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COVID-19 cleaning, disinfection and waste management

This information provides guidance on how to safely clean rooms in non-health accommodation and households where persons have either been in isolation following infection with COVID-19 or in quarantine because they have had a potential exposure to an infected person. This excludes hotel quarantine accommodation.

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 1094 kB)

For other work environments, please refer to Safe Work Australia for advice about cleaning.

Basic facts

  • The virus that causes COVID-19 is spread by respiratory droplets generated when people with
    COVID-19 infection cough and sneeze. The droplets can lead to infection in people who are
    in close contact. The droplets can also contaminate surfaces, where other people can pick
    the virus up.
  • The COVID-19 virus can live for several days on some surfaces, such as stainless steel
    and plastic, under certain conditions. Sunlight, humidity and temperature can influence how
    long the virus survives in the environment.
  • The virus can easily be destroyed through cleaning with a neutral detergent and a
    disinfectant (see Cleaning products section below).

Guidance for cleaning

  • Cleaners should not enter a room for cleaning while the person in isolation or quarantine is
    in the room.
  • Before entering the room for cleaning, cleaners should wait at least 60 minutes after the person in isolation or quarantine has left the room. This will ensure that any droplets have settled.
  • Where able, windows, curtains and doors to balconies should be opened during cleaning.
  • Any frequently handled items in the accommodation or household, such as remote controls, air conditioning controls, light switches, door handles and drawer/cupboard handles, need to be thoroughly and frequently (at least daily) cleaned using a physical wiping motion from the top down.
  • Soft furnishings, such as lounges, chairs and bedheads, should be vacuumed. If more intensive cleaning is required steam cleaning should be used.
  • All consumables, such as opened toilet rolls or tissue boxes, should be discarded unless they can be cleaned.
  • The room should be allowed to air dry before being used again.

Linen

  • Cleaners should always take care when handling used linen and wear personal protective equipment (PPE) – see below section PPE for cleaners. Linen does not require special laundering but should be washed at the hottest possible temperature.

Cleaning products

  • Cleaning of hard surfaces should be done using either:
    • a cleaning and disinfection procedure in two steps:
      first clean with a detergent, then follow with a disinfectant listed by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) with specific claims against COVID-19 or a 1:1,000PPM sodium hypochlorite solution.
    • a 2-in-1 step process:
      use a product that cleans and disinfects at the same time. Any hospital-grade TGA-listed disinfectant that has specific claims against COVID-19 is suitable if used according to manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Disinfectant solutions should be made fresh daily and gloves should be worn when handling and preparing solutions.
  • Cleaning equipment, including mop heads and cloths, should be laundered in hot water and completely dried before reuse. Cleaning buckets should be emptied and cleaned with a new batch of cleaning and/or disinfectant solution and allowed to dry completely before reuse.

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

Original strength of bleach (available chlorine) Disinfectant recipe to make up 1 litre of bleach solution. In a bucket, place the volume of water required and gently add the measured volume of bleach.
%Volume of bleach Volume of water
1 100ml 900ml
2 50ml 950ml
3 33ml 967ml
4 25ml 975ml
5 20ml 980ml

Personal protection for cleaning staff

  • Cleaners should wear the following PPE:
    • Face mask
    • Eye protection (goggles)
    • Single use gloves
    • Disposable plastic apron to avoid any contamination of clothes.
  • The purpose of PPE is to minimise direct contact with surfaces and to protect the eyes, nose and mouth from splashing and dust generated while cleaning as well as from any chemicals used in the cleaning process.

Tips for using PPE safely and effectively:

  • Wash your hands either with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
  • Once you have entered the guest room, don’t adjust your face mask or eye protection and avoid touching your face.
  • Your mask should be either on or off completely and not dangle from your neck. Ensure your mask always covers both your nose and mouth.
  • Ensure disposable PPE is immediately disposed of after use in a single use bag, tied securely and placed in the general waste.
  • Care should be taken when removing PPE as the outside may be contaminated:
    • Peel back your gloves first and ensure the outside of the gloves does not touch anything.
    • Wash or sanitise your hands.
    • Remove your apron next, ensuring you do not touch the front of your apron with your hands.
    • Wash or sanitise your hands.
    • Remove your eye protection (goggles), wipe over it with a 2-in-1 detergent/disinfectant wipe, place wipe in the bin, place eye protection (goggles) in a clean area to take with you.
    • Wash or sanitise your hands. Remove your face mask and dispose of it in general waste.
    • Wash or sanitise your hands.

Waste handling

  • Waste from a household where someone  has been in isolation following infection with COVID-19 or in quarantine 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 it away.
  • Personal waste, such as used tissues, packaging and masks, should be put securely inside disposable rubbish bags in the same room where the person in isolation or quarantine is staying.
  • 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 waste (not recycling or green bins) for your normal waste pick-up.
  • Waste 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 and help make cleaning and sanitising the bin easier.
  • It is important to always wash your hands well and dispose of any personal protective equipment after handling waste.
Last updated: 6 August 2021