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Standard Precautions: Cleaning Up Contamination

Cleaning bed

Follow your employer’s guidelines for cleaning up substances that may spread germs. To use standard precautions, follow the guidelines below.

Handling laundry

  • Protect your hands, mouth, eyes, and clothing. Wear gloves, a mask, and a gown if needed.

  • Be alert for hidden sharps.

  • Never shake out laundry. Hold soiled laundry away from your body to avoid contaminating your clothing.

  • Put soiled laundry right into the approved container. Do not put it down on any surface. Place wet laundry in leakproof bags.

Cleaning patient rooms

  • Clean any surface, object, or equipment that a patient might touch. This includes bedside tables, bed rails, telephones, call bells, doorknobs, bathrooms, and light switches.

  • Clean and disinfect bins and pails. Empty trash containers.

Safe housekeeping

Cleaning table

  • Wear the right personal protective equipment (PPE) for the job. Cleaning may require special gloves. Follow your facility’s guidelines. If fluids or dust may splash or spray, wear an apron, gown, mask, goggles, face shield, and/or shoe covers.

  • Clean up spills of blood and other body fluids or substances carefully. Use a spill kit, if provided. Use disinfectant approved by your facility.

  • Throw out all “single use” items after one use. Place used needles and other sharps in marked sharps containers. 

  • Do not pick up glass with your hands, even if you’re wearing gloves. Use tongs or a broom and pan.

  • Always wash your hands after removing gloves.

Guidelines for nondisposable equipment

  • Each patient should have his or her own patient care equipment. If this is not possible, items must be cleaned between patients.

  • Thoroughly clean all equipment and other items that touch the patient.

  • Use approved disinfectant. Follow the product’s guidelines to allow time for the disinfectant to work before wiping or rinsing.


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