Environmental cleaning: Bleach vs. disinfectant

By: November 2nd, 2009 Email This Post Print This Post

For many years it was recommended that healthcare facilities use 1:10 or 1:100 bleach-to-water mixture to clean patient rooms because it was the best at killing infectious organisms. Now manufacturers have produced EPA-registered quaternary ammonium (Quat) or other low-level or intermediate-level disinfectants.

A survey conducted in 2009 by Health Facilities Management and Materials Management in Healthcare magazines in conjunction with ASHES and APIC on infection prevention and hospital cleaning found that 68% of facilities were using sodium hypochlorite or household bleach, while 6% were planning on using it. On the other hand, 85% were using Quat disinfectant.

Many facilities have switched from bleach for routine disinfection because Quat is less toxic for environmental services employees and it eliminates the process of mixing chemicals, says Linda Dickey, RN, MPH, CIC, APIC, member and assistant director of epidemiology and infection prevention at the University of California, Irvine (CA) Healthcare.

“The CDC talks about using bleach if we see a cluster or an increase in organisms such as C. difficile,” Dickey says. “That’s what we do here at UC Irvine, we don’t use bleach across the board. There are some organizations that have increased their standard use of bleach and there are some areas, like dialysis units, that have used a lot of bleach in the past and continue to do so because they are comfortable with it and it’s something they would like to use because they work around a fair amount of blood.”

Generally speaking, however, products like Quat disinfectant “do a good job and are effective and can be used safely,” Dickey says.

Medical Environment Update subscribers can read the full article on environmental services by clicking here. Non-subscribers can read a portion of the article at the same link.

Linda Dickey, RN, MPH, CIC, APIC, member and assistant director of epidemiology and infection prevention at the University of California, Irvine (CA) Healthcare.

Comments

Forget bleach. There is also a highly effective Sporicidal Disinfectant available that has very low toxicity.

 

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