Understanding the Role of Healthcare Cleaning in Infection Prevention

Understanding the Role of Healthcare Cleaning in Infection Prevention

In the battle against hospital-acquired infections, the frontline defense often begins with the unsung heroes of healthcare – the cleaning staff.

Understanding the Role of Healthcare Cleaning in Infection Prevention


In healthcare settings, the prevalence of hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) poses a significant threat to patient safety and overall health outcomes.

Effective infection prevention is crucial in these environments and heavily relies on stringent healthcare cleaning protocols.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) emphasizes the importance of thorough cleaning and disinfection practices in healthcare facilities to reduce the risk of HAIs (CDC, 2020a).

These infections compromise patient health, lead to increased healthcare costs, and impact the facility's reputation.

Consequently, understanding and implementing best practices in healthcare cleaning is not just a matter of maintenance; it's a critical aspect of patient care and infection control.

This importance is further underscored by studies highlighting the direct correlation between environmental cleanliness and reduced infection rates (Dancer, 2019).


The Impact of Hospital-Acquired Infections

Hospital-acquired infections (HAIs) are infections that patients acquire during their stay in healthcare facilities, which were not present or incubating at the time of admission.

HAIs can be caused by a wide range of pathogens, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), hundreds of millions of patients globally are affected by HAIs each year, significantly impacting patient morbidity and mortality rates (World Health Organization, 2020).

These infections also impose a substantial economic burden on healthcare systems.

The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) reports that HAIs can result in prolonged hospital stays, additional diagnostic and therapeutic interventions, and increased resistance to antimicrobials (AHRQ, 2020).

Moreover, HAIs are often preventable, making the role of effective cleaning and disinfection strategies in healthcare settings all the more critical.


Essential Cleaning Protocols in Healthcare Facilities

Effective cleaning and disinfection protocols are essential in healthcare facilities to prevent the spread of HAIs.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) outlines specific guidelines for environmental cleaning and the disinfection of surfaces in healthcare settings (CDC, 2020b).

These guidelines recommend a two-step process: cleaning, followed by disinfection.

Cleaning involves the removal of organic matter and soils from surfaces, which is crucial since these materials can protect pathogens and reduce the efficacy of disinfectants.

Following cleaning, the application of an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered disinfectant ensures the elimination of remaining pathogens.

The Joint Commission also emphasizes the importance of training healthcare staff in these protocols and ensuring adherence to them as part of an effective infection prevention strategy (The Joint Commission, 2020).

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) further highlights the need for personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff involved in cleaning and disinfection to protect them from exposure to harmful pathogens and chemicals (OSHA, 2020).

This comprehensive approach to cleaning and disinfection in healthcare settings plays a pivotal role in breaking the chain of infection and safeguarding both patient and staff health.


The Role of Outsourced Janitorial Services in Enhancing Healthcare Cleaning Standards

Outsourcing janitorial services to specialized companies can significantly enhance the standard of cleaning in healthcare facilities.

These companies often bring a higher level of expertise and access to advanced cleaning technologies and products that might not be available in-house.

They are typically up-to-date with the latest guidelines from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and other regulatory bodies, ensuring compliance with the most current infection prevention standards (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 2020).

Furthermore, outsourced janitorial services can offer tailored cleaning programs based on the unique needs of each healthcare facility, ranging from general cleaning to more specialized tasks like operating room sanitization.

This customization ensures that all areas of the facility receive the appropriate level of cleaning and disinfection, which is crucial for preventing HAIs.

Moreover, outsourcing these services allows healthcare facilities to focus more on patient care, as they can rely on the expertise of these specialized cleaning companies to maintain a clean and safe environment.


Challenges in Healthcare Cleaning and Infection Control

Despite the best efforts, healthcare facilities face several challenges in maintaining optimal cleaning standards to prevent HAIs.

One of the primary challenges is the complexity of healthcare environments, which include a variety of surfaces and equipment that require different cleaning methods and agents (CDC, 2020a).

Additionally, the emergence of multi-drug resistant organisms (MDROs) presents a significant challenge, as these pathogens are more difficult to eliminate and require stringent cleaning protocols (National Center for Biotechnology Information [NCBI], 2020).

Another challenge is ensuring consistent adherence to cleaning protocols by all staff members. Variability in cleaning practices can lead to inconsistent disinfection levels, increasing the risk of HAIs.

The training and monitoring of cleaning staff are crucial to overcoming this challenge, as emphasized by the Joint Commission's standards on infection prevention and control (The Joint Commission, 2020).

Finally, balancing effective infection control with the safety of cleaning products is essential.

Some disinfectants can be harmful to staff or patients if not used correctly, necessitating the careful selection and use of these products (Occupational Safety and Health Administration [OSHA], 2020).


Integrating Advanced Technologies in Healthcare Cleaning

Advancements in cleaning technology have brought new tools and methods to the forefront of infection control in healthcare settings.

Ultraviolet (UV) light disinfection systems, for example, have become increasingly popular for their ability to eliminate pathogens on surfaces and in the air without the use of chemicals (National Center for Biotechnology Information [NCBI], 2020).

These systems can be particularly effective in critical areas such as operating rooms and intensive care units.

Robotics and automated cleaning systems are also gaining traction.

These systems can provide more consistent and thorough cleaning compared to manual methods, especially in hard-to-reach areas.

Moreover, the use of automated systems can reduce the risk of cross-contamination and exposure of cleaning staff to harmful pathogens and chemicals (Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality [AHRQ], 2020).

Another innovative approach is the use of microfiber materials for cleaning cloths and mops.

Microfiber's fine threads are more effective in trapping dirt, dust, and microbes compared to traditional cleaning materials, enhancing the overall efficiency of the cleaning process (CDC, 2020b).

Incorporating these technologies into a healthcare facility's cleaning protocol can significantly improve the effectiveness of infection prevention efforts and contribute to a safer environment for both patients and staff.


Top 10 Best Practices for Healthcare Cleaning and Infection Prevention

  1. Regular Training for Cleaning Staff: Ensuring that all cleaning personnel are regularly trained on the latest cleaning techniques and infection control protocols is essential (CDC, 2020a).
  2. Use of Approved Disinfectants: Selecting and using EPA-approved disinfectants for healthcare environments helps ensure the effective elimination of pathogens (CMS, 2020).
  3. Frequent Cleaning of High-Touch Surfaces: Regularly disinfecting high-touch areas like door handles, light switches, and medical equipment reduces the risk of HAI transmission (CDC, 2020b).
  4. Implementing Hand Hygiene Protocols: Promoting and enforcing hand hygiene among staff, patients, and visitors is crucial in preventing the spread of infections (World Health Organization [WHO], 2020).
  5. Adopting Color-Coded Cleaning Systems: Using color-coded cloths and mops can prevent cross-contamination between different areas of the facility (CDC, 2020a).
  6. Utilizing Advanced Cleaning Technologies: Integrating UV light disinfection systems and robotic cleaners can enhance cleaning efficiency and effectiveness (NCBI, 2020).
  7. Monitoring and Auditing Cleaning Processes: Regular audits and monitoring of cleaning practices ensure adherence to protocols and identify areas for improvement (The Joint Commission, 2020).
  8. Proper Waste Management: Safely disposing of medical and hazardous waste reduces the risk of environmental contamination (OSHA, 2020).
  9. Customizing Cleaning Protocols for Different Areas: Tailoring cleaning methods to suit various areas like patient rooms, operating theaters, and public spaces is important for effective infection control (AHRQ, 2020).
  10. Engaging Staff in Infection Prevention: Encouraging all healthcare staff to be proactive in infection prevention efforts creates a culture of safety and responsibility (WHO, 2020).



  1. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020a). Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations. Retrieved from CDC Cleaning Procedures
  2. Dancer, S. J. (2019). The role of environmental cleaning in the control of hospital-acquired infection. Journal of Hospital Infection, 73(4), 378-385. Retrieved from NCBI
  3. World Health Organization. (2020). Healthcare-associated infections fact sheet. Retrieved from WHO Infection Prevention Control
  4. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (2020). Toolkit for Reducing Catheter-Associated Urinary Tract Infections in Hospital Units: Implementation Guide. Retrieved from AHRQ CAUTI Toolkit
  5. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020b). Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities. Retrieved from CDC Environmental Surfaces
  6. The Joint Commission. (2020). Infection Prevention and Control. Retrieved from Joint Commission Resources
  7. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (2020). COVID-19 - Control and Prevention: Healthcare Workers and Employers. Retrieved from OSHA Coronavirus Control Prevention
  8. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2020). CMS issues new wave of infection control guidance based on CDC guidelines to protect patients and healthcare workers from COVID-19. Retrieved from CMS Newsroom
  9. National Center for Biotechnology Information. (2020). Hospital Environmental Hygiene: Challenges and Realities. Retrieved from NCBI Article
  10. National Center for Biotechnology Information. (2020). Emerging Technologies for Environmental Cleaning in Healthcare. Retrieved from NCBI Article
  11. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. (2020). CAUTI Long-Term Care: Infection Preventionist's Guide to Long-Term Care. Retrieved from AHRQ CAUTI LTC Guide
  12. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020b). Guidelines for Environmental Infection Control in Health-Care Facilities. Retrieved from CDC Surface Guidelines



The importance of effective healthcare cleaning in preventing hospital-acquired infections cannot be overstated.

Adopting best practices, leveraging advanced technologies, and ensuring consistent adherence to protocols are crucial steps in safeguarding the health of patients and healthcare workers alike.

As healthcare facilities continuously strive to enhance their infection prevention measures, the role of professional janitorial services becomes increasingly significant.

For business owners and facilities managers, particularly in the Ozarks region, considering outsourced janitorial services specialized in healthcare settings can be a strategic move.

Outsourcing not only ensures adherence to the highest standards of cleanliness and infection control but also allows healthcare providers to focus on their primary responsibility – patient care.

If you are in the process of evaluating your healthcare facility's cleaning and infection prevention strategies, we invite you to explore our comprehensive janitorial services.

Our team is equipped with the expertise and technology to meet the unique needs of healthcare environments, contributing to a safer and healthier space for everyone.

Embrace the next step in ensuring a hygienic, safe, and efficient healthcare environment by contacting us today for a consultation.

Vanguard Cleaning Systems® of the Ozarks' franchise-owned custodial service provider business cleans more than 8M sq. ft. weekly, maintaining an industry topping 95+% of its customer base, year-over-year, and boasting more than 60 5-star Google reviews.

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Vanguard Cleaning Systems of the Ozarks.

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