Perceptions Influence Cleaning Results

Study finds easy-to-clean surfaces may be neglected

July 6, 2020

When a surface is considered a challenge to clean, housekeeping crews may put extra effort into the task, resulting in a surface free of harmful pathogens. But on surfaces considered easy-to-clean, staff may not put as much effort into their work, resulting in an unsatisfactory result.

A study published in the American Journal of Infection Control examined surfaces of a hospital pediatric ward before and after cleaning. Researchers with University College London in England collected more than 1,000 samples from 55 sites within the pediatric hematology-oncology ward at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London. They measured the difference in the amount of colony-forming units (CFUs) of pathogens in consultation rooms, reception areas, patient rooms, treatment rooms, the corridor, and a playroom.

Overall, CFUs in the pediatric entire ward was reduced by 68% after cleaning. However, there were differences in the CFUs among the various areas within the ward, which were cleaned with varying efficiency. Investigators found that the surface material and its perceived cleanability had a substantial effect on the cleaning outcome.

For instance, metal surfaces are often easier to clean than other types of surfaces. However, this perception may have contributed to a lack of cleaning efficiency as the CFU loads on metal surfaces increased 167.68% after cleaning.

In comparison, surfaces made from plastic and coated wood were found to have a reduction of CFU loads after cleaning, as plastic surfaces are considered high-risk for germs and wood surfaces have linked to a decrease in contamination.

Some areas were cleaned more effectively than others. Treatment rooms, on average, showed an 80% reduction in contamination levels following cleaning, while the out-patient reception area saw an increase of 12% following cleaning.

The researchers hope that their findings might lead to better training for those responsible for cleaning pediatric wards.

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