ALL
Health Information and Tools > Health A-Z >  Cleaning up spills
Facebook Tweet Email Share

Main Content

Safety When You’re Taking a Known Hazard Medicine

Cleaning up spills

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​What is a spill?

A spill isn’t just a liquid. It could be the powder from a cut tablet or a broken capsule.

What supplies do I need to clean up a spill?

Your healthcare provider will talk to you about a spill kit, which includes all the supplies you need to clean up​ a spill. Follow your healthcare provider’s instructions.

You can also make your own spill kit with these items:

  • disposable rags or pads, paper towels, or toilet paper
  • chemotherapy gown (only if the spill might get on your clothes)
  • N95 mask
  • goggles
  • 2 garbage bags
  • 2 pairs of gloves

Cleaning up a spill

Before you clean the spill:

  • Keep other people and pets out of the spill area.
  • If the medicine or body fluids has contact with a person’s eyes, skin, or clothes (including bedding), take care of the person first (See Contact with eyes or skin for first aid care).
  • Don’t step in the spill or touch it with your bare hands.
  • Try not to breathe in any spilled medicine.

Follow these steps carefully to clean the spill:

  1. Wash your hands with soap and water.
  2. Put on a gown if you think you may get some of the spill on your clothes.
  3. Put on an N95 mask.
  4. Put on goggles.
  5. Put on gloves (2 pairs if possible). If you’re wearing a gown, the first pair of gloves goes under the cuffs of the sleeves. The second pair goes over the cuffs of the sleeves.
  6. Only touch the spill area—nowhere else.
  7. Start at the area with the smallest amount of spill and move to the area with the most spill.
  8. Soak up the spill with pads from the spill kit or disposable rags, pads, paper towels, or toilet paper. If the spill was a powder, put a little water on the pad, rag, or towels first to help wipe up the powder.
  9. Put everything used to soak up or wipe the spill directly into the first garbage bag. Try not to touch the opening of the bag.
  10. Use dish soap or laundry detergent and warm water to wash the area 3 times—soap then water, soap then water, soap then water. Between each soap and water cycle, wipe the area dry with disposable rags, pads, or paper towel.
  11. Put everything used to wash the spill area into the first garbage bag.
  12. Rinse the spill area with clean water and clean, disposable rags, pads, or paper towels. Put them in the first garbage bag. Try not to touch the opening of the bag.
  13. Dry the area with clean, disposable rags, pads, or paper towels and put them in the first garbage bag.
  14. Carefully take off, in the following order, your outer gloves, gown, googles, and then N95 mask. Put them into the first garbage bag.
  15. Close up the first garbage bag and put it inside the second garbage bag.
  16. Carefully take off your inner gloves and put them in the second garbage bag.
  17. Close up the second garbage bag tightly and throw it out with your regular garbage (see Throwing out medicine, used supplies, and garbage​).
  18. Wash your hands with soap and water.

After cleaning up the spill, call your healthcare provider and tell them about the spill.


Current as of: May 28, 2021

Author: Provincial Hazardous Medication Committee, Alberta Health Services