Introduction: DIY: Disinfect It Yourself Sanitation Station

This project was developed as part of the University of Pittsburgh Swanson School of Engineering course ENGR 0716 The Art of Making: An Introduction to Hands-On System Design and Engineering.

Hello, we are a team of first-year engineers that are doing our part to help with the current pandemic. Our innovation is the Sanitation Station. This Instructable helps guide you through creating a Sanitation Station by redesigning your entryway/garage/porch. The goal is to reduce the possibility that COVID-19 can spread into your home to both promote safety and to give you peace of mind. The concept is based on the premise of a “mudroom”, “airlock”, and “sterile technique” to keep any possibly contaminated items within a small area, so that you can be sure the rest of your house is clean. This involves designating places and areas to put certain items, as well as following specific practices outlined in our Cleaning Guide and User Guide. The following is the list of areas that we suggest designating within your Sanitation Station:

  • Shoes
  • Packages and Mail
  • Miscellaneous Items (keys, wallet, purse, etc.)
  • Cleaning Supplies
  • Trash Bin
  • Hamper
  • Tape, string, or a natural boundary marking the edge
  • A place to hang up the User Guide or place the Cleaning Guide for accessibility

Our Instructable walks you through suggestions of how to create your own Sanitation Station based on your particular needs. However, each situation is unique so feel free to modify the procedure to what works best for you. Our ideas here are meant to serve as inspiration for what you can do at your home. We want this to be able to be made with common household items or those easily and cheaply purchased, to make it more accessible. We suggest that once reading through the Instructable, you print out the guides at the end to use as a reference for important practices.

Once making your Sanitation Station, please click this link to a Google Form here or at the bottom of the page to provide feedback on how this process worked for you and what modifications you made. Thank you and we look forward to hearing from you!


This will be detailed further in other steps of the Instructable.

  • A list of items to keep track of when you come home and sanitize. (See Step 3)
  • A place to set contaminated belongings and sort for cleaning (See Step 4)
  • A container to store cleaning supplies and garbage near the station (See Step 5)
  • Tips on how to clean the items in step 3 (see Step 6)

Step 1: General Design

After this step, the instructions will give specific ways to create the sanitation station. We encourage reading the rest of the steps for more explanation, but the flowcharts above should give an adequate overview if you are feeling confident. We especially recommend you take a look at the cleaning guide step below to ensure all surfaces are cleaned properly.

There are three main components to the cleaning station, all of which are essential for a complete decontamination before entering the building.


  • Specific location to store and organize contaminated belongings before cleaning
  • Enclosed, portable container that stores cleaning supplies and trash
  • A list of instructions that reminds users of what surfaces/items to clean each time they enter and how to clean them

Since all homes are different and have different accommodating spaces, we have designed several variants, an outdoor cleaning station vs indoor, and table vs door vs container cleaning station. We completely understand that there are many more variations possible and encourage you to customize for your home (and post pictures in the comments below)! Also keep in mind that you may end up ignoring an over-complicated, wordy list, and instead focus on the items you may forget more often.

Step 2: Outdoor or Indoor?

We recommend outdoor, table-based cleaning if possible, for a few reasons. Also consider locations such as a garage entrance, back doors, or other entrances.

Reasons for outdoor cleaning

  • Allows to disinfect before even going inside
  • Less chance for missing an indoor home surface to clean
  • Less work to clean, the sun, rain, and other elements help
  • Usually, there is more space to work outside of the home

If this is not possible, an indoor station can work equally well, as long as it is very close to the doorway.

Step 3: What to Clean

When coming home, such as from work or shopping, there are many surfaces that need cleaned. Here are some of the common items that need cleaning when you walk in. The important thing is to remember to clean every item, even ones that are easy to look over- like phones and shoes- which is why we've pointed them out here!

It can be useful to make a list and keep it by your door of these items, especially ones you may be prone to forget about.

  • Keys
  • Phone
  • Shoes
  • Jacket
  • Purse
  • Backpack
  • Pet Leashes
  • Grocery/shopping bags
  • Packages

Step 4: Places to Store Contaminated Materials

There are many different ways to store your belongingsbefore cleaning, here are a few:

  • Tables or other flat surfaces
  • Hooks that stick on surfaces
  • Over-the-door hooks (or even wreath hangers)
  • Plastic containers
  • Cardboard boxes

Of the options above, tables can be a particularly good choice, for the following reasons:

  • Space is accommodating for many different items
  • Predefined space makes cleanup easy
  • Much easier to add organizers to a table than a door

That said, the most important thing is that the way to store the belongings is not used for other purposes. This is to prevent the spread of pathogens throughout the home and is the whole reason the decontamination exists!

General Tips:

  • If most of the items you bring are bags, consider using over the door hooks like these. They are inexpensive and really useful outside of a pandemic as well.
  • If you don't have a table, there are plenty of easy alternatives: for example, a cardboard or plastic box flipped upside down, a chair, or anything that works for you.
  • An excellent surface with a low footprint is a shoe organizer or bookshelf. An inexpensive example is here. It has many compartments for storing items and is thin so it doesn't need much space to fit.
  • If you are using an over the door hook, it is strongly recommended that you still set aside a box or space on the floor for boxes and other non-hanging belongings
  • Using tape on the floor or carpet as a visual barrier works very well to remind you of the "contaminated" area boundary.

Just use what is effective for your situation, and remember the most important part is to contain the contaminated belongings and keep them separated from the rest of the home.

Step 5: Containers for Cleaning Supplies and Trash


Arrange a container (or two) that you can use to hold cleaning supplies and trash.

There are many different ways to store the cleaning supplies and trash, we have described one in this step but please choose the best option for you!
This can be as simple as a shopping bag for waste and a box for cleaning supplies.


  • Containers
    • If outdoors, the container should be at least somewhat water-resistant, like plastic or metal.
      • This container works well
      • Plastic/resealable bags work very well to waterproof the container by enveloping cleaning supplies such as disinfecting wipes and paper towels
      • Make sure to add drainage if outdoors in case of water, this can be as easy as drilling or cutting a hole in the bottom
    • If indoors, cardboard boxes work well as an inexpensive and spacious solution
  • Divider/Garbage separator
    • Cardboard separator or waste bag, if cleaning supplies and trash are in the same container
  • Cleaning supplies
    • Any form of cleaning spray and a cleaning cloth
      • Paper towels, or reusable cloths should work if replaced regularly
    • Sanitizing wipes
    • Hand sanitizer

Procedure for making the above:

  1. Take the container and add the cleaning supplies you plan on including
    1. Make sure that the container closes properly
    2. Mark a line that divides the container into the waste section and the cleaning supplies
  2. Lay the container onto a sheet of cardboard or foamcore
    1. reusing a cardboard box works extremely well as a source for cardboard
    2. trace the outline of the box
  3. Cut the outline out and try fitting the divider into the box on the line
  4. Mark where the divider contacts the container and trim the divider until it fits snugly
  5. Assemble the cleaning supplies, the divider, and add some sample trash
  6. Pro tip: Use a bag to make taking the garbage out much more sanitary and convenient
    1. Make sure that the container closes successfully, and adjust accordingly
    2. Once everything is in order, seal the divider in place with tape and hot glue
    3. All set and ready for use!

    Step 6: Ways to Clean Your Surfaces and Items


    • Cleaning guide here, or make your own
    • Page protectors, lamination, or clear packing tape

    This section is devoted to pointing out what areas need cleaned and the best ways to clean them. We recommend printing one of these and including it on the container or surface to remind you what to clean every time you use the decontamination station. Feel free to use ours, or make your own.

    Particularly focus on the items outlined in Step 3 (image shown again in this step). It may be useful to only remind yourself of a few of these that you are prone to forget, like phone and shoes, so you do not start ignoring the list.

    Make sure to attach the guide somewhere where it will be seen every time you come in the door.

    Possible ideas:

    • The front door
    • The sanitation station table/container
    • The wall
    • The cleaning container

    Step 7: Examples of Finished Products!

    Here are some of the great examples we have that people have made! If you make one of these, please post a picture in the comments or email us at and we can add it to the gallery. Thank you and we would love any feedback you have!

    If you have made the instructable, please take the survey here so we can improve! Thank you!