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Microfibre technology squares up to HAIs

15 October 2015

James Taylor, director of product marketing at Chicopee, explains how the latest microfibre technology is setting new standards in cleaning protocols, and becoming a critical component in the battle against Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAIs)

Inadequate hygiene is well known to be one of the main causes of Healthcare Acquired Infections (HAIs) in hospitals, with an estimated four million cases reported annually in Europe alone, according to figures from the World Health Organisation (WHO). Of these, 37,000 cases are fatal. HAIs result in an extra 16 million extra days spent in hospital each year (an average of four extra days per patient with HAI), and the indirect financial losses are estimated to be €7 billion per year.

The good news is that even the lowest estimates predict that at least 20% of HAIs are preventable by implementing a coordinated and tightly controlled cleaning system using well-chosen and effective solutions. Choosing the most effective cleaning materials is crucial to achieving successful hospital cleaning protocols. 


Microfibre is the material of choice, according to the NHS National Patient Safety Agency’s (NPSA) ‘Revised Healthcare Cleaning Manual’, which recognises that microfibre mops and cloths enable the efficient removal of microscopic particles.

The NPSA manual reports that many hospitals using microfibre cloths have noticed that the time taken to perform cleaning tasks has reduced, and that the introduction of microfibre has been followed by improvements in measured cleaning scores when used in accordance with manufacturers’ directions. When choosing a microfibre cloth, it should be ensured that it is high grade 100% microfibre to guarantee the best cleaning results possible, as some cloths contain as little as 20% microfibres, which dilutes the cleaning effect.


New technology

Proprietary technology developed by Avintiv, a global producer of specialty materials used in infection prevention, has further improved on the traditional woven microfibre cloth used by most cleaners. The company has developed a material that provides 99.99% bacteria removal from surfaces, yet is lightweight enough to be disposed of after short-term use. 


Constantly in search of ways to reduce the risk of cross contamination and improve infection prevention, a solution was needed that removed the risks associated with laundering cloths. The result is a new material that was developed following feedback received from users in the market, who wanted to reduce risk of cross contamination, but also be able to save time and materials in their cleaning systems. 

Utilising Avintiv’s patented APEX technology a range of microfibre products, that not only provide impressive cleaning performance, but are also lightweight and do not require laundering, were developed. 

The technology creates fibres that are 80% finer than standard microfibres, resulting in a more efficient and effective cleaning cloth. As a result, dirt, dust and bacteria are easily picked up and trapped within the cloth until it is rinsed. The new material has been independently tested to demonstrate 99.99% removal of bacteria from surfaces, transferring 0% to a second surface.  

Making sure the cloth is used correctly is important and the NPSA Cleaning Manual recommends turning and folding it during cleaning to expose a new surface area as the task progresses, using one cloth for an area no larger than half of a six-bedded patient bay. 


Laundering practices 'insufficient'

Disposable cloths are advised in healthcare settings. A study published in the American Journal of Infection Control found that typical laundering practices were insufficient for removing potentially harmful bacteria from reusable cloths, with 93% of the old-style cloths commonly used to clean hospital rooms, tested after laundering, still containing pathogens that could trigger HAIs. 

Using a disposable cloth such as Chicopee’s Microfibre Light, which has the same cleaning ability as traditional microfibre cloths, can contribute significantly to eradicating the risk of cross contamination on hospital wards. Each of these cloths come with on sheet visual instructions recommending the short term use and then disposal of the cloth. These same pictograms also provide colour coding for the different products, helping to reduce the risk of cross-contamination in critical areas.

When hygiene and cleanliness are of the utmost importance, using innovative solutions that further harness the mechanical cleaning power of microfibre will help make light work of critical wiping tasks, and promote a healthy, contamination-free environment. All these factors combine to help in the ongoing struggle to reduce the 20% of HAIs that are preventable today.