CloroxPro Blog – Professional Cleaning and Disinfection Insights

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Disinfectant surface compatibility: what you need to know

Tips to clean with confidence

In healthcare facilities, surfaces are susceptible to contamination with healthcare-associated infections (HAIs). Despite proactive infection control measures, many of these pathogens can still survive on surfaces long enough to be transmitted to patients and healthcare workers.1

Proper cleaning and disinfection with the appropriate disinfectants are a vital component of infection prevention.2

However, it’s important to ensure that the cleaning and disinfection products used in healthcare facilities are compatible with the material that the medical equipment is made of and won’t cause expensive damage to the surfaces or leave behind unsightly residue.2

PHAC and PIDAC guidance highlight the importance of medical device disinfection.3,4

Throughout the Routine Practices and Additional Precautions for Preventing the Transmission of Infection in Healthcare Settings report, the Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) stresses that healthcare organizations need to “identify the risk of exposure to microorganisms” and implement appropriate control measures, which includes the cleaning and disinfection of patient care equipment.

To do so, the Provincial Infectious Diseases Advisory Committee (PIDAC) 2018 publication, Best Practices for Environmental Cleaning for Prevention and Control of Infections in All Health Care Settings outlines the distinct and essential characteristics of Health Canada approved hard surface disinfectants. In the same document, the PIDAC speaks to why healthcare settings must ensure that surfaces and equipment are both cleanable and compatible with the chosen hospital disinfectant. This compatibility, PIDAC explains, minimizes the need to stock multiple products and increases flexibility in selecting surfaces and equipment.

Is it residue, or surface damage?5

Surface residue: After a disinfectant applied to a surface has dried, some of the ingredients in the product will be left behind on the surface.

  • On a smooth surface, the disinfectant may form small beads, which when dry may leave visible spots or circles.
  • If the surface is textured, or if the disinfectant spreads out evenly on the surface, the residue may not be easy to see but may feel sticky or slippery to touch.5

Surface damage: After cleaning and disinfecting a surface for an extended period, it may start to look dull or pitted, or you may see hairline cracks in the surface.5

Types of surface damage commonly seen in healthcare:5

Plastic fatigue – Cracks/crazing usually caused by plasticizing ingredients in formula (usually solvents). E.g., unappealing cracks in hospital and clinic chairs, pillows or other plastic furniture in waiting rooms, patient rooms, dining halls.

Discolouration – Can occur when a protective coating is removed, and the surface is exposed to heat or sunlight. E.g., unattractive or alarming colour changes on side or dining tables, window ledges, washroom paper towel holders, etc. Metal corrosion – Occurs when acidic or alkaline disinfectants damage metal surfaces, even those with protective paints or coatings. E.g., questionable differences in colour or texture on handrails, bars in elevators, door handles, etc.

Tips to remove the residue and reduce the risk5

  • Select products that are compatible with most of the surfaces and materials in your healthcare facility.
  • Follow instructions from manufacturers for cleaning and care of surfaces or medical equipment. Manufacturer instructions may provide recommendations for the types of products that they know are safe to use on these surfaces.
  • Wipe surfaces with a clean damp cloth to remove residue and reduce the risk of damage. Look at the star rating of the CloroxPro® disinfectant and the surface material to help you decide when to do this. As you continue to work hard to provide patients and healthcare workers with healthier and safer environments, consider the type of surface materials being cleaned and which disinfectant you want to use.

Following these tips to eliminate residue and help reduce the potential for surface and equipment damage will help keep your healthcare facility disinfected and looking good.

The CloroxPro® Healthcare Compatible™ approach: 3 testing steps

In 2015, Clorox launched the Healthcare Compatible™ program. Our scientists continue to develop industry best practices to help our customers feel confident about the performance of our products.

  1. Soak test: Material submerged in disinfectant for 4 days.
  2. Wipe test: Surface wiped and allowed to dry 180 times.
  3. Stress test: Hole drilled in material near edge. Material submerged for up to 72 hours.

The CloroxPro® Healthcare Compatible™ 3-star rating system5

CloroxPro® uses a star rating system to account for the varying effects of cleaning and disinfecting products on surface materials. This system grades
the compatibility of our products against a range of hard, nonporous materials such as plastics, metals, tile, quartz, marble and granite. This rating system helps users balance the benefits of cleaning and disinfecting against the risk of surface damage. It provides guidance on when you might need to wipe surfaces with a clean damp cloth to remove excess disinfectant to protect the surface.

3 Stars: No visible surface damage or effect on the material is likely to occur when used according to label directions. No change to the integrity of the material is expected.

2 Stars: Some visible surface damage such as tarnishing or clouding may be seen with long-term exposure. Little to no effect on material integrity is expected. Periodic wiping of surfaces with a clean damp cloth to remove residue can help to minimize damage.

1 Star: Visible damage to the surface is likely to occur with long-term exposure and some effect on material integrity is possible. Surfaces should be wiped with a clean damp cloth immediately after the contact time has been reached to reduce the risk of damage. Users should evaluate the risk of surface damage vs. the benefits of disinfectant efficacy against pathogens to determine whether the product is appropriate for use.

For more information on Health Canada approved disinfectants used on noncritical equipment and hard surfaces, see the Clorox Healthcare® Surface Compatibility Resource Guide here.

References

  1. Kramer A, Schwebke I, Kampf G. How long do nosocomial pathogens persist on inanimate surfaces? A systematic review. BMC Infect Dis 2006;6:130.
  2. Surface Compatibility Resource Guide. Clorox Professional. Clorox Healthcare.
  3. PHAC. Routine Practices and Additional Precautions for Preventing the Transmission of Infection in Healthcare Settings. (p31). http://publications.gc.ca/collections/collection_2013/aspc-phac/HP40-83-2013-eng.pdf.
  4. PIDAC. Best Practices for Environmental Cleaning for Prevention and Control of Infections in All Health Care Settings, 3rd Edition. (p31).
    https://www.publichealthontario.ca/-/media/Documents/B/2018/bp-environmental-cleaning.pdf?sc_lang=en
  5. CloroxPro®. Protecting surfaces while disinfecting. https://www.cloroxpro.com/resource-center/protecting-surfaces-while-disinfecting/. Accessed June 16, 2022.