There’s a word on the street that microfibre combined with water is suitable for all cleaning challenges. But a study from Prof Jean-Yves Maillard’s lab in Cardiff suggests that water and microfibre alone achieves only a moderate removal of bacteria from surfaces and readily transfers bacteria between surfaces. Adding disinfectants to microfibre enhances their efficacy considerably.
The ‘Wiperator’ (a rig designed to test the efficacy of disinfectant wipes or cloths) was used for these laboratory tests. S. aureus, A. baumannii and C. difficile spores were dried onto metal and plastic coupons with and without simulated soiling. The test pieces were exposed to microfibre + water, microfibre + QAC disinfectant, and microfibre + peracetic acid-based sporicide (against the spores only). The microbial reduction from the treatment was calculated. In order to test the potential for transfer, the wipes were applied to a clean surface which was then swabbed for viable microbes.
Whilst microfibre + water resulted in a 2-log reduction on S. aureus and A. baumannii, and a 1-log reduction on the C. difficile spores, the microfibre + disinfectant resulted in a 4-5 log reduction. Perhaps even more importantly, the microfibre + water resulted in the transfer of 4-5 logs of viable bacteria or spores to the clean surfaces, whereas microfibre + disinfectant resulted in <1-log transfer of viable bacteria or spores to clean surfaces.
This study illustrates the limitations of microfibre + water for routine cleaning of the hospital environment, highlight the risk of transferring large amounts of important pathogens between surfaces. The study shows that microfibre combined with disinfectants result in a higher level of reduction in pathogens on surfaces, and are far more effective at interrupting the transfer of microbes between surfaces.
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