Learn how to properly disinfect your area when illness is suspected.
How do I clean up vomit and feces after one of my students has been ill?
Those who clean up vomit or feces should minimize the risk of infection to themselves and others by:
- Wearing disposable gloves, standard procedure mask (or face shield), and a plastic disposable apron or water-resistant gown.
- Using paper towels to soak up excess liquid. Transfer these and any solid matter directly into a plastic garbage bag.
- Cleaning the soiled area with detergent and water, using a single-use cloth.
- Disinfecting the contaminated area with one of the recommended disinfectant solutions (see below).
- Depositing disposable gloves, masks and aprons into a garbage bag and re-usable aprons/gowns into a laundry bag.
- Washing hands thoroughly using soap and warm running water for at least 30 seconds.
How do I properly clean up vomit and feces in food preparation areas?
You should start by disinfecting the area (including vertical surfaces) with one of the recommended disinfectant solutions (see below). Then follow these steps:
- Dispose of any exposed food (food that has been handled by an infected person or food that may have been exposed to the virus by someone vomiting nearby).
- Wash all dishes, utensils and trays in a commercial dishwasher; or wash and rinse by hand in hot water and then rinse in one of the recommended disinfectant solutions.
What kinds of disinfectant solutions should I use?
There are several recommended disinfectant solutions you can use to clean safely, kill germs and prevent illness from spreading in your school:
Hypochlorite (bleach) solution
The recommended level of 1:50 bleach solution is made by adding one part household bleach (5.25% hypochlorite) to 50 parts water (or 1/3 cup of bleach to one gallon of water or 80 ml of bleach to four litres of water). This will give an approximately 1000 ppm hypochlorite solution.
- Note that hypochlorite is corrosive and may bleach fabrics. Mixing bleach with other cleaning/disinfecting agents can be dangerous. Never mix bleach with other products unless the product label specifically allows it.
- Applying the bleach solution to surfaces and leaving to air dry should provide adequate contact time.
- The solution should be freshly made to be most effective. Don’t use diluted bleach solutions that are over 24 hours old.
Accelerated hydrogen peroxide solution 0.5%
It is important to understand that this product is not your usual hydrogen peroxide solution. Accelerated hydrogen peroxide (AHP) is a patented cleaning and disinfectant solution that also comes in wipes. It is a combination of commonly used ingredients that when mixed with low levels of hydrogen peroxide dramatically increases its germ-killing potency and cleaning performance. It is sold by various distributors so you will see different brand names. The important ingredient to look for is the accelerated hydrogen peroxide. Information on AHP products is also available on the Virox web site. There is documented evidence suggesting this product is also effective against Norovirus, a common cause of viral gastrointestinal outbreaks in residential care facilities, schools, day cares and other institutions.
- Use as recommended in the product use and safety information
- A minimum contact time of five minutes is necessary to be effective against gastrointestinal viruses.
It is important to note there is insufficient evidence at this time to recommend a disinfectant other than the two listed above where a viral agent (such as Norovirus) is known or suspected to be the cause of a gastrointestinal illness or outbreak. Norovirus is considered to be very resistant to many other disinfectants commonly in use.
How do I clean specific fabrics, surfaces and materials to ensure they are safe?
Cleaning and disinfecting recommendations can vary according to the materials cleaned. Here is a quick guide to how to address a variety of items and surfaces:
- Contaminated linens, clothes, towels, cloths etc., should be washed in the hottest water available and detergent using the maximum cycle length, and then machine dried on the hot cycle.
- Vinyl-covered furniture or mattresses should be thoroughly cleaned with detergent and hot water then wiped down with one of the recommended disinfectant solutions.
- Soft furnishings or cloth-covered mattresses should be thoroughly cleaned with detergent and hot water. For disinfection they can be placed outside in the sun for a few hours. As this is not usually feasible, after being cleaned they should be steam cleaned (strongly recommended) or disinfected with one of the recommended disinfectant solutions. (Note: some fabrics may not be bleach resistant.)
- Contaminated carpets should be cleaned with detergent and hot water then disinfected with one of the recommended disinfectant solutions (note: some carpets may not be bleach resistant) or steam cleaned using the hottest water available.
- Contaminated hard surfaces should be washed with detergent and water, using a single-use cloth, then disinfected with one of the recommended disinfectant solutions.
- Non-disposable mop heads should be laundered in the hottest water available and detergent using the maximum machine cycle length, and then machine dried on the hot cycle.
- Fixtures in bathrooms should be cleaned with detergent and hot water using a single-use cloth, and then disinfected with one of the recommended disinfectant solutions.
- Centre for Disease Control and Prevention: Stopping the spread of germs at home, work and school
- Centre for Disease Control and Prevention: How to clean and disinfect schools to help slow the spread of flu
- Government of B.C.: Preventing illness in child care settings in B.C.