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8 Steps to Clean and Disinfect Occupied Patient Rooms in your Healthcare Facility

You’re likely too familiar with how challenging it can be to clean an occupied patient room. However, routine cleaning and disinfecting is critical to reducing the spread of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs).

In healthcare facilities like hospitals or facilities with inpatient wards, frequent disinfection of occupied rooms is the best way to maintain a clean, sanitary environment.

Thorough cleaning practices can also help your cleaning team lower the risk of cross-contamination between patient care areas while improving patient satisfaction scores.

Patient satisfaction scores give healthcare facilities insight into the quality of care you provide and areas you can work on to maintain the highest level of cleanliness and comfort.

Keeping patient areas clean is a key part of supporting the health of people in your facility. The risk of infection in patients who are prone to illness can be reduced when their rooms are cleaned and disinfected regularly.

In this article and video, we’ll review the 8 steps to thoroughly cleaning an occupied patient room in a healthcare facility.

Best Practices for Cleaning and Disinfecting an Occupied Patient Room

When your janitorial staff is cleaning an occupied patient room, there are a few practices that are important for them to follow to achieve a thorough and effective clean.

To make your cleaning procedures the most effective, your staff should clean:

  • From cleaner surfaces to dirtier surfaces

All surfaces are dirty, but some may be more visibly soiled than others.

By working from cleaner to dirtier surfaces, your team is able to reduce the chance of cross-contamination. Germs and bacteria from a dirtier surface won’t be transferred to a cleaner surface.

If your staff cleans from dirtier surfaces to cleaner ones, they’ll be moving dirt to areas that have already been cleaned, ultimately requiring more frequent cleaning and disinfection.

  • From high to low (top to bottom)

When your cleaning staff cleans from high to low, or from the tallest point of an object to the lowest, they eliminate the chance of dirt or dust falling and contaminating an already cleaned area.

For example, if the floor of a patient room is cleaned first, the floor may have to be recleaned if soils from a window sill fall to the floor during cleaning. To avoid reworks, the floors should always be cleaned last.

  • In one direction (clean in a pattern)

Cleaning in one direction will help your cleaning staff make sure they don’t miss any areas.

There are a few patterns that your staff can clean in to make sure that nothing in the patient room is missed.

Your janitorial team can clean from left to right or clockwise, starting from near the door and ending on the other side of the room.

Cleaning can also be done from back to front, from the furthest wall to the entrance to the room.

If cleaning and disinfecting of patient rooms is done in an organized way, the likelihood of any surfaces or objects being missed or overlooked.

  • Prioritizing High Touch Surfaces

Cleaning high-touch surfaces in an occupied patient room is an important part of creating a sanitary environment for your patients.

High-touch surfaces in patient rooms should be cleaned at least once a day to remove and kill illness-causing germs, bacteria, and pathogens. These surfaces include handwashing sinks and floors.

Low-touch surfaces, like walls, baseboards, and corners, should be cleaned on a weekly basis.

What Are The Steps In The Cleaning Process Of A Patient’s Room?

Preparing to Clean an Occupied Patient Room

It’s important to prepare for any cleaning or maintenance procedure by gathering the proper tools, commercial cleaning supplies, janitorial cleaning equipment, and personal protective equipment (PPE).


  • premira-disposable-microfiber-mop-padsCloths (Microfiber/Wipers)
  • Wet Floor/Caution Signs
  • Trash Can Liners

Cleaning Supplies:

  • Surface Cleaner
  • Disinfectant
  • Glass Cleaner


  • Vacuum or Dust Mops
  • Double Bucket Mopping/Microfiber Mopping System


  • Gloves
  • Eyewear
  • Face Mask

To clean and disinfect occupied patient rooms in your healthcare facility, follow the steps below:

  1. Conduct A Preliminary Room Assessment
  2. Remove Trash And Dispose Of Sharps
  3. Apply A Disinfectant To Trash Cans
  4. Clean And Disinfect All High Touch Areas
  5. Spot Clean All Visible Marks On Walls, Windows, And Glass
  6. Vacuum/Dust Mop Floor As Required
  7. Damp Mop Floor
  8. Visually Inspect To Be Sure There Is No Soil Load Left Behind

1. Conduct A Preliminary Room Assessment

A preliminary, visual site assessment should be completed before cleaning.

During the site assessment, your janitorial staff should visually check the current condition of the patient to be sure you and your staff can safely complete routine cleaning. 

For example, if a patient has an illness that requires airborne precautions to be taken, such as special PPE requirements, your cleaning staff may not be able to complete a full cleaning of the patient area as normal.

Next, your cleaning team should look for any blood or bodily fluids on the floor that may require special cleaning. 

Finally, your staff should check for any obstacles, issues, or broken furniture and surfaces that would pose a hazard to safe cleaning procedures.

2. Remove Trash and Dispose of Sharps

Once the area has been checked, the trash cans should be emptied 

If the sharps container is full, you should replace the sharps container with a new, clean disposal container.

Check for any large debris on the floor that can also be disposed of in the trash. 

3. Apply A Disinfectant to Trash Cans

After the trash has been fully emptied, disinfectant chemicals should be applied to the inside and outside of trash cans and allowed to dwell and dry before the can liner is replaced.

Disinfectants need to dwell on a surface for a specific amount of time in order to be sure that all of the germs and bacteria on a surface are killed.

Pro-tip: Be sure you know the wet dwell time of your chosen disinfectant. Dwell time is the amount of time the product needs to remain wet on a surface to effectively kill the organisms that are listed on its label.

Check the label of your disinfectant for the proper dwell time of your disinfectant chemical.

Your cleaning staff should apply disinfectants as the third step so that the disinfectant can reach the required dwell time as your staff cleans the remaining surfaces in the room.

4. Clean and Disinfect All High-Touch Surfaces 

High-touch surfaces are surfaces that are often touched and can spread illness and infection from person to person.

In an occupied patient room, some of the areas of greatest risk that should be prioritized during cleaning and disinfection include:

  • Using towel to open bathroom doorDoorknobs
  • Railings
  • Phones
  • Keyboards
  • Nursing Carts
  • Bed Rails
  • Chairs
  • Monitors
  • Any Reusable Equipment or Machines
  • Remotes
  • Meal Trays/Carts
  • Handwashing Sinks
  • Sink Faucets
  • Toilet Seats

Pro Tip: Always Clean Before you Disinfect. It is important to clean or remove any visible soils before disinfecting. Cleaning removes loose soils, preparing the surface or object to be disinfected.  

Once the soil load has been removed from the surfaces, your staff should apply disinfectant and allow the chemical to dwell for the appropriate amount of time.

Your janitorial staff should make sure they’re cleaning and disinfecting all of the high-touch surfaces in the patient room, including the patient restroom.

5. Spot Clean All Visible Marks On Walls, Windows, And Glass

Visually inspect the walls, windows, and glass for visible soils.

Wipe windows and glass using a glass cleaner. For large glass areas, use a squeegee.

If there are visible soils on the walls, your cleaning staff should clean and disinfect these surfaces using a microfiber cloth.

6. Vacuum/Dust Mop Floor, As Required

Step 13 - Mop Commercial Restroom FloorRun the dust mop over the entire surface of the floor. Be careful not to lift the dust mop from the surface of the floor and limit shaking to reduce the chance of airborne dust particles.

While dust mopping is a common way to remove dirt and dust from your floors, you can also use a commercial vacuum to clean the floor of the patient room.

In fact, many healthcare facilities require vacuuming to avoid the redistribution of dust and bacteria.

For patients who have respiratory sensitivities, a vacuum with a HEPA filter will be able to trap dust and dirt particles without redistributing them into the air.

Some vacuums are also designed to emit little to no noise, which makes them perfect for use in occupied patient rooms.

7. Damp Mop Floor

After your floors have been vacuumed or dust mopped, your cleaning staff should damp mop the floor using a microfiber flat mop and a neutral floor cleaner.

A microfiber flat mop will reduce the amount of liquid applied to the floor and lower the amount of time needed for the floors to dry.

Be sure to put down a wet floor sign once damp mopping the floor has begun to alert anyone entering the room that the floor may be slippery.

The mop head should be changed between each patient room to avoid cross-contamination.

8. Visually Inspect The Area to Be Sure There is No Remaining Soil Load

Just as in the beginning, your staff should visually assess the area that’s been cleaned and disinfected.

During this inspection, it’s important for your janitorial team to check to ensure no area or visible soil load was missed.

Your cleaning team should also make sure that the area is dry before removing wet floor signs.

Final Thoughts

Cleaning and disinfecting an occupied patient room will create and maintain a safe, sanitary environment for your patients.

Proper cleaning procedures can reduce the spread of sickness in your facility. Using the best cleaning practices can also lower the risk of cross-contamination across surfaces in your facility.

A clean and sanitary patient room will also contribute to an increase in patient satisfaction.

By cleaning and disinfecting occupied patient rooms using the best practices, your cleaning staff can create the most comfortable environment for the people in your building.

The right combination of cleaning products and procedures will limit the spread of illness and keep your patients healthy and safe.

If you’re located in the United States, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean, or Canada contact an Imperial Dade specialist today for a review of your current cleaning protocols to help you create the best cleaning program to maintain occupied patient rooms.

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