How to achieve consistent
5-star cleanliness ratings?
Infection control is a complicated matter. Achieving a genuinely clean setting is challenging, but achievable with the right products, people and principles in place. When the UK comes out of its lock-down, it is more important than ever to ensure public and shared spaces are cleaned, sanitised and disinfected correctly..
To create a culture of cleanliness and achieve consistent 5 star ratings, we all need to rethink our approach to cleaning. Delivering a high-quality cleaning service is complex, demanding and not to be underestimated
Right product for the right job – laying the correct foundations
The definition of cleaning in its simplest terms is ’the removal of unwanted material without damaging the surface to which it adheres’. In a healthcare environment, ‘unwanted material’ includes dust, debris, marks and spillages, as well as microorganisms that can harm patients. The environment therefore needs to be visibly clean, as well as clinically clean: i.e. meeting safe standards appropriate to the healthcare setting.
The terms cleaning, disinfection, decontamination and sterilisation are often used interchangeably, but they are different and it’s important to understand the difference.
Cleaning involves ‘fluid’ - usually detergent and water – and ‘friction’ the mechanical or physical removal of organic matter including dirt, debris, blood and bodily fluids. Microorganisms are removed rather than killed.
Cleaning alone will leave a surface visibly clean, if carried out effectively. Cleaning is an essential pre-requisite to effective disinfection. Disinfectants, some more than others, are readily deactivated in the presence of organic matter.
Whilst cleaning alone may be sufficient in areas such as foyers, offices, corridors and other ‘low risk’ environments, the addition of disinfection to cleaning is often required in frequently used shared spaces and many healthcare environments.
Disinfection is the process of eliminating or reducing harmful microorganisms from inanimate objects and surfaces.
‘Cleaning’ in higher risk areas usually requires increased cleaning frequencies and the use of a disinfectant to protect higher volumes of people or vulnerable patients.
Assessment of cleanliness by visual inspection alone may not provide adequate assurance that the number of potentially harmful microorganisms in the environment have been reduced to a sufficient level to provide a safe environment and more objective methods of assessing cleanliness should be considered, including where and when detergent and water alone are sufficient and where a detergent and disinfectant (or combined cleaning and disinfecting agent) is required.
Right people for the job
Creating a culture of cleanliness
Employees should familiarise themselves with how to make up any cleaning / disinfecting solutions in line with manufacturers’ instructions and be trained in how to prepare any disinfectants safely. They should also be aware of how to store unused products and how to dispose of it safely. As well as being sure how to select the right product and use infection control equipment correctly, it is important to adhere to the correct methodology and follow the correct processes with regards to contact time, direction of cleaning, and consider transference etc.
Right principles and processes
Consistent best practice
A disinfectant will need time in contact with a surface for it to work. Cleaning staff and employees should all be aware of the contact times of the disinfectants in use. The surface should remain wet long enough for the contact time to be achieved and realistic contact times for use in a busy environment should be a consideration when selecting products for use.
To minimise recontamination of an area and transfer of microorganisms, the direction of cleaning should be the correct one: i.e. one should always clean from top to bottom and from clean to dirty. When dusting horizontal surfaces, high areas such as those above shoulder height should be done first, followed by all other elements. Dusting technique should not disperse the dust, (i.e. use damp cloths/dusting devices). Floor cleaning should be completed last.
The direction of the cleaning motion also matters. Large and flat surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected using an ‘S’ shape motion, starting at the point furthest away, overlapping slightly and without going back over the area to avoid recontamination.
In addition, frequently touched surfaces, such as door handles, light switches, tables etc. should be cleaned more frequently than surfaces with minimal hand contact.
Last but not least, throughout the cleaning and disinfection process it is key to reduce the risk of transference as cleaning solutions can become contaminated during use and continued use of a contaminated solution may transfer microorganisms to each subsequent surface being cleaned. Microorganisms can be transferred between surfaces on cleaning cloths and wipes as well as hands. Therefore, cleaning solutions should be regularly replaced in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions and more frequently when cleaning heavily soiled areas.
Different areas, different risks, different approaches
It is important to recognise that different functional areas represent different degrees of risk and therefore require different cleaning and disinfection frequencies and products. Some places require a full clean daily, others only a touch point clean or a spot clean.
Achieving a consistent 5-star cleanliness rating is feasible, but requires the right products, people and principles to be in place. If you are unsure how to achieve a 5 star cleanliness rating and nurture an award winning culture of cleanliness contact us on email@example.com to discuss a site audit and specific enhanced cleaning recommendations.