Part three of this three-part article looks at alternative methods for cleaning soft surfaces in healthcare facilities.

Disinfecting with ultraviolet (UV) light also provides an option for these surfaces, says Johnson, whose hospital uses a UV system to disinfect rooms when the patient has an infection like C. diff. UV disinfection systems help prevent the spread of infection to patients who are assigned those rooms down the road.

The hospital participated in a three-year study with this system, and showed it to be highly effective, says Johnson.

“We generally only use this system in highly infectious areas,” he says. “If a patient has C. diff and they are discharged, we’ll run the cycle on that room. We use it in our operating rooms upon finishing a terminal clean.”

Hicks says he’s been watching air-assisted electrostatic sprayers with interest. These machines uniformly apply disinfectant to all surfaces. The systems spray surfaces that might be easily missed or hard for cleaners to properly douse in more traditional ways. Manufacturers claim they protect a surface for up to 90 days, and are disinfectants, deodorizers and cleaners all in one.

“Electrostatic sprayers change the charge on the surface that you’re spraying,” says Hicks. “A surface has a neutral charge, but it becomes a positive charge when this system is used. When it’s positively charged, a disinfectant will stick to that surface.”

A hydrogen-peroxide vapor system is also an alternative method for disinfecting soft surfaces, says Hicks. These systems bio-decontaminate a room by depositing an even layer of hydrogen-peroxide vapor on all surfaces. The hydrogen-peroxide vapor changes into oxygen and water vapor when its work is done, leaving no residue behind. This system works well in the terminal disinfection of a room (after a patient leaves), but it’s not useful for daily cleaning, since it cannot be used with a patient in the room.

Many facilities will use these no-touch technologies as a complement to a chemical disinfectant program, says Hicks.

Finally, Hicks reminds facilities to remember the low-hanging fruit: an ATP meter. This technology is used by less than 20 percent of facilities, says Hicks, yet it is a measurable way of verifying that surfaces are properly cleaned and disinfected.

“We need to monitor if soft surfaces are as clean as they should be,” he says.

That also includes training, says Johnson. Read the instructions for the proper care of a soft surface, then get the tools and chemicals to clean that surface. Finally, make sure to demonstrate and train all employees on the proper use of those tools and chemicals.

“If staff members become fluent in the product’s use, have a good understanding of what they are doing and which products should be used where,” he says, “you will have better results.” 

Ronnie Garrett is a freelance writer based in Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin.

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Using Chemicals For Furniture Cleaning In Healthcare