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Laundering temperatures, fabric denier and handling procedures all impact infection control efforts.
Cintas Corporation poses five important questions infection preventionists should ask their environmental services director about their facility's microfiber cleaning program. By asking these questions, infection prevention professionals will better understand the role of microfiber in the hospitals floor and surface cleaning program, and can help develop optimal cleaning protocols that reflect the need for proper infection prevention.
1. How are microfiber products washed? If microfiber products are washed with cotton materials, cotton fibers will infiltrate the microfiber limiting its ability to collect and retain the dangerous microbes it is intended to remove. The use of bleach is also important. While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the use of bleach to effectively remove bacteria and spores when cleaning microfiber, many microfiber products do not allow the use of bleach during the cleaning process.
2. At what temperature are microfiber products dried? To keep the integrity of the fibers intact, it is recommended to dry microfiber at a moderate temperature. Higher temperatures may be used to speed up the drying process, but could result in the melting or fusing of the fibers again inhibiting the effectiveness of the product in removing microbes.
3. What quality and size microfiber is being used? The smaller the microfiber, the more effective it will be in removing bacteria from environmental surfaces. Look for microfibers with a split polyester-polyamide filament that are less than .13 denier for maximum effectiveness in removing the smallest microorganisms
4. Are microfiber products used for cleaning all high touch surfaces throughout the hospital or just for mopping floors? A study by the UC Davis Health System found that switching from conventional loop mops to microfiber mops can reduce the presence of bacteria by as much as 99 percent. However, cross-contamination risk is exacerbated by improper cleaning of high-touch surfaces such as bed rails, over-bed tables and bedside cabinets. Wiping these high-touch surfaces with cotton or other non-microfiber materials could be ineffective.
5. What employee training programs are in place for using microfiber? The proper use of microfiber is paramount in maximizing infection control efforts. New employees should receive training on proper disinfection techniques before starting work. Current employees should receive ongoing training to ensure best practices are being used.
"While today most hospitals are using microfiber to clean their facility, many infection preventionists are not aware of how that microfiber is being used and cared for," said John Savage, director of marketing for healthcare at Cintas. "If microfiber is not properly maintained or used, it can actually spread infection. By working with the environmental services department, infection preventionists can maximize their infection control efforts and limit hospital-acquired infections."