Hygiene from the floor up

13 October 2017

As the fight against hospital acquired infections continues, the introduction of microfibre to floor cleaning is playing a vital part in stopping bacteria being spread from floors to high-touch areas. James Taylor, Chicopee’s marketing director for EMEIA (Specialities), explains more

Research has shown that hospital floors may pose more of an infection risk than had previously been thought – worrying, when statistics show that in Europe alone, hospital acquired infections (HAIs) already account for around 37,000 deaths every year.

A recent study by the American Journal of Infection Control found that bacteria on the floor of patient rooms and corridors was easily transferred to hands and high-touch surfaces when items come into contact with floors.

Researchers analysed samples from 318 sites in patient rooms in five different hospitals, then tested hands and high-touch surfaces such as call buttons, bed tables, linen, clothing, patients’ personal items and medical devices.

The research identified that despite items being thoroughly cleaned and disinfected, they are all at risk of contamination from bacteria, including staphylococcus aureus, or the MRSA virus, when they come into contact with the floor. 

While facilities may have strict hygiene procedures in place to clean surfaces like tables, sinks and bed rails, the same regimes are not necessarily applied to the floor. Despite the fact that floors can be heavily contaminated, often limited attention is paid to their disinfection as they are not frequently touched by hand.

However, this type of gap in prevention must be addressed to ensure hospitals deliver the strictest possible infection control. 

A technological solution

Many facilities managers, looking to improve hygiene practices while remaining within budget, are choosing microfibre cleaning cloths for sensitive areas such as patient rooms. 

Traditional woven cloths have been found to retain bacteria such as the E.Coli virus even after they have been washed; by contrast, the highest quality microfibre cloths will pick up 99.99% of microbes from surfaces, trapping bacteria within the fibres of the cloth until it is rinsed in hot water or discarded. 

This eliminates the risk of cross-contamination – unlike traditional cloths, which can spread up to one third of bacteria on to the next surface to be cleaned – as disposable microfibre cloths are simply thrown away after use, saving time and money on a somewhat ineffective laundry process.

Sharing technology

The same technology is now being applied to floorcare. A build-up of dirt and dust is inevitable on every kind of floor; however, in healthcare facilities, this can also include potentially harmful viruses. At best, a dirty floor looks unattractive and gives a bad first impression; at worst, it can harbour viruses that are spread onto high-touch items when they come into contact with the floor.

Electronic cleaning machinery may be too noisy or cumbersome to be used in busy public areas, such as hospital corridors and waiting rooms. Wet-mopping floors can take up to 10 minutes to dry fully, putting patients, staff and visitors at risk of accidental slips and falls, while the danger of cross-contamination persists even after laundry.

The introduction of short-term use microfibre mops, which are able to pick up and trap bacteria, is a useful weapon in the fight against infection. However, some disposable products feel very thin and flat, while washable microfibre pads may still retain bacteria even after being laundered.

The latest mopping tools, designed only for use with disposable mops, offer both a soft foam base and specifically angled base to allow dirt and debris to be trapped in the centre of the mop.

Disposable certainly does not mean inferior. Designed to match the results achieved by traditional mopping systems, the latest generation of microfibre products will deliver the same durability and cleaning performance with the significant bonus of a bacterial removal rate of 99.99%. 

The Chicopee Fluid Mopping System is designed exclusively for use with microfibre mops. The mopping tool incorporates a refillable reservoir while the mops themselves are available in three variations, the Microfibre Floor Mop Super, Light and Economy.