Prevent infections by keeping your environment clean

Keeping your environment clean—whether at home, work, school or the hospital—is an important way to prevent infection. Dangerous germs can take up residence anywhere. By keeping them to a minimum, you will reduce your chances of developing an infection and improve your health.

In the hospital

The Environmental Services (ES) staff plays an important part in keeping your hospital room and other areas of the hospital environment clean. But in addition to the work they do, patients also play a role.

  • Survey your room—does it look clean? Your hospital room should be cleaned daily and look and smell clean. If you have concerns, tell the ES staff so they can be addressed immediately.
  • Don’t contribute to the clutter. Clutter makes it hard for the ES staff to do their job. Limit personal items, keep items off the floor and away from waste containers, have a waste container near your bed, and use it for disposal of personal items (e.g., tissues, pizza boxes, etc.).
  • Keep your bed and bed linens clean:
    • Visitors should not sit on your bed.
    • Take off your slippers, socks, and footies before putting your feet on or in your bed.
    • Never use a dirty pillow. Do not store them on the floor; if your pillow falls on the floor or becomes soiled in any way, ask to have it replaced.
    • Don’t let visitors use your bathroom. Bathrooms in patient rooms are for patients. Visitors should use the public restrooms.
  • Acknowledge the role of the ES staff every day. Thank them for their work. 

At home

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces on a regular basis. Establish a schedule for daily and weekly cleaning and disinfection activities based on the location and level of contamination. Clean more often when there are sick family members.
  • Avoid clutter to limit areas where dust and dirt can collect.
  • Organize your cleaning supplies in one area so they are easy to find; remember to keep cleaning agents away from children.
  • Make it a family affair; keeping a home clean should be shared by all members of the family. Assign young kids simple tasks to keep them involved.

At work

  • Minimize clutter to prevent dust and dirt from accumulating and aid in the cleaning process.
  • Identify what areas you are responsible for maintaining and what areas the janitorial staff maintains.
  • Clean phones, keyboards and other high-touch areas frequently, especially during cold and flu season.
  • Know which products to use and how to use them; always follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

At school

  • Hard surfaces (like floors) and high-touch areas (desks, keyboards, door handles, etc.) should be cleaned routinely.
  • If bodily fluids (such as blood, pus, or other drainage or fluids) have spilled, cleaning and disinfection of the surface should take place immediately.
  • Always wear gloves if handling bodily fluids and when using disinfectants.
  • Clean and disinfect sports equipment and other shared items that come in contact with the skin on a regular basis.

Other tips to remember

  • Hand hygiene. Many illnesses can be prevented with regular hand hygiene using soap and water or waterless hand sanitizer. Clean your hands often, and request that others do the same.
  • Breaks in the skin. Intact skin is a major barrier to germs. Cover any cuts or abrasions with a waterproof dressing to protect them from germs in the environment.
  • Personal items. Don’t share combs, brushes, towels, toothbrushes, razors or other personal items.
  • Cover your cough. Practice respiratory etiquette and request that others do the same. Cover coughs and sneezes with a tissue; if tissues are not available, sneeze into your arm. Always dispose of used tissues in waste containers and wash your hands after coughing and sneezing.
  • Avoid clutter—at home, at work or in the hospital—and make keeping the environment clean an easier job for yourself and others.

Additional Resources