This Manufacturer Roundtable took the compilation of questions Facility Cleaning Decisions received from in-house custodial professionals and posed them directly to cleaning industry manufacturers. Here are their responses:

Jason Welch
Spartan Chemical Co. Inc.
Maumee, Ohio

Sara Snow
Senior Scientist
Clorox Professional Products Company
Oakland, Calif.

Q: Should workers use a hospital-grade disinfectant everywhere in the hospital, or should it be reserved for specific surfaces/locations?

Welch — Simply the answer is no. The CDC publishes guidelines for criteria deemed necessary.

Snow — Hospital-use disinfectants should be used throughout the hospital to disinfect surfaces and medical devices.  They are especially important for frequently touched surfaces (e.g., bed rails, bedside table, light switches, phone, TV remote, IV stand, glucometers). Microorganisms are invisible to the naked eye so you can never be sure which surfaces are contaminated and which are not. This is why disinfection is so important. The CDC recommends using “a one-step process and an EPA-registered hospital disinfectant designed for housekeeping purposes in patient care areas where 1) uncertainty exists about the nature of the soil on the surfaces (e.g., blood or body fluid contamination versus routine dust or dirt); or 2) uncertainty exists about the presence of multidrug resistant organisms on such surfaces.”

For example, a recent study found that C. difficile spores are not just found in isolation rooms, but have been detected on surfaces facility wide. To kill C. difficile spores and other dangerous microorganisms, it is best to use bleach-based disinfectants throughout the facility.

Q: Are all cleaners/disinfectants designed for hospitals safe to be used around patients?

Welch — No, environmental services staff should always read labels and MSDS and determine the proper product to use based on the specific application.  For example, some patients might be sensitive to fragrances and a fragrance-free product would be most suitable.

Snow — EPA-registered products have been thoroughly tested and are safe when used in accordance with the label. Always follow the directions for use on the product label, and only use products for their intended use. For example, a disinfecting wipe designed for environmental surfaces should never be used on skin or for hand hygiene. For more information about product toxicity and warnings, refer to the product’s EPA-approved label and material safety data sheet (MSDS). Using premixed, ready-to-use products will help your staff avoid the risk of spilling high-concentration chemicals during preparation/mixing.

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Identifying And Using Hospital-Grade Disinfectants
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Developing A Disinfecting Plan