EXCELLENCE IN HSE COMPLIANCE
COVID-19: Cleaning in Non-Healthcare Settings
What you need to know:
Experience of new coronaviruses (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) has been used to inform this guidance.
The risk of infection depends on many factors, including:
• the type of surfaces contaminated
• the amount of virus shed from the individual
• the time the individual spent in the setting
• the time since the individual was last in the setting
The infection risk from coronavirus (COVID-19) following contamination of the environment decreases over time. It is not yet clear at what point there is no risk. However, studies of other viruses in the same family suggest that, in most circumstances, the risk is likely to be reduced significantly after 72 hours.
Principles of cleaning after the case has left the setting or area
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
The minimum PPE to be worn for cleaning an area where a person with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) is disposable gloves and an apron. Hands should be washed with soap and water for 20 seconds after all PPE has been removed.
If a risk assessment of the setting indicates that a higher level of virus may be present (for example, where unwell individuals have slept such as a hotel room or boarding school dormitory) or there is visible contamination with body fluids, then the need for additional PPE to protect the cleaner’s eyes, mouth and nose might be necessary. The local Public Health England (PHE) Health Protection Team (HPT) can advise on this.
Cleaning and Disinfection
Public areas where a symptomatic individual has passed through and spent minimal time, such as corridors, but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids can be cleaned thoroughly as normal.
All surfaces that the symptomatic person has come into contact with must be cleaned and disinfected, including:
When items cannot be cleaned using detergents or laundered, for example, upholstered furniture and mattresses, steam cleaning should be used.
Any items that are heavily contaminated with body fluids and cannot be cleaned by washing should be disposed of.
If possible keep an area closed off and secure for 72 hours. After this time the amount of virus contamination will have decreased substantially and you can clean as normal with your usual products.
Wash items in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest water setting and dry items completely. Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an unwell person can be washed with other people’s items.
Do not shake dirty laundry, this minimises the possibility of dispersing virus through the air. Clean and disinfect anything used for transporting laundry with your usual products, in line with the cleaning guidance above.
Waste from possible cases and cleaning of areas where possible cases have been (including disposable cloths and tissues):
• if the individual tests negative, this can be put in with the normal waste
• if the individual tests positive, then store it for at least 72 hours and put in with the normal waste
If storage for at least 72 hours is not appropriate, arrange for collection as a Category B infectious waste either by your local waste collection authority if they currently collect your waste or otherwise by a specialist clinical waste contractor. They will supply you with orange clinical waste bags for you to place your bags into so the waste can be sent for appropriate treatment.