It’s amazing how quickly 2011 flew by, but more amazing to Lee and I was the response we have gotten to the Talk Clean To Me Blog. Since the launch in June there have been over 7000 page views which equates to an average of 1000 people per month reading (or at least looking) at our blog! Thank you to everyone who has read, shared and commented on our blogs and a big Thank You to our 2011 Guest Bloggers!
For our last blog of the year Lee and I wanted to have some fun by creating a spinoff of David’s Letterman’s Top 10, here is The Clean Freak’s Top 10 Offender List for the Misuse and Abuse of disinfectants:
The Granola Bunch: The advocates who believe that all chemicals are bad and should be banned regardless of their need from an infection control perspective. Now don’t get me wrong – I believe that we need to use chemicals judiciously. Antibacterial hand soaps are not needed for the general public or at home – just use plain soap and water. Nor do disinfectants need to be used everywhere or on everything. There are, however, areas that require the use of disinfectants and cucumber juice, essential oils or other seemingly benign chemicals that claim to have killing properties do not provide the level of efficacy (protection) that are needed. You can however, chose products that use safer, more environmentally friendly chemistries. In Canada you can find certified green disinfectants through the EcoLogo program and in the US, through the Design for Environment program in the near future there will be certified green alternatives available. The key is to choose a product that provides a balance between its safety (personal and environmental) and efficacy (it can kill what it needs to).
The One for All Army: In efforts to streamline our chemical purchases or simplify training programs many managers are looking for the silver bullet – that product that does everything from glass and floor cleaning to hospital grade disinfection and still make the surfaces look shiny! Like different grades of gas or types of flour and sugar, each product has its reason for being and using ONE product for everything can lead to sticky and not so shiny surfaces, but more importantly have us using disinfectants on surfaces that do not need to be disinfected! There is a concern that over use of disinfectants can lead to chemical resistance. In a society where we are losing our ability to cure disease because of antibiotic resistance, we cannot risk the development of chemical resistance. If infection control principles do not mandate the use of a disinfectant, don’t use one!
The Shiny Surface Syndicate: If it’s shiny it must be clean (and free of germs)! For some, the Syndicates’ obsession with shiny surfaces leads them to abandon infection control principles in search of the product, Spic & Span and Windex are two of the most commonly use culprits, that leaves the surfaces all sparkly. The upside, is that staff / patients / residents believe the environment is safe because it is so shiny. The downside, is that Windex, Spic & Span or whatever product has been used puts these people at risk for transmitting and acquiring deadly germs.
The Glug-Glug Gang: I don’t need to use a dilution system, I know how much to add just be eyeballing! To be fair, the Glug-Glug Gang can be a result of not having access to dilution systems or not having dilution systems in convenient locations. Either way, the end result is improperly diluted product meaning we are not meeting the infection control standards we need to. Even better, they are known to glug more product into the mop bucket after cleaning 6 rooms so it “cleans” better rather than dumping the dirty solution out and getting some fresh stuff!
The Top-Off Artists: Have you ever had a situation where you’ve checked your dilution systems, they are working properly, but when you test the bottles of diluted product the concentration is off? Of course, this doesn’t come to light until an important audit and you now have a negative citation you have to investigate and provide a reason for. You may have Top-Off Artists in your midst. This efficient group of staff likes to see their bottles full and not half empty….so they “top up” their bottles during the day and at the end of each shift. The end result is a bottle that does not have the right concentration of disinfectant because new product has been mixed with old.
The Scent Seekers: Unfortunately, we live in a society where we believe pretty smells equate to clean and don’t always understand or associate the health risks that come with using highly fragranced products. Most healthcare facilities are becoming fragrance free – no perfumes, no air deodorizers and no pretty smelling cleaning products. The problem is that our cleaning staff likes to smell something to “prove” they have cleaned and secretly add liquid deodorizers to the scent free disinfectants they are using. The result is the room may smell nice, but the deodorizer they added may have neutralized the disinfectant so that it has lost its killing potency or in some cases, where people have added bleach (some people, love the smell!) they may have created some toxic fumes with deadly consequences.
The More is Better Bandit: Oh the stories we can share on this! Unlike the Glug-Glug Gang, who think they can dilute correctly without measuring, the More is Better Bandit believes it if works at the right dilution it will work EVEN BETTER if I add more! The More is Better Bandit runs rampant during pandemics and outbreaks (especially if we are dealing with a new bug) believing that even if they have been told the disinfectant works at a specific dilution and contact time that he or she can ensure they annihilate the pesky pathogen by adding more. The result often ends in Occupational Health complaints and/or degradation of surfaces being disinfected by using a product that is too concentrated.
The Instruction Ignorers: Most often men (its true! How many men do you know that ask for directions?), the Instruction Ignorers believe that labels are meant for others to read so will use a disinfectant in the way they THINK it should be used and not how it was INTENDED to be used. Examples include trying to dilute ready-to-use products meant for spraying on high touch surfaces into a bucket to clean floors (also known as a Glug-Glug Deviant), using disinfectants meant for disinfecting or chemically sterilizing surgical instruments on surfaces (a subspecies of the One for All Army) and my all time favorite if it’s a wipe, it must be okay to use for personal hygiene or as a diaper wipe! There are reasons labels exist so READ THEM and most importantly follow the directions!
The Custodial Chemist: Probably my favorite group. This group believes that their collective years as professional cleaners is far more knowledgeable then formulating chemists who have years of higher education and develop the products the Custodial Chemist use. The Custodial Chemist is someone who mixes products together in the belief they are making a better product (or simplifying their job). Why use a degreaser or glass cleaner followed by a disinfectant when you can mix them together and create a degreaser-disinfectant or the best disinfectant glass cleaner on the market!
AND THE NUMBER 1 OFFENCE!
The Sink or Swim Squad: Whether you call it training, instructing or educating it all comes down to the fact that we CANNOT expect our staff to know how to correctly use the products and tools to do their jobs unless we TEACH them how to use them. In fact, if you go back and re-read the other Top 9 examples of misuse and abuse of disinfectants they all come down to the fact that if we teach everyone the where’s, what’s, why’s and how’s to using disinfectants and cleaning chemicals we won’t have any stories of how we have seen them used and abused.
I hope your top priority for 2012 is to educate your staff, friends and even family on how to correctly use cleaning and disinfectant products.
Happy Holidays to all from Lee and I!