Gerba found that as some cleaning tools, such as sponges, mops (including microfiber mop heads) and cloths are used, "they actually become micropile compost heaps [causing the cleaning worker] to just spread a thin layer of E. coli over the surface as they clean."
Although it has long been suspected that using soiled cleaning tools can spread contaminants, this is one of the first times the issue has been specifically analyzed and scientifically reported.
Kaivac Inc., developers of the No-Touch Cleaning® system, wanted to find out whether cleaning professionals are aware of this issue. A survey was distributed in the June 2009 issue of Kai-leidoscope, Kaivac’s monthly e-newsletter. Subscribers were asked:
Are you aware that wiping down counters and surfaces can actually spread more bacteria and contaminants than it removes?
The survey found that more than 87 percent of those responding knew that soiled cleaning tools, especially cleaning cloths, can spread contaminants; only about 12 percent said they were not aware of that fact.
"This is an issue that cleaning professionals must be aware of," says Matt Morrison, communications manager for Kaivac. “Using soiled cleaning tools can defeat the whole purpose of cleaning. Fortunately, there are new technologies, squeegee-based flat surface cleaning systems as well as spray-and-vac cleaning systems, which help eliminate cross-contamination concerns."