Use Disinfectants Correctly to Prevent Microbial Cross-Contamination

Media reports with sensationalized headlines on disinfecting wipes spreading germs in hospitals instead of killing them spread widespread anxiety among the public about transmission of microbial infections and microbial cross-contamination. However, the fact is that these reports were based on investigations that analyzed the efficacy of environmental wipes to clean and disinfect infected surfaces. Researchers discovered that the problem was not with the product – disinfectant wipes – but with the way they are used.

Quality surface wipes can clean and disinfectant contaminated surfaces provided personnel in healthcare facilities follow safe practices when using them. Many disinfectant wipes such as CaviWipes by Metrex are Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved intermediate level disinfectants that are effective against TB, HBV, and HIV. The efficiency of this product depends on its proper use. Here is how this can be ensured:

The person doing the cleaning should wear protective clothing, heavy utility gloves, a mask, and protective eyewear.

The discard wipe should be used for precleaning as well as disinfecting. The surface to be disinfected should be precleaned. This is necessary to minimize the extent of bioburden (blood or saliva) present. Precleaning will help the disinfecting chemical to work and start killing the bacteria early, reducing the chances of the contamination spreading to nearby surfaces. It also helps protect the person doing the cleaning.

After a wipe is removed from the container, the lid should be closed, and the wipe should be used to clean the surface briskly. Then this wipe should be discarded. A fresh wipe should be used to clean the surface once again. This will ensure the death/removal of the contaminants. This towelette should also be discarded. Finally, the surface should be allowed to dry.

Studies have proved that environmental surface disinfectant wipes are an appropriate option to decontaminate inanimate surfaces in hospitals, nursing homes, clinics and laboratories. It’s important to check out the physical composition and active antimicrobial chemical content of wipes before purchase.