Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Infection Control Q&A

April 14, 2011

Because we greatly appreciate the time that everyone took to attend our Infection Prevention Strategies for Commercial Facilities webinar on March 3, we wanted to ensure that any questions had by audience members were promptly and thoroughly addressed.

And, understanding the potential damage of misinformation, author of Infection Control for Dummies Darrel Hicks was willing to offer advice in his field of expertise.

Below is one of the informational responses Hicks provided via e-mail to Alan Goytowski from the University of West Virginia.

Goytowski: “We have an athletic facility that has a busy schedule of student, staff and athletic events, practices and exercise programs. What is the best practice for cleaning gyms, weight rooms, locker rooms and pool surfaces?”

Hicks: Due to the fact that pools, locker rooms and weight rooms are reservoirs for mold, fungi and bodily fluids, I believe you need an aggressive program of daily terminal cleaning and, at the same time, provide both hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes for the patrons.

My idea of daily terminal cleaning would be using a spray-and-vacuum machine that will blast soil and contaminants from surfaces, then vacuum them up.

This would be in locker rooms, showers and pool areas.

For anything that is touched by hands, I would use a two-step approach.

  1. Thoroughly clean the surface and measure the results.

    After cleaning, use an adenosine triphosphate (ATP) meter to measure the level of soil removal.

    ATP is the energy molecule inside all living cells and can provide a rich food source for pathogens.

  2. Apply a “shield” product on the high-touch surface.

    There are products that leave a protective shield on surfaces for up to 90 days.

    The shield has nano-spikes in it that impale and kill the microorganisms that fall on it.

It''s kind of Star Trek stuff, but very interesting.


Another question was asked by Bonifay Manahan from the Southeast Alabama Medical Center.

Manahan: “Is there a way to determine how effective microfiber is after it has been laundered several times?”

Hicks: I believe the best way is to use an adenosine triphosphate (ATP) meter after cleaning has been performed.

As I stated during my presentation, there are ways of measuring the efficacy of your cleaning processes, chemicals and tools — my favorite being the ATP meter.

ATP measurement has been used in food processing for years, but until now, the cleaning industry lacked precise, portable and cost-effective devices.

By providing feedback in less than 30 seconds, ATP meters enable cleaning professionals to verify how clean surfaces are with respect to organic matter, and to carry out continuous improvement programs to enhance overall performance.

Other measures of clean include devices and measurement platforms that detect fungal enzymes, particles, airborne dust masses, moisture and more.

These systems are becoming increasingly available, portable and affordable.

I hope this answers your question.