Caregiving And Housekeeping

It’s important for caregivers to follow these simple housekeeping procedures to protect themselves and their loved ones from infection.


If laundry is soiled with body fluids or potentially infectious materials, treat it as though contaminated. Wear disposable gloves and wash the items in water with detergent and bleach solution.

Dirty Dishes

Wash dishes with hot water and soap. You can add a small amount of chlorine beach to the final rinse water as an added disinfectant; soak dishes, glassware, and utensils in this solution for at least one minute, rinse again in hot running water and allow them to air dry.

Kitchen And Other Work Surfaces

Use the bleach solution to sanitize work surfaces and counter tops, refrigerators, and freezers after cleaning. Wear gloves if your hands will have frequent or prolonged contact with the sanitizing solution. Also check the bleach label for directions and warning statements.

Bedpans And Commodes

Clean bedpans and commodes on a regular basis. Soap, water, and bleach solution are recommended cleaning agents.

Waste Disposal

Disposable items, including disposable cleaning items such as tissues, paper towels, diapers, etc., should be handled with disposable gloves and discarded. All infectious body wastes and contaminated items should be placed in leak-proof containers such as heavy duty plastic bags, tied shut, and then placed in a second plastic bag before discarding. Label the bag “contaminated items”. Follow local regulations for solid waste disposal to remove these items. The normal trash pickup by the city or county is generally appropriate and adequate disposal unless there is liquid blood. Flush feces down the toilet.

Sharp Instrument Disposal

After use, place disposable syringes and needles, blade and other sharp items in puncture-resistant containers. You can purchase such containers from most pharmacies. If eligible for Medicaid, Medicaid will pay for “sharps” (needle/ syringe) disposable containers for home use; ask your physician for a prescription. Be sure the pharmacy you use will accept Medicaid payment for supplies.

County regulations vary; if you are unsure, check with your local Health District.

Bleach solution is 2 teaspoons of bleach in one gallon of water or 1/ 4 teaspoon bleach in a quart of water; you must make a fresh solution every time you use it.

Originally written and published by the Aging and Adult Services Administration Department of Social and Health Services, State of Washington. Reprinted with permission.

Washington State Department of Social and Health Services

Caregivers Handbook

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