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Maintaining a Hygienic Environment: Smart and Simple Cleaning Tips for Healthcare Facilities

There are many facets of an efficient and effective cleaning program in a healthcare facility, from cleaning to disinfecting to infection prevention. Providing a safe and clean environment can be challenging, but with the right processes in place, facility managers, nurses and housekeeping staff can maintain a hygienic facility for patients, visitors and staff.

According to a recent "Cleaning Industry Insights" survey from P&G Professional, products that get the job done right the first time and work quickly, in addition to simpler cleaning routines, were reported as the most helpful elements when it comes to performing cleaning services in four industries, including healthcare. With that in mind, following are smart and effective cleaning tips to maximize your healthcare facility's cleaning program.

Cleaning vs. Disinfecting: Know the Difference!

Many professional cleaners are unaware of the difference between cleaning and disinfecting. Make sure housekeeping staff know the distinction between the two. Cleaning is the process of removing the soil from a surface, as soil can harbor germs such as E. coli, Salmonella and Influenza. Disinfecting is the process of killing these germs. Cleaning well allows the disinfecting agents to work more effectively than disinfecting alone.

With new technology in cleaning products, cleaning and disinfecting no longer needs to be two separate steps. It can be accomplished in one step with multipurpose cleaning products. To help achieve the best results in a healthcare environment, look for professional multipurpose cleaning products that feature hospital-grade disinfectants, such as Spic and Span® Disinfecting All-Purpose Spray and Glass Cleaner, which has been formulated to remove a broad range of target soils and disinfect simultaneously. Multipurpose products are efficient, effective and help get the job done right the first time. These products can also help save on purchasing multiple products and increased labor time.

For more specialty needs, such as critical care units or operating rooms, be sure to follow guidelines from local and regional governmental agencies for proper cleaning, disinfection and sterilization.

Create Cleaning Protocols and Checklists

Educate staff on cleaning and disinfecting protocols. All staff should be trained on which areas to clean and how to do it correctly. Create a checklist that accounts for all high-touch surfaces in the facility, such as cabinets, countertops, sinks, bedrails, doors, doorknobs, computer keyboards, chairs and light switches. Make sure these surfaces are consistently and properly cleaned. A checklist inspection sheet can help ensure that every task is completed each and every time. Make sure to have a system in place to confirm that the cleaning being done is meeting facility needs and standards. Repeat training also helps ensure that staff stay aware of what you expect and know that doing things right are important to you.

For additional training resources and materials, facility managers can access P&G Professional University — a newly launched web-based educational resource that provides valuable expert insights, training and tools for the cleaning industry. Cleaning staff can log on to www.pgpro.com/university. Registration is free.

Proper Dwell Time: Read Labels!

Whether using a multipurpose product or a stand-alone disinfectant, the solution must be left on surfaces as indicated on the label instructions in order to be most effective. Cleaning professionals should avoid simply spraying and wiping and instead read and follow label instructions carefully, regardless of brand. Products are only effective when used properly.

Clean and Sanitize Tools

Cleaning tools, such as scouring pads, brushes, mops and scrapers, can be sources of cross-contamination. Wash cleaning tools between rooms to decrease the spread of germs or use disposable cleaning implements. Make sure to outline procedures to properly clean and sanitize tools regularly.

The Dirt on Restroom Sanitation

Bathrooms are often reported as one of the most difficult areas to clean. Because restrooms can potentially harbor bacteria, it is critical that they be cleaned frequently to maintain a clean and odor-free environment. These small but tough-to-clean spaces include high-touch areas, such as counters, sinks, faucets, toilets, urinals and flushing levers that should be regularly cleaned and disinfected. Choose a hospital-grade multipurpose product, like Comet® Disinfecting Sanitizing Bathroom Cleaner, that is effective in cleaning and disinfecting restroom surfaces. Be sure to follow label instructions for proper usage.

Handwashing for Hygiene

Frequent hand washing is one of the best ways to fight against the spread of viruses and bacteria. Make sure to have anti-bacterial hand soap and/or anti-bacterial hand gel, such as Safeguard®, readily available and stocked throughout your facility. Additionally, post signage around the building, reminding medical staff, patients and visitors to always wash their hands.

Exceed Expectations

Anyone entering a healthcare facility expects to enter an environment that promotes cleanliness. Patients, guests and staff will notice if an area is not properly cleaned, which could lead to the spread of germs, and of course, customer dissatisfaction.

These simple tips can help ensure an effective and efficient cleaning and disinfecting routine that promotes good patient care and makes the most of valuable staff time and resources. For more information, check out www.pgpro.com.

Michael is the R&D Section Head at P&G Professional. He holds a degree in chemical engineering and is responsible for all formula design, technology development and process development for P&G Professional's air care, hard surface cleaners and dish products globally.

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