30 Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008
have been published that can be used to formulate effective policies for decontamination and maintenance of reusable cleaning cloths. For example, heat was the most reliable treatment of cleaning cloths as a detergent washing followed by drying at 80oC for 2 hours produced elimination of contamination. However, the dry heating process might be a fire hazard if the mop head contains petroleum-based products or lint builds up within the equipment or vent hose (American Health Care Association, personal communication, March 2003).
Alternatively, immersing the cloth in hypochlorite (4,000 ppm) for 2 minutes produced no detectable surviving organisms in 10 of 13 cloths 403. If reusable cleaning cloths or mops are used, they should be decontaminated regularly to prevent surface contamination during cleaning with subsequent transfer of organisms from these surfaces to patients or equipment by the hands of health-care workers. Some hospitals have begun using a new mopping technique involving microfiber materials to clean floors. Microfibers are densely constructed, polyester and polyamide (nylon) fibers, that are approximately 1/16 the thickness of a human hair. The positively charged microfibers attract dust (which has a negative charge) and are more absorbent than a conventional, cotton-loop mop. Microfiber materials also can be wet with disinfectants, such as quaternary ammonium compounds. In one study, the microfiber system tested demonstrated superior microbial removal compared with conventional string mops when used with a detergent cleaner (94% vs 68%). The use of a disinfectant did not improve the microbial elimination demonstrated by the microfiber system (95% vs 94%). However, use of disinfectant significantly improved microbial removal when a conventional string mop was used (95% vs 68%)(WA Rutala, unpublished data, August 2006). The microfiber system also prevents the possibility of transferring microbes from room to room because a new microfiber pad is used in each room. Contact Times for Surface Disinfectants
An important issue concerning use of disinfectants for noncritical surfaces in health-care settings is that the contact time specified on the label of the product is often too long to be practically followed. The labels of most products registered by EPA for use against HBV, HIV, or M. tuberculosis specify a contact time of 10 minutes. Such a long contact time is not practical for disinfection of environmental surfaces in a health-care setting because most health-care facilities apply a disinfectant and allow it to dry (~1 minute). Multiple scientific papers have demonstrated significant microbial reduction with contact times of 30 to 60 seconds46-56, 58-64.
In addition, EPA will approve a shortened contact time for any product for which the manufacturers will submit confirmatory efficacy data.