News & Updates

December 19, 2019

When To Clean and Disinfect? That is the question.

But whether or not tis nobler in the mind to just wipe it down and call it a day, the fact is that your clients are trusting in your practices to keep them safe. Luckily, by preventing infection through client care processes, we can save lives, and, of course, money! To do this, the cleaning and disinfecting of non-critical shared client care equipment is key. But how should we go about it, and how often?

Studies have shown that healthcare practitioners should abide by a two-step cleaning process when managing MROs and outbreaks. The first step is cleaning, and the second is disinfecting. Why the two-step cleaning process, you ask? Well, you can’t disinfect a surface that is contaminated by dirt and debris.

“Clean first before you disinfect. Germs can hide underneath dirt and other material on surfaces where they are not affected by the disinfectant. Dirt and organic material can also reduce the germ-killing ability of some disinfectants.” – EPA.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) Green Cleaning, Sanitizing and Disinfecting Curriculum, disinfecting without first cleaning the area with detergent causes debris to desiccate (i.e. dry out). This makes it harder to clean the surface as the debris is now stuck to it, trapping microorganisms and protecting them from the disinfectant. The use of a two-step process increases the chances of removing all microorganisms when compared to just disinfecting the surface. Some examples of a two-step process are using a neutral detergent wipe and then using a liquid disinfectant to eliminate microorganisms, or for convenience, using a universal wipe comprising detergent and disinfectant components.

According to a study in the American Journal of Infection, one-step solution wipes containing detergent and disinfectant properties can increase the compliance of Infection Control practices and result in less personnel time spent cleaning. In this particular study, savings of ~$40 USD per nurse were made.

In 1939, Dr Earl Spaulding established a classification for medical devices into one of three categories: critical, semi-critical and non-critical. This category specifies the level of disinfection required based on how the equipment is used. Shared non-critical client care equipment that has been used in the care of clients without a known MRO, and that has only been in contact with intact skin, can be cleaned with neutral detergent and water, or a neutral detergent wipe. Some examples of non-critical equipment that will require cleaning at a minimum between each patient/client use are blood pressure monitors and cuffs, stethoscopes, blood glucose meters, dressing trolleys etc.

So, to conclude this small snapshot of when you should clean and disinfect, the cleaning of non-critical equipment using the mentioned methods is a simple and effective way to ensure all those who live and work in residential care facilities are kept safe from infections. As for the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, you might be on your own.

If you have any lingering questions about infection prevention and control, why not get in touch with us for a free 20-minute consultation?

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