While antibiotics cannot always treat these infections, good cleaning and hygiene can prevent them from spreading. It’s safe to say when it comes to C. diff the best offense is a good defense.

Cleaning with bleach is the No. 1 means of attacking C. diff spores, say experts.

“There are probably only four to five EPA-registered bleach-based disinfectants with a C. diff claim. These have passed laboratory testing showing they can kill millions of C. diff spores on a surface,” says Tanner. “They are currently the best way to clean C. diff from a surface.”

Darrel Hicks, director of environmental services and patient transportation at St. Luke’s Hospital in St. Louis, and author of “Infection Control For Dummies,” agrees that the best disinfectants used in a C. diff situation are bleach based.

“The spore is very difficult to break through and conventional disinfectants won’t do it. You have to use a sporicidal disinfectant,” he says. “Though bleach can be highly corrosive to surfaces, it is effective against C. diff and our goal is to help save people’s lives.”

As an alternative to bleach, some facilities are experiencing success in the fight against C. diff  by using accelerated hydrogen peroxide (AHP) products. These are clear, colorless and odorless products that are less harsh than bleach counterparts.

Composed of hydrogen peroxide, surface acting agents (surfactants), wetting agents (allows liquid to spread easier) and chelating agents (helps to reduce metal content and/or hardness of water), AHPs have proved successful in killing C. diff spores. In fact, according to testing done by “American Journal of Infection Control,” when used as directed, AHP proves to be as effective as bleach.

No matter which disinfectant is used against C. diff, Tanner advises paying critical attention to dwell times in patient rooms.

“There’s a linear relationship between how long a disinfectant remains wet on a surface and how much disinfection you get,” he says. “You can take a great disinfectant, such as bleach, and if you only leave it on a surface for five seconds, you won’t get nearly the effect you need. Contact time is critical for a liquid disinfectant. If you don’t use it long enough, you won’t get the same level of disinfection.”

At St. Luke’s Hospital, Hick’s staff cleans C. diff patient rooms twice daily. Housekeepers perform thorough cleaning once a day, and then come back a second time to cleanse all high-touch surfaces in the room.

“We go over these surfaces with bleach wipes,” Hicks says. “We go after the spores on a daily basis rather than just on discharge like a lot of hospitals do.”

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