The proper disposal of used personal protective equipment (PPE) — including single-use face masks, single-use gloves, and disposable gowns — will help slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. New Ecology guidance addresses the proper disposal of used PPE generated while taking COVID-19 precautions. It is applicable at all businesses, agricultural facilities, recreational venues, residences, and any other place or situation where used PPE is generated.
This information is also applicable to medical care facilities, nursing homes, emergency response vehicles, and other places where normal operations and activities generate potentially infectious waste that may require special handling. Contact the environmental health office of your local health department for additional information about the disposal of infectious waste.
Personal protective equipment disposal guidance is available in other languages at the bottom of this page.
General PPE disposal
Facilities, businesses, and residences can place used PPE generated in response to concerns for COVID-19 in the regular solid waste stream (e.g., municipal trash). For extra precaution, used PPE may be bagged rather than placed loosely in dumpsters or unlined trash receptacles. This will help minimize the potential for Coronavirus exposure to custodial staff, family members, solid waste workers, and others. Lined trash receptacles should meet the need for added protection. Bags should be tied closed before placing them in dumpsters or curbside garbage receptacles.
Medical facilities and institutions generating potentially infectious waste
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there is no evidence to suggest that waste associated with COVID-19 needs any additional disinfection prior to disposal. Medical care facilities and other institutions that generate potentially infectious wastes should continue to use standard precautions to prevent transmittal of disease. These facilities should already be aware of their generation of wastes subject to special packaging, labeling, transportation, or treatment requirements.
Typically, single-use PPE generated as a result of routine activities at these locations may be disposed of in the regular solid waste stream (e.g., municipal trash). Used PPE related to COVID-19 is no different unless it becomes saturated with body fluids that can flow freely or be squeezed from the PPE. Applicable facilities should use their standard protocols to determine if used PPE is subject to any special handling requirements or if it may go into the regular solid waste stream.
More information on COVID-19
Call Department of Health’s hotline: 1-800-525-0127. For interpretative services, press # when they answer and say your language. (Open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.) For questions about your own health, COVID-19 testing, or testing results, please contact your health care provider.