Cleaning and Disinfection

Cleaning and Disinfection Guidelines for Households on Home Recovery

Revised on 22 October 2021
Release on 15 October 2021

This document provides guidance by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the National Environment Agency (NEA) for households currently on Home Recovery or residences that may be exposed to the COVID-19 virus. It is based on current knowledge of COVID-19 and has been adapted from existing guidance documents from MOH[1] and NEA.

COVID-19 can be transmitted by close contact, respiratory droplets released from an infected person and through virus aerosols in the air especially in enclosed environments which are poorly ventilated such as an air-conditioned room. People may also be infected if they touch their eyes, nose or mouth after coming into contact with surfaces that have been contaminated by the virus.

During the Home Recovery period, it is important for COVID-19 patients and their household members to keep the environment at home clean and safe, by practicing the steps in this guide.

A.   Important Information

1.    The household must not receive any visitors into the home until all isolation/quarantine periods have ended, and the home has been cleaned and disinfected. During the Home Recovery period, surfaces within the residence may become contaminated with the COVID-19 virus, which can survive on surfaces of different materials for at least 2 to 3 days.

Refer to the steps outlined in Section B on how to properly disinfect your residence.

Refer to the list of companies that can carry out disinfection works if you wish to engage a contractor to disinfect your home after all isolation/quarantine periods have ended.

2.    Cleaning and disinfection of the home should be done as frequently as possible, but must minimally be done:

i.        After the isolation period for COVID-19 patient.
ii.        After the quarantine period for the entire household.

3.    Maintain a high level of hygiene:

i.    Wash your hands before and after any task, especially before meals and after using the toilet.
ii.  Frequently clean and disinfect high-touch surfaces, such as tabletops, keyboards, computer mice, tablets or doorknobs.
iii.  Close the toilet lid when flushing to limit the spread of any splash of waste matter.
iv.  Add toilet disinfectant tablets or leave-in disinfectant to the water cistern of the toilet and top up as required.

4.    It is recommended that the room is ventilated to allow fresh air into the room. This can help to reduce the concentration of airborne contaminations, including viruses in the room.

5.    If available, use a portable air cleaner with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter in the room where the COVID-19 patient is isolated. This will help to reduce the risk of aerosol transmission, as portable HEPA air cleaners have been demonstrated to be effective in removing the COVID-19 virus in the air.

i.  If a second portable HEPA air cleaner is available, it should be placed in the room where the largest number of people spend the most time.
ii.  Portable HEPA air cleaners used should have a minimum smoke Clean Air Delivery Rate (CADR) of 260 cmh (153 cfm)[2].

B.   Cleaning of Residences

I.        Items to Prepare for Cleaning

1.    Personal protective equipment (PPE), minimally gloves and surgical mask.

2.    Prepared cleaning solution using household disinfectant[3], or bleach (sodium hypochlorite) solution.

i.        Using household disinfectant: prepared according to manufacturer’s recommendations.
ii.        Using 0.3% - 0.5% bleach solution: mix 1 cup of regular household bleach with 9 cups of water.

(Note: Surfaces cleaned using bleach should be rinsed with water after 10 minutes, for example wiping the surface again with a wet cloth)

3.    A change of clothes
4.    Plastic/Trash bags
5.    Disposable cloths or rags
6.    Pail
7.    Mop

II.        Cleaning Instructions

1.    Leave the area to be cleaned well ventilated, with the windows opened, for at least 3 hours before cleaning. If cleaning the room(s) used by COVID-19 patients, ensure the rooms are also left undisturbed during this time.

2.    Put on gloves and surgical mask before cleaning. Avoid touching your face and eyes during the process of cleaning. Keep room(s) well ventilated during cleaning.

3.    All linens need to be washed as the virus can stay on surfaces such as curtains, bed sheets, carpets, mattresses, pillows or cushions for 2-3 days:

i.         Laundry should be placed directly into the washing machine or a pail of water and washed with laundry detergent. Avoid tossing or throwing the fabrics.
ii.        Mattress protector is recommended and can be washed together with normal laundry during the home recovery process.
iii.       As the recovered person, you may continue to use your own mattress after recovery. However, other household members should not use the same mattress for at least 3 days after your recovery.
iv.       Set items you are unable to wash or disinfect aside and do not use them for at least 3 days after recovery.
v.        Otherwise, you may engage a cleaning contractor (see List of companies that carry out disinfection works) to properly disinfect these items.

4.    Mop the floor with the prepared cleaning solution, starting from one end of the room(s) to another. Avoid moving from an area that has not been cleaned to an area that has been cleaned, to avoid dirtying the cleaned area.

5.    Soak cloths with the prepared cleaning solution and use them to wipe all frequently touched areas in the room(s) (e.g. doorknobs, armrests, tables, keyboards, mouse, switches, walls, etc.). To prevent any cross-contamination, rinse and soak the cloths with the prepared cleaning solution before moving on to clean the next surface or use another cloth.

i.        If using disinfectant from a spray bottle, spray disinfectant onto a cloth instead of spraying directly onto the surface, to avoid creating splashes which can further spread the virus.

6.    Clean toilets using the prepared cleaning solution:

i.        First, disinfect the sink U-trap (pipes) and toilet floor trap to reduce the risk of the COVID-19 virus spreading via aerosolisation from wastewater by adding 1 cup of the prepared cleaning solution (approximately 250ml) into the sink, and 2 cups of the prepared cleaning solution down the floor trap (approximately 500ml).
ii.        Clean all accessible surfaces (sinks, taps, soap dispensers, toilet roll dispensers, doors, handles, flush buttons, etc).
iii.        Clean urinals and toilet bowls with a brush, and flush with lids closed.
iv.        Brush and cloths used for urinals, toilet bowls, and seat covers should not be used for other surfaces.
v.        Use a separate cloth for toilet seat covers.
vi.        To further minimise the risk of aerosol transmission, it is recommended that toilet disinfectant tablet or leave-in disinfectant should be added into the toilet tank to sustain the disinfection effect.
vii.        Clean the toilet floor with the prepared cleaning solution from the exit inwards.

7.    Repeat Step 4 thoroughly to disinfect the residence or room(s).

III.        Waste disposal and change of clothes instructions

1.    Disinfect mop-heads and pails used for cleaning by soaking in disinfectant or mild bleach solution.

2.    After cleaning and disinfection is completed, remove gloves and surgical mask, and wash your hands with soap and water.

3.    Throw gloves and mask(s) into double-lined plastic/trash bag.

4.    Shower and change your clothes immediately after the clean-up. Wash these clothes as soon as possible.

C.    References

[1] Ministry of Health, Singapore. (2014). MOH Pandemic Readiness and Response Plan for Influenza and other Acute Respiratory Diseases

[2] This is based on a typical HDB room size of 20 m2 and 2.6 m height. The larger the volume of the room, the higher the CADR needed. For more information on portable air cleaners and sizing of CADR, please refer to NEA’s technical advisory on use of air-cleaning technologies to mitigate COVID-19 aerosol transmission risk

[3] For more information, please refer to the "List of Households Disinfectants and Self-Disinfecting Surface Coating Products Against COVID-19 virus" for a list of disinfectants and active ingredients that are suitable for coronavirus disinfection.