Hygiene and cleaning for the health workforce during COVID-19
To protect yourself and your patients, from coronavirus (COVID-19) it is important to maintain good hygiene and a clean workplace. Follow the guidelines for personal hygiene, routine cleaning, disinfecting, terminal cleaning, and protective gear.
To protect yourself and prevent the spread of COVID-19, you should:
Also view our information on personal protective equipment (PPE) for the health workforce.
Cleaning in the workplace
Communal areas for staff and the public
Routinely clean surfaces in these areas.
These areas include staff dining rooms, cafes, retail outlets, and staff meeting rooms.
Health care settings
In patient areas, including consulting rooms:
- clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces between each episode of patient care
- take special care with surfaces that patients have touched directly or that have been exposed to respiratory droplets
- take the 5 moments for hand hygiene approach
For inpatient care:
- routinely clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces at least daily
- clean and disinfect more often in high intensity or high traffic areas, such as ICU or outpatient areas
- clean and disinfect equipment after each use
- clean and disinfect surfaces that have been exposed to respiratory droplets between episode of patient care
If an area is very contaminated, you may need to conduct a terminal clean.
Patient transport vehicles
Set the air conditioning to fresh air. Do not recirculate air in the vehicle. Routinely clean the surfaces.
Frequently touched surfaces
Frequently touched surfaces include door handles, bedrails, tabletops and light switches.
Clean these surfaces frequently (at least daily) or when visibly dirty. Use detergent solution or combined detergent and disinfectant solution or wipes. Follow the instructions on the label.
Minimally touched surfaces
Minimally touched surfaces include floors, ceilings, walls, window curtains and blinds.
Clean these surfaces when visibly dusty or dirty and straight after any spills. Use:
- detergent solution or wipes for general surfaces and non-patient care areas
- detergent solution to damp mop instead of dry mopping
You should also:
- regularly change window curtains
- regularly clean sinks and basins
Follow the instructions on the label when using cleaning products.
Disinfect surfaces after cleaning. Disinfectant does not work as well on soiled or dirty surfaces.
Use a ready-made disinfectant that claims to kill viruses, or prepare a chlorine-based (bleach) disinfectant. Always follow the instructions on the label.
While bleach (chlorine) solutions are effective, handling bleach can be dangerous. Consider using a safer alternative if possible.
If you decide to use bleach solution:
- follow the instructions on the label
- work in a well-ventilated area
- do not use it with other products such as toilet bowl cleaners, acids (including vinegar) or anything containing ammonia
- wear gloves when handling or preparing the solution
- use protective eye wear to protect against splashes
- make up the solution daily
- use it mainly on hard, non-porous surfaces — it can damage textiles and metals
- use a disposable paper towel or cloth to wipe the surface with the bleach solution
For full instructions, read our COVID-19 environmental cleaning and disinfection principles fact sheet.
For more information about disinfectants and bleach, read:
- appropriate use of disinfectants: information for consumers, health professionals and healthcare facilities — Therapeutic Goods Administration
- chlorine use in infection control — Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- chlorine — National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
- chlorine bleach safety — North Dakota State University
- working with household (chlorine) bleach — Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
Protect yourself when cleaning or disinfecting
To minimise the risk of getting coronavirus, you should:
- practise good hygiene
- wear disposable impermeable gloves, a surgical mask, and eye protection or a face shield
- wash hands with water and soap (use alcohol-based hand sanitiser if soap is not available) before and after wearing protective gear
- dispose of gloves and masks in a leak-proof plastic bag
If you can see respiratory secretions or other bodily fluid on surfaces, wear a full-length disposable gown as well.
If a confirmed case or a person in isolation is in a room you need to clean, ask them to put on a surgical mask.
Get advice from your work health and safety representative about wearing protective gear correctly. View our information on PPE for the health workforce.
Terminal cleaning is a procedure to decontaminate an area after discharge or transfer of a patient with an infectious disease. Terminal cleaning includes thorough cleaning and disinfection.
To carry out terminal cleaning:
- remove medical equipment and items used by the patient
- wear PPE — a surgical mask, protective eyewear, gloves and a gown
- change bed screens and curtains, including disposable curtains or screens, that are soiled or contaminated
- damp dust all surfaces, furniture and fittings
- clean windows, sills and frames
- clean all surfaces of bed and mattress
- mop the floor
- remove PPE and perform hand hygiene
- clean all cleaning equipment and return it to the cleaners’ room or storage area
- discard any waste
- perform hand hygiene
You can use either of the following approaches:
- 2-step clean: clean with detergent and then disinfect
- 2-in-1 clean: clean with a combined detergent and disinfectant
For the 2-step clean, use either:
- Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)-listed hospital-grade disinfectant that acts against viruses
- chlorine-based product such as sodium hypochlorite
For the 2-in-1 clean, use either:
- combined detergent and TGA-listed hospital-grade disinfectant that acts against viruses
- combined detergent and chlorine-based product such as sodium hypochlorite (wipe or solution)
- Australian Guidelines for the Prevention and Control of Infection in Healthcare
- PPE for the health workforce
- Good hygiene
To stay up to date on COVID-19:
You can also join our WhatsApp channel or use our COVID-19 app.
Join our COVID-19 WhatsApp channel to learn the latest on Australia's response to coronavirus (COVID-19). If you're already a WhatsApp user you can send a message to the channel to connect. If you don't have WhatsApp, download the app to join the channel.
Stay up to date with official information and advice about the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. You can check your symptoms and get notified when urgent information and updates are published.
A 30-minute online module — COVID-19 infection control training — is available for care workers across all health care settings.
This training is hosted on an external site, provided by our COVID-19 training partner Aspen Medical.
Publications and fact sheets
A collection of resources for health professionals, including aged care providers, pathology providers and health care managers, about coronavirus (COVID-19).