Virox Insights Blog

The Infection Prevention Army Dispels Disinfection Myths

Posted by Olivia Lattimore on Thu, May 25, 2017 @ 10:24 AM

 

 

The battle has begun......

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This is a tale of the Microbe Milita. Who doesn’t love a good fairy tale? I am sure you know the ones where the prince and princess fall in love, live happily ever after and there is ALWAYS a happy ending. But have you heard the tale of the Microbe Militia? Unfortunately, this story doesn’t always have a happy ending. The Microbe Militia invades hands, surfaces, and devices, spreading falsehoods about disinfectants which leads to adverse outcomes such as disease and even death. Thankfully the Infection Prevention army can expose these disinfection myths to reduce the Microbe Militia’s stronghold and get that happy ending patients and clients deserve.

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Cleaning and disinfecting are the same thing

Not true. Cleaning uses detergents and surfactants to break up soils (visible or not) on surfaces. Disinfectants kill or inactivate microorganisms and pathogens in various ways, depending upon the disinfectant used. Some penetrate the outer layer of a pathogen’s cells, which weakens it. Other sort of blow the cell apart, almost like a bomb.

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All disinfectants are created equal and can be used in the same way.

Not even close.

In the United States and Canada, you’ll find thousands of registered disinfectant products for sale, and there are several variations between them. Among the six most common chemistries used for disinfection, especially in healthcare settings, you’ll find vast differences in spectrum of efficacy, concentrations, contact times, label language, and personal protection needed for proper usage. In addition, many disinfectants require you to clean a surface or device first with a product containing detergents before you can use a disinfectant on the surface.

 

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Cleaning and disinfection is not my job

In any healthcare setting, infection control strategies must be part of everyone’s job even if they don’t do the cleaning itself. Everyone is encouraged to frequently practice hand hygiene, especially after contact with a patient or items in their environment. Cleaning, disinfection, and hand hygiene are an important part of maintaining a safe and functional healthcare facility.

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If a disinfectant kills most germs, it must be toxic

Historically, this was true. In the past 10-15 years, however, companies have been working to bring safer and more environmentally sustainable disinfectants to market.

If you’re using an older disinfectant product (such as bleach or phenols, for example), be sure to provide training on protocols for safe use. Safety Data Sheets (SDS) are your best resource to learn about the toxicity and risks associated with using the product. See Section 2 and Section 11 on the SDS for details. Some products do indeed contain chemicals that are known carcinogens, known respiratory irritants (causing occupational asthma or chemical pneumonia), known skin sensitizers, known to release volatile organic compounds (leading to poor air quality), or known to contain nonylphenol ethoxylates (hormone-mimicking agents that can act as endocrine disruptors in the body).

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Antibacterial soaps are more effective than regular soaps

Again, not true. Studies have shown that antibacterial soaps are no more effective against germs than regular soap. In fact, many active ingredients used in antibacterial soaps, such as triclosan, not only have negative health effects, but they have been shown to cause antibacterial resistance. 

Now that you know the top 5 disinfection myths, spread the word (i.e. share, like, and forward to your friends and co-workers) to ensure we prevail over the Microbe Militia, because you know what they say, knowledge is power. While exposing disinfection myths is part of the Infection Control Army’s strategy to defeat the Microbe Militia, planet earth is in desperate need of a disinfectant super hero who is able to battle and defend on all three essential battle grounds: hands, surfaces, and devices. Who will come to the rescue?

Stay tuned… 

Insightfully yours,

 

 

Olivia Lattimore

 

Topics: disinfection, Health Standards

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  • Insights--Blog.jpgOlivia is a passionate member of the Professional and Technical Services (PTS) team and is dedicated to educating readers on the importance of Infection Prevention and Control..