gloves.

    2-in-1 products combine a detergent and TGA listed hospital grade disinfectant product with activity against viruses. These may be used as long as the manufacturer’s instructions are followed regarding dilution, use and contact times for disinfection (that is, how long the product must remain on the surface to ensure disinfection takes place).

  • Disinfectants containing ≥ 70% alcohol, quaternary ammonium compounds such as benzalkonium chloride or diluted household bleach including products containing sodium hypochlorite are suitable.

    If purchasing any product from a supplier always ask for a material safety data sheet (MSDS). If the product is purchased in store, carefully read the instructions on the label, follow the application and the safety instructions.

    Disinfectants that may be used for COVID-19 can be found in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG)

    The most readily available disinfectants are chlorine-based products (household bleach). To achieve the correct dilution, follow the manufacturer’s instructions or use the below chlorine dilutions calculator to achieve a 1000 parts per million (ppm) dilution.

    Once diluted, bleach solutions lose potency over time and on exposure to sun-light and so must be made up prior to use.

    Chlorine dilutions calculator

    Household bleach comes in a variety of strengths. The concentration of the active ingredient — hypochlorous acid — can be found on the product label.

    Table 1. Recipes to achieve a 1000 ppm (0.1%) bleach solution

    Original strength of bleachDisinfectant recipeVolume in standard 10L bucket
    %Parts per millionParts of bleachParts of water 
    1 10,000 1 9 1000 mL
    2 20,000 1 19 500 mL
    3 30,000 1 29 333 mL
    4 40,000 1 39 250 mL
    5 50,000 1 49 200 mL
  • Soft furnishings or fabric covered items, for example, fabric covered chairs or car seats, that cannot be wiped clean or washed in a washing machine should be steam cleaned.

  • If there are items that can be laundered, such as towels, linen, mop heads, reusable cleaning cloths and toys launder them in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions using the hottest setting possible. Dry items completely.

    Wash crockery and cutlery in a dishwasher on the hottest setting possible. If a dishwasher is not available, hand wash with hot soapy water and allow to air dry.

  • For electronic equipment follow the manufacturer’s instructions for cleaning and disinfection products.

    If no manufacturer guidance is available, consider the use of disinfectant wipes or alcohol-based wipes containing at least 70% alcohol.

  • Following a confirmed COVID-19 case at a workplace or facility, any waste generated by cleaning processes including PPE should be placed in a plastic bag and sealed before being disposed of as general waste.