Infection Control At Home

Cleanliness and good hygiene help prevent infection. “Contaminated materials” such as bandages, dressings or surgical gloves can spread infection, and harm the environment. If not disposed of properly, these items can injure trash handlers, family members and others who could come in contact with them.

Certain illnesses and treatments (i.e. Chemotherapy, dialysis, AIDS, diabetes, burns) can make people more susceptible to infection. Your nurse will instruct you on the use of protective clothing (gowns/gloves) is they are necessary.

Notify your physician and/or home care staff if you develop any of the following signs and symptoms of infections:

  • Pain/tenderness/redness of swelling of any body part
  • Inflamed skin/rash/sores/ulcers
  • Fever or chills
  • Painful urination
  • Sore throat/cough
  • Confusion
  • Increased tiredness/weakness
  • Nausea/vomiting/diarrhea
  • Pus (green/yellow drainage)


Wash your hands before and after giving any care to the patient (even if wearing gloves), before handling or eating food, and after using the toilet, changing a diaper, handling soiled linens, touching pets, coughing, sneezing or blowing your nose.

Hand washing needs to be done frequently and correctly; remove jewelry, use warm water and soap (liquid soap is best), hold your hands down so water flows away from your arms, scrub for at least 15 to 30 seconds (30 seconds recommended), make sure you clean under your nails and between your fingers, dry your hands with a clean paper towel and use a new paper towel to turn off the faucet. Apply hand lotion after washing to help prevent and soothe dry skin.

Washing your hands is the single most important step in controlling the spread of infection.


Items which are not sharp including: paper cups, tissues, dressings, soiled bandages, plastic equipment, urinary/suction catheters, disposable diapers, plastic tubing, medical gloves, etc.

Store medical supplies in a clean/dry area. Dispose of used items in waterproof (plastic) bags. Fasten securely and dispose of bag in the trash.


Items which are not disposal (cannot be easily thrown away) including: soiled laundry, dishes, thermometers, commode, walkers, wheelchairs, bath seats, suction machines, oxygen equipment, mattresses, etc.

Soiled Laundry should be washed apart from other household laundry in HOT soapy water. Handle these items as little as possible to avoid spreading germs. Household liquid bleach should be added if viral contamination is present (1-part bleach to 10-parts water solution is recommended).

Equipment utilized by the patient should be cleaned immediately after use. Small items (except thermometers) should be washed in hot, soapy water, rinsed and dried with clean towels. Household cleaners such as disinfectants, germicidal liquids or diluted bleach may be used to wipe off equipment cleaning instructions and ask your nurse/therapist for clarification.

Thermometers should be wiped with alcohol before and after each use. Store in a clean and dry place.

Liquids may be discarded in the toilet and the container cleaned with hot, soapy water, rinsed with boiling water and allowed to dry.


Items which are sharp including: needles, syringes, lancets, scissors, knives, staples, glass tubes or bottles, IV catheters, razor blades, disposable razors, etc.

Place used “sharps” directly into a clean rigid container with a screw-on or tightly secured lid. Use a hard plastic or metal container. Before discarding a container reinforce the lid with heavy duty tape. Never overfill the containers or recap needles once used. DO NOT use glass or clear plastic containers and never put “sharps” into containers that will be recycled or returned to a store. Seal the container with tape and place in the trash can or dispose of according to area regulations.


Blood and other body fluids

Blood/body fluid spills are cleaned by putting on gloves and wiping fluid up with paper towels. Use cleaning solution or household bleach and water (1 cup bleach to 10 cups of water) to wipe the area again. Double bag used paper towels and dispose of in the trash.

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