Sanitation, hygiene and safety are paramount in healthcare settings. The health of patients, staff and visitors depends on a clean, disinfected environment.
As trends in commercial cleaning continue to include more green and environmentally friendly products and practices, it is important to maintain effective methods of disinfecting hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities.
Ideal disinfection of a healthcare environment should meet the following qualifications:
- A high kill of organisms that pose a threat of infection, most importantly Clostridium difficile (C. diff) spores.
- Quickly accomplished in a thorough manner.
- Easy to perform by trained cleaning staff.
- A cost-effective set of practices and products that meet a high standard of cleanliness.
- Sustainable cleaning program that is nonconsumptive and has minimal waste.
- Uses cleaning methods and products that are safe for staff and patients to interact with.
- Reduces infections and improves patient health.
Green Cleaning Products and Practices
Chemical disinfectants, Ultraviolet systems, and steam vapor cleaners are among the most commonly used disinfection systems used in healthcare environments today.
- Chemical disinfectants. Chemical disinfectants make use of Volatile Organic Compounds, ethers, ammonias and other chemicals and detergents. Chemical disinfectants are considered hazardous and need to be handled with care and stored safely. These cleaners are relatively affordable, easy to obtain and simple to use. While not considered green cleaning products, themselves, there are green cleaning methods that can make the use of chemical disinfectants more sustainable. Using chemical cleaners that are in concentrated forms allows cleaning staff to dilute them to the desired amount, helping save on packaging, shipping and waste reduction.
- Ultraviolet room disinfecting systems. UV cleaning systems are an effective, chemical-free way of disinfecting surfaces in healthcare facilities. While there are amounts of mercury in the UV emitters themselves, the cleaning process is essentially the shining of a UV light over surfaces that need to be disinfected. The obvious benefits are many, including no VOCs, chemicals or detergents. UV disinfection cannot, however, be used for daily cleaning of rooms or spaces. It does not remove dirt, dust or grime—it simply kills organisms.
- Steam vapor sanitation systems. The high heat of steam is used to disinfect hospitals and clinics with steam vapor sanitation machines. Tap water and a cloth attachment help remove dirt and grime while killing bacteria and other organisms with the power of steam. The high temperatures and penetrating nature of steam make this an attractive option for disinfecting textiles, curtains and other permeable surfaces in healthcare environments.
Hopefully this brief guide will help you begin your search for greener, more sustainable cleaning methods in your healthcare facility.
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