San 5 - Basic Cleaning Procedures



Part 5:  Basic Cleaning Procedures


After selecting appropriate products for the specific needs, the most important operational issues are proper mixing or handling of the chemical products and the use of correct methods in performing the cleaning and disinfecting tasks.


Work Area


The AT center should establish a dedicated work area for cleaning and disinfecting. Access to the area should be limited to the individuals who perform these tasks and their supervisors. Ideally, the area will have separate room air exhaust to avoid dispersing fumes into other areas, a sink with access to tap water including hot water, an area for mixing solutions, an area for cleaning tools, secure storage for chemical products, good lighting and appropriate disposal facilities for waste. The work area should conform to the requirements set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.)


Information about the proper cleaning of objects (a procedures manual and/or a collection of manufacturer instructions) and the correct usage of chemicals should be readily available in the work area. Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for all chemicals should be accessible.


Protective Attire


Persons performing cleaning and disinfecting activities should wear appropriate protective clothing. Chemicals should not be used with lots of skin exposed to potential splashes and spills. Long pants and long sleeve shirts are advisable, and may need to be supplemented by the wearing of an apron, smock, lab coat or other protective garments. Safety equipment including safety glasses, disposable gloves and masks should be available.


Guidelines for Mixing Chemicals

The manufacturers recommendations for mixing chemicals should be followed.

If chemicals require mixing for disinfecting, the user should mix only in the strength recommended for the specific application. Full strength should not be used when dilution is recommended. This simply wastes chemicals and money. For example, surface disinfection with household bleach (that is 5% sodium hypochlorite) requires only one ounce of bleach per quart of water. For blood spills the dilution is one part bleach to nine parts water.


Any person using chemicals should always read the manufacturer’s instructions and mix as prescribed for the specific use. Commercial chemicals sometimes are so concentrated that they require only a small amount of chemical with the water.


Different commercial chemicals should not be mixed together. This may cause an undesirable reaction, or alter the effectiveness of the chemicals.


Only the quantity of disinfectant needed at the time should be mixed.  Some chemicals lose their effectiveness after a period of time. Also, extra mixture presents an additional storage issue.


Chemicals should be used as recommended. The disinfectant should be applied to the object as indicated in the manufacturer recommendations. Objects should not be soaked that only require wiping. Chemicals should not be allowed to drip into closed areas where they may cause damage. Objects should be rinsed and/or dried as recommended.


Adequate contact time should be allotted for the disinfectant to be effective. For surface cleaning, alcohol works very quickly. Bleach usually requires about five minutes of contact time while phenols require 10 minutes. Instructions should be followed for contact time. Other tasks can be completed while waiting. The work area should not be left unattended, nor objects exposed longer than recommended.


The work area should be cleaned thoroughly after the use of chemicals. After the devices are cleaned, any spills in the work area should be cleaned. Objects that may have been splashed inadvertently with disinfectant need to be cleaned to avoid adverse reactions. Used towels and wipes should be disposed appropriately. Excess chemical solution should be discarded in compliance with OSHA and EPA regulations. Chemicals and mixed solutions should be stored in a safe manner in secure areas.


Re-usable towels and clothing that become contaminated with chemicals should be placed in a designated area for proper laundering.





2008 National Patient Safety Goals: Home Care Program

Goal 7:     Reduce the risk of health care-associated infections.

Goal 7A:  Comply with the hand-washing hygiene endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.1




12008 National Patient Safety Goals: Home Care Program. ©The Joint Commission, 2008. Used with permission. Retrieved February 5, 2008, from







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This work is supported under a five-year cooperative agreement # H235V060016 awarded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services, and is administered by the Pass It On Center of the Georgia Department of Labor – Tools for Life.  However, the contents of this publication do not necessarily represent the policy or opinions of the Department of Education, or the Georgia Department of Labor, and you should not assume endorsements of this document by the Federal government or the Georgia Department of Labor.


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Other Information

Title: San 5 - Basic Cleaning Procedures
Module: Program Operations
Author: Trish Redmon
Audience: Implementer
Sub Title:
Procedure: Sanitization, general
Organization Source: Pass It On Center
Last Reviewed: 10-25-2009 6:07 PM