In the April edition of Infection Control Today, Kelly Pyrek’s article “Disinfection and Surface Compatibility” is a valuable tool for any one that deals with surface disinfection.  She references Linda Lybert’s points to key aspects of surface materials as they relate to the environmental hygiene process. 

These surface materials points include:

  • Materials and textiles:  brushed stainless, pebble texture acrylic wall surfaces and textiles
  • Surface assemblies:  materials and textiles combined into one product, seams, baton strips that connect between surfaces
  • Location:  different departments focus on the types of surfaces being used 

Lybert says, “surface manufacturers don’t know what they don’t know when it comes to infection prevention strategies, processes and products.  Multiple products may be used, some of which may cause serious damage to surfaces”.  You can’t see many of the reservoirs.  After disinfection, microbial counts have been known to rebound pretty quickly.

Educating the environmental services staff is crucial.  They need to understand the different types of surfaces they are cleaning and if the disinfectant being used is compatible.  What they are using may be breaking down the surface and/or the seams are holding water that is embedded with pathogens.  Contamination will persist on the destroyed surfaces.  The staff may be trying to do a better job of cleaning but the infection rates aren’t going down.  It is because the surface material is not compatible with the disinfectant. 

Surfaces materials used, not just the disinfectant, are key in lowering the spread of infection.  Don’t always depend on the manufacturer of the surface to be up to date on infection control.  And, educate your environmental staff on how to clean each type of surface in your facility.  These issues must be addressed to ensure your surfaces are microbe free. 

Disinfectants and Surface Compatibility, Kelly M. Pyrek, Infection Control Today, April 2016