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More Questions Than Answers on the Proper Use of Wipes

Study calls for more manufacturer information and better staff training

June 24, 2020

Ready-to-use disinfectant wipes provide a convenient method way to clean and disinfect, and they have become even more popular amid the coronavirus pandemic. In addition to consumer use in homes, these wipes are a common solution to disinfecting high-touch surfaces in schools, health care facilities, and other public buildings.

Despite their popularity, information on how to use these wipes to their greatest efficiency is often not readily available, according to a pre-proof study in the American Journal of Infection Control. Wipes vary in their composition and the disinfectants they contain. In addition, the ratio of wipe material to disinfectant is not standard across wipe brands.

The study found environmental services (EVS) staff in health care facilities use disinfecting wipes in many ways, due in part to insufficient use instructions and inadequate training. For instance, EVS staff tend to rely on their own judgment when it comes to how long they should use a wipe before discarding it. Using a wipe that no longer has adequate disinfectant will not efficiently remove pathogens from surfaces.

The study author made several recommendations to improve the efficiency of wipes. Manufacturers need to disclose the type of fabric wipes are made of and provide detailed instructions for their use, including recommendations on how large of a surface can be disinfected with a single wipe. Manufacturers also should collaborate with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to assure that adequate and practical contact times that correspond with pathogen kill claims are listed on product labels.

In addition, hospitals and other health care facilities need to provide detailed training and improved access to disinfection educational materials to EVS teams.

The Global Biorisk Advisory Council® (GBAC), a division of ISSA, offers a tip sheet on the proper use of disinfectants and specific guidance on cleaning and disinfecting health care facilities, as well as other training resources on eliminating pathogens such as the coronavirus.

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