Brooms won’t sweep away infections

By: January 27th, 2010 Email This Post Print This Post

Q: Are we allowed to use brooms in a medical facility? Are there any restrictions or guidelines for doing so?

A: In just about any other workplace, brooms are a quick and easy way to clean up clutter or sweep away dust.

The problems with brooms however, is they may appear to “clean” an area, but they are actually just pushing dust and dirt out of the way, and spreading it around rather than eliminating it entirely.

Using brooms raises dust, which creates bacterial dispersal all over the facility. If you were to check window frames, doors or other areas of a facility after sweeping you would likely find new dust deposits. Inspectors and surveyors have been known to look for new dust deposits because they indicate the use of a broom that does not eliminate bacteria or dust.

Although there aren’t any OSHA standards or infection control requirements that address the use of brooms specifically, it goes against IC best-practices. The CDC’s “Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities,” includes a section titled “Recommendations — Environmental Services.”

Among other cleaning and disinfection recommendations, the guidelines address the issue of dusting methods specifically:

Use appropriate dusting methods for patient-care areas designated for immunocompromised patients (e.g., HSCT patients)

  1. Wet-dust horizontal surfaces daily by moistening a cloth with a small amount of an EPA-registered hospital detergent/disinfectant
  2. Avoid dusting methods that disperse dust (e.g., feather-dusting)

You can also download a sample cleaning and disinfection schedule, and a sample housekeeping schedule on the Tools page.


What about the dirty disgusting mops? Facilities are required to install a floor sink in the janitorial closet so they can mop their OR’s. They use mops that are just rinsed in a dirty pale of water. Who knows when these mops are changed! Disposable or washable mops that are only used once should be required. What do you think?

By Mary Ouellette on January 27th, 2010 at 8:49 am

I had that same thought–what about a “Swiffer Wet-Jet” type of mop, with a pad that is changed after each use. Is there anything out there like that that is specifically for use in a facility ?

By Clarice Warrick on January 27th, 2010 at 11:05 am

This became a rule/practice in my hospital in 1975 when I brand new in infection control

By Evan Sweeney on January 28th, 2010 at 10:21 am

The CDC guidelines do touch on this issue. It would be helpful to develop a facility policy around these recommendations so that you have a written reference.

Follow proper procedures for effective uses of mops, cloths, and solutions. Category II

1. Prepare cleaning solutions daily or as needed, and replace with fresh solution frequently according to facility policies and procedures (280,281). Category II
2. Change the mop head at the beginning of each day and also as required by facility policy, or after cleaning up large spills of blood or other body substances. Category II
3. Clean mops and cloths after use and allow to dry before reuse; or use single-use, disposable mop heads and cloths (282,286–288). Category II

By Evan Sweeney on January 28th, 2010 at 10:33 am

Some facilities have started using microfiber mops, which have shown to be more absorbent than conventional mops, and better in preventing cross-contamination. The EPA has a good article about the benefits of microfiber mops.

By Andrew Foret on March 2nd, 2010 at 11:54 am

Microfiber should be the stadard in all facilities, and quite frankly I’m amazed that there are still HCO’s using cotton string mops.

A previous poster mentioned the absorbancy- although true, that’s not what makes the microfiber superior.

With microfiber mops, the pads are stored in a “charging bucket” filled with hospital grade disinfectant. A new pad is used for each room- preventing cross contamination.

There are multiple concerns with reusable mops especially in healthcare. Microfiber reusable provided a major improvement to the bucket charging systems and minimizing cross-contamination which began in the early 2000’s in California. String mops were really nasty buckets. Recent microfiber disposable technology is improving so that the laundry part of the equation goes away. However, the science that makes microfiber good makes it hard to clean. Recent studies are showing laundered microfiber remains contaminated and also retains residual detergents and contamination that accumulates. There is also the industry challenge for years that most of the mops, cotton, microfiber, towels and some disposables etc will neutralize disinfectants.
It becomes a complicated issue and the best you can do is to become educated on the new products that are coming into the market. A lot has changed since the last posting from 2010 as it pertains to new technologies. Geerpres has the new Advantex microfiber mop technology that says it will not react with disinfectants, Diversey offers the Taski microfiber mop, and Rubbermaid has their disposable offering.
Product technology has changed a good bit in past 15 years, especially as disposable microfiber improves and the understanding that costs appear to be coming down substantially.


Leave a Comment


« | Home | »

Subscribe - Get blog updates via e-mail

  • test
  • HCPro Broadcast Events Calendar