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State of California—Health and Human Services Agency
California Department of Public Health

November 4, 2020

All Residents

Cleaning and Waste Management Considerations for Residences

This guidance is no longer in effect and is for historical purposes only.

This document provides guidance to people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 who are able to receive care at home, and to their household members and/or caregivers, regarding the cleaning of residences and disposal of waste.*


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released general guidance on their website, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), which should be reviewed closely and checked regularly.  Additionally, the CDPH webpage, Coronavirus Disease 2019, provides general information on how to limit the spread of COVID-19:

  • Washing hands with soap and water.
  • Avoiding touching eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick.
  • If you become sick with respiratory symptoms like fever and cough, stay away from work, school or other people.

These are all ways to reduce the risk of infection with a number of different viruses.

Residence Decontamination and Removal of COVID-19 Waste 

CDC has released Interim Recommendations for U.S. Households with Suspected or Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19).

That document  provides detailed guidance, but these are the key current recommendations of the CDC and CDPH regarding cleaning and waste disposal:

  • Perform hand hygiene frequently. Wash hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with 60%-95% alcohol. Handwashing - Clean Hands Save Lives.
  • Respiratory etiquette: Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue, then throw into a lined trash container.
  • Avoid sharing personal household items, dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels or bedding with other people or pets in your home.  After using these items, wash thoroughly with soap and water.
  • Wash laundry thoroughly: Wear disposable gloves while handling soiled items. Read and follow the directions on the labels of bedding, clothing, detergent and/or washing machines. Dry thoroughly using the warmest temperatures recommended on the clothing label.
  • Clean all "high-touch" surfaces every day, such as counters, tabletops, doorknobs, fixtures, toilets, phones, etc. Also, clean any surfaces that may have blood, stool, or body fluids on them. Use a regular household cleaning spray or wipe according to the label instructions, which include precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure to have good ventilation during use of the product.
  • When removing personal protective equipment, first remove and dispose of gloves.  Then immediately clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer.  Next, remove and dispose of facemask, and immediately clean your hands again with soap and water or alcohol based hand sanitizer.
  • Place all used gloves, facemasks and other contaminated items in a lined container before disposing of them with other household waste.
  • Clean your hands (with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer) immediately after handling these items.

Individuals may also consult with their local health department or healthcare provider for any COVID-19 related issues. 


*The California Department of Public Health (CDPH), Medical Waste Management Program regulates the generation, handling, storage, and treatment of medical waste by providing oversight under the authority of the Medical Waste Management Act (MWMA). COVID-19 waste generated in residences is not regulated as medical waste; however, it is biohazardous and precautions need to be taken during the cleaning and handling of this waste.

Originally Published on April 3, 2020