Although chemicals are used most often to fight C. diff, they aren’t the only option. Tanner maintains that new technologies such as ultra-violet (UV) light systems, room foggers and industrial steam cleaners have emerged to give departments alternative choices.

UV room disinfection systems flood a room with UV light via a flashing bulb or solid light. These devices offer an advantage over traditional cleaning methods, says Tanner, because they hit every single surface in a hospital room.

“Studies have shown that out of all the surfaces that must be cleaned in a hospital room, only 39 percent will actually be cleaned by housekeepers,” he says. “A UV system hits every single high-touch surface, every time it’s used.”

In addition, two- or three-log reductions (a mathematical term used to show the relative number of live microbes eliminated from a surface by disinfecting or cleaning) can be possible with these systems. In other words, germ counts could be 10 to 1,000 times smaller by using this technology.

“I think over time you’ll see UV light systems become ‘the’ solution to the C. diff problem,” Tanner says, noting their lack of popularity probably has more to do with the cost of these systems and the general lack of acceptance among infection control professionals who still see bleach as the only effective means of attacking C. diff.

Room foggers present another option. These systems pump hydrogen gas into a room to kill C. diff end spores. While these units effectively kill bacteria, they can take two to three hours to do so. And because the gas they push into the room is highly toxic, it requires the room to be sealed off while fogging takes place.

Steam cleaners are another tool that may be effective against C. diff. Though C. diff spores are naturally heat-resistant, Tanner says he’s seen at least two studies from separate labs that have shown steam cleaning can reduce the amount of C. diff spores by up to 90 percent.

“Steam cleaning is likely most appropriate for high-touch surfaces such as bed rails, doorknobs and things like that,” he says.

previous page of this article:
Bleach and Other Chemicals Effective Against C. diff
next page of this article:
C. diff Cleaning Procedures