The time has come to turn ordinary cleaning professionals into Hygiene Professionals.  Moreover, infection prevention will only become a reality when Hygiene Professionals are properly regarded, educated and equipped.

The Hygiene Professional must be:

• Well trained

• Equipped with the necessary tools to clean, sanitize, or disinfect

• Allotted time to do the necessary tasks

• Provided the tools to enable scientific measurement

• Educated about the prevention and transmission of disease

Remember, also, that infection prevention doesn’t rely solely on the Hygiene Professional at your facility. Infection prevention must be a partnership and joint effort between the cleaning staff, patient, nursing staff, doctors and anyone else who enters a patient room.  For example, the environment can be maintained throughout the 24-hour day by using disinfectant wipes to clean common touch-points, removing spills immediately, posting signs, and verbally reminding others to wash their hands.

Because nurses enter patient rooms most frequently, asking them to assist in this process will help in reducing surface-mediated transmission of disease.

For too long, clean has been a subjective term—determined by a simple visual assessment.  Two people inspecting the same room or the same object might have a different opinion about whether or not it passes the test.

The fact is, surfaces appearing to be clean might not necessarily be clean when scientifically quantified or qualified. Remember, what you can’t see can hurt you. You should be striving for health-based or hygienic cleaning (cleaning for healthier environments and not just for appearances).


J. Darrel Hicks, REH, CHESP, is the author of "Infection Control For Dummies" and has over 30 years of experience in the jan/san industry. For a free 30-minute phone consultation, contact him at or through his website at