How quickly do hospital surfaces become contaminated after detergent cleaning?

Bogusz, Alexandra and Stewart, Munro and Hunter, Jennifer and Yip, Brigitte and Reid, Damien and Robertson, Chris and Dancer, Stephanie J. (2013) How quickly do hospital surfaces become contaminated after detergent cleaning? Healthcare Infection, 18 (1). pp. 3-9. ISSN 1835-5617

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Hospital cleanliness is important for controlling infection. This study aimed to determine the effect of detergent-based cleaning on microbial load at near-patient sites on one ward over a 48 h period. Lockers, left and right bedrails and overbed tables in 30 bed spaces were screened for aerobic colony counts (ACC) and staphylococci (methicillin-susceptible and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus: MSSA/MRSA) before detergent-based cleaning. Sites were rescreened at: 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, 24 and 48 h after cleaning. Microbial growth was quantified as number of ACC/cm2 and presence of MSSA/MRSA at each site. The study was repeated 3 times at monthly intervals. There was a significant reduction in average ACC (360 sites) from a pre-clean level of 6.72 ACC/cm2 to 3.46 ACC/cm2 at 4 hours after detergent-based cleaning (P < 0.0001). Average counts increased to 4.89 ACC/cm2 at 24 h and 5.27 ACC/cm2 at 48 h for all sites. Levels on bed rails and lockers, but not overbed tables, fell below a proposed standard (5 cfu/cm2) for 24 h after cleaning. MSSA/MRSA decreased 2–4 h after cleaning (P = 0.014) before increasing but failed to reach pre-clean levels. Detergent cleaning reduces ACC at near-patient sites on a hospital ward. S. aureus (including MRSA) was not completely eliminated but showed a similar pattern of decrease. Microbial burden at high-risk sites beside the patient could potentially be controlled by daily cleaning with single-use detergent wipes.