Cleaning with warm water and detergent is a process that removes visual dirt and contamination and in most cases is effective for decontaminating both equipment and the environment.
However in certain situations e.g. during an outbreak, increased incidence of infection or in the case of Clostridium difficile infection, surfaces and equipment require both cleaning and disinfection.
Disinfection is a process that reduces the number of microorganisms to a level at which they do not present a risk to patients or clients. It is only effective if surfaces and equipment have been cleaned thoroughly with detergent and water beforehand. Warm water and detergent should be used to clean hard surfaces followed by disinfection with 1000ppm (0.1%) chlorine releasing agent/hypochlorite solution or chlorine dioxide solution (diluted, and with a contact time, as per manufactures’ instructions). The specific disinfectant to be used will be specified in the local cleaning/disinfection policy or procedure. The hypochlorite or chlorine dioxide solution will kill both bacteria and viruses provided it is used as per manufactures’ instructions. Hypochlorite solutions are corrosive and it is recommended that the solution is rinsed off commodes, mattresses and stainless steel surfaces with warm water at the end of the process. Some chlorine dioxide solutions do not need to be rinsed off.