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Clean your home to prevent spreading infections

Regular cleaning of surfaces in the home can help prevent the spread of infections and keep you and your loved ones healthy.  Download the Fact Sheet

What’s the difference between cleaning and disinfecting?

Cleaning is the removal of dirt, germs and other organic matter from surfaces using soap, water and scrubbing. Cleaning regularly with household cleaners containing soap or detergent is usually enough to prevent germs from spreading. Clean more often if there are people in your house who are more likely to get sick, such as elderly and immunocompromised people.

Disinfecting is done with strong bleach solutions or chemical disinfectants to kills germs on surfaces. Disinfect the home when someone is sick or more likely to become sick (for example, people with weakened immune systems).

It is important to clean before you disinfect as the dirt removed by cleaning to lessen the effectiveness of disinfectants.

    Strategies for keeping it clean at home

    • Clean or disinfect surfaces: kitchen and bathroom benchtops can often harbour germs, and other high-touch household items to focus on include TV remotes, doorknobs and handles, light switches, computer keyboards, phones and tablets.
    • Take care when using disinfectants: always wear the recommended protective gear when using bleach or other strong chemicals, and ensure good ventilation if using indoors.
    • Wash hands: good hand hygiene is key to preventing the spread of illness in the home. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and encourage everyone else in the household to do the same.
    • Launder clothes, bed linen and soft toys: wash bed linen, blankets and towels, and stuffed toys in the hottest water available. Other toys can be wiped down with bleach-based wipes or diluted bleach solution.
    • Cover your coughs and sneezes: ideally with a tissue but otherwise into your elbow, and wash your hands immediately.
    • No sharing: ensure everyone uses separate utensils and crockery and doesn’t share drinks or blankets.
    • Floors: vacuum carpets and mop floors at least once a week, more often if someone is sick.
    • Waste: double bag any waste that is suspected or confirmed infectious.

    A note on the use of bleach:

    Diluted household bleach solution can be used to clean hard surfaces in a ratio of four teaspoons of bleach per one litre of water.

    It is very important not to mix household bleach with ammonia or any other cleaning product. Doing so can release fumes which are dangerous to breathe. Ensure good ventilation of the cleaning area during and after application. Check the product’s expiry date, expired bleach can be ineffective.

    Useful Links:

    How to clean your house to prevent the spread of coronavirus and other infections

    When and How to Clean and Disinfect Your Home | CDC

    What is hand hygiene?