For small spills and spills within a safety cabinet

  1. Replace any contaminated personal protective equipment.
  2. Obtain or prepare a fresh solution of disinfectant.
  3. Cover the area of the spill with new paper towels to prevent aerosols and splashing, and carefully pour disinfectant on the towels, starting from the outside of the spill.
  4. Allow for the contact time specified for the disinfectant; 20 minutes’ contact time for freshly diluted 10% bleach (final vol/vol).
  5. Dampen a towel with disinfectant and wipe down the surrounding surfaces.
  6. Push towels from the edge of the spill to the center and dispose of into a biohazard bag.
  7. Use paper towels to absorb any remaining liquid, working from the outside in.
  8. Bag the clean-up materials and disposable gloves as solid waste.
  9. Change gloves after the work surface is decontaminated.
  10. Remove gloves and wash your hands thoroughly before resuming work.


For spills outside of a biosafety cabinet and depending on the materials involved, you may need to vacate the premises for 30 minutes to allow for aerosols to settle and for a few room air exchanges to take place.

  1. Alert others that there has been a biological spill.
  2. Remove gloves to open and close the door behind you, and vacate for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove PPE. Bag contaminated items such as shoes or lab coat for surface decontamination or autoclaving.
  4. Wash your hands.
  5. Post a “Spill Cleanup in Progress” sign at the door warning of the spill and advising of the re-entry time.

    stirring chemicals in the lab

  6. Contact EHS Biosafety at (805) 893-8894 or to report the spill and inform your PI.
  7. Before entry, put on a fresh lab coat, disposable gloves, and safety glasses.
  8. Obtain or make a fresh dilution of 10% household bleach (final vol/vol).
  9. Cover the area with paper towels. Pour (do not spray) 10% bleach on absorbent material in a spiral motion from the outside to the inside. Avoid enlarging the contaminated area.
  10. Allow for 20 minutes’ contact time.
  11. While waiting, wipe down nearby stationary equipment and furniture with towels dampened with disinfectant.
  12. Start at the perimeter and work towards the center to remove towels and place in a biohazard bag.
  13. Change gloves.
  14. Clean the area again with towels dampened with disinfectant.
  15. Remove gloves and wash your hands before resuming work.
  16. Inform the lab when cleanup is complete.

stirring chemicals in the lab