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We have Mail: What is Clean 2
Stephan sent an email direct to Rafael, who has forwarded his reply to us:
Many thanks for your reply in which you have rightly pinpointed the main problem of defining 'What is Clean?', 'What is visibly clean?'. We know that this term is highly subjective and therefore open to interpretation.
My main point was to remove all visible soiling - that is soiling within the resolution of the eye - from any surface before disinfection can begin, and this determination should be taught to the cleaning staff. Of course, this assessment largely depends on the criticality of the surfaces being cleaned: It is unrealistic to visibly clean a passageway floor to the same degree as a hospital bed-frame, for example.
That being said, both of these situations present different potential routes for infection.
As you can imagine, the level and composition of soiling on surfaces can vary wildly, with the potential risk to health dependant on these factors as well as many others.
Faced with a cleaning/disinfecting problem, the cleaning staff need to understand that cleaning is to be carried out in a systematic and consistent way.
ATP testers are great devices. Like you said, they are prone to interference from organic matter (all living cells, not just bacteria, produce ATP), but they are quick and very sensitive. Other methods could include florescence dyes in the cleaning solution. The accuracy of these methods, and the many others, relies on a systematic and consistent routine - cleaning should follow the same.
I am a great fan of microfibre, it is a wonderful material and its efficacy in removing soiling down to a micro level (including spores) has been well established. I have seen blatant misuse of microfibre cloths and floor pads over the years - all attributable to a lack of training. Microfibres owe their unique ability to adsorb soiling and liquids in greater amounts due to capillary action (liquid) or charge attraction (dry), however this is disrupted through the use of detergents that significantly lower the surface tension of water (wetting). So, by matching microfibres to the correct detergent, you have the start of a wonderful cleaning system which is more effective at removing visible and sub-visible soiling.
As you know, this subject is enormous and in my article I had to keep the word count down, so I couldn't cover every aspect.
Again, many thanks for your time in responding to my original letter.
Rafael Cobos AMIMarEST
T: (01946) 810867
5th April 2012