Spray bottles - a Trojan horse?

9th of December 2019
Spray bottles - a Trojan horse?

From the Netherlands, John Griep at VSR reports on some new research about the hygiene of spray bottles holding cleaning solution.

Cleaning professionals get things clean. Or don’t they? Apparently, it’s not that simple. Indeed, with the arrival of smartphones and the use of tablets in healthcare settings, awareness has grown of bacteria and microorganisms on such devices.  A policy is needed.

However, this goes beyond smartphones. After all, as demonstrated by research at VSR, cleaning material - such as spray bottles - can also be a potential source of contamination. This is what a past inspector from the Healthcare Inspection had to say about it in 2016: “(…) concentrated products are diluted. The solution is stored in reusable spray bottles. Generally there is no guaranteed method to clean and dry the spray bottles. After all, how do all those tubes and pistols fit together on such bottles? There has been no research (…)”

This was why VSR decided to conduct some research into hygiene relating to spray bottles.
The initial aim was to get an idea of whether spray bottles used in professional cleaning suffer microbial contamination. Should this be the case, we also wanted to know whether the organisms were found freely in the (remaining) liquid in the spray bottles (free germs) or (also) in any biofilm present (attached germs). Finally, VSR wished to establish if rinsing with a disinfectant would eliminate infection already present.

Our researchers assumed that spray bottles could be contaminated in three different ways: by germs on external contact surfaces, by free germs inside and/or by germs attached to the inside (biofilm).
Research demonstrates that the cleaning fluid in used refillable spray bottles can be contaminated with microbes. Of the 61 spray bottles investigated in this study, 44 were found to contain germs.
Furthermore, the spray bottles contained both free and attached germs.
Finally, it was demonstrated that, after hygienic treatment following infection-prevention guidelines, fewer attached germs were present than in untreated spray bottles. We do point out the number of spray bottles investigated was too small for statistical justification of this effect.

Conclusion: while more detailed studies will provide more evidence, we do recommend hygienic treatment of spray bottles.

Tips for smartphone hygiene:

• Hold the telephone with clean hands. Remove gloves before answering the telephone; your hands are probably cleaner than your gloves.

• Clean the telephone after leaving the client zone.

• Never return a telephone directly to your pocket or bag, be sure to clean it first.

• Do not take a telephone or tablet with you into the room of a client where additional infection measures apply, such as contamination with the norovirus, MRSA or so-called superbugs.

• When you have finished your duty, disinfect your smartphone or tablet or give it a good clean.

• Clean your smartphone or tablet with a pre-impregnated cloth or use screen wipes.

• Protect your telephone with film or a case so that you are not required to clean the telephone itself.


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