Seems as if every few months there is another “germiest places” list. The lists are popular, and often capture a few minutes on the morning news. But what is the real importance of this germ information?
GERMS ARE EVERYWHERE
Is it significant that when you set your purse down in a restroom it picks up germs? Or that your kitchen sink could be more germy than the seat on your home toilet? Well, probably only if there is a practical application. The upshot of most modern studies is that germs are everywhere and some, perhaps many, are essential to how humans function.
For example, one of the conditions that makes C. difficile (a pathogen, or germ harmful to people, that causes gastric illness) more likely to infect someone is if long-term use of antibiotics have nearly cleared their intestines of the normal mix of flora. Creepy as it seems, many of the microscopic critters that live on us and in us are essential to our operation.
CLEANING FOR HEALTH
If you adjust the focus from identifying how many places are germy to what surfaces and mediums carry germs and allergens that are significant threats, then you are well on your way to a program of “cleaning for health.” If you look for the places where infectious germs transfer from one person to another, you will find that surfaces or mechanical carriers (called fomites) often play a role. Examples:
- the curtain in an ER room
- the door knobs in a building
- the check-out conveyor where products are laid in a store
- the hot sink handle in a restroom
- desks in a school
- the flush handle on a toilet
- dust-laden air in a building
- bulk soap dispensers (one of the more recent germiest places)
Because many persons come in contact with certain shared surfaces, in a process called cross-contamination, then influenza, colds, hospital bugs and other diseases can be transferred in this way. Cleaning and disinfecting those surfaces can make a difference to health, absenteeism can be reduced and asthma and allergies can be partially relieved.
PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS WHEN THINKING “GERMIEST PLACES”
Here are a few practical suggestions:
- Think through the top 15 or 20 most common contact surfaces in your building.
- Change your cleaning and disinfection regimen year-round to include those touch points.
- Cut back in areas that cleaning is being done routinely, but pays lesser dividends.
- Investigate low-toxicity, longer acting disinfection methods for those surfaces.
- Look into high-efficiency systems that allow for quickly cleaning and disinfecting.
- Automate flush and water valves for touch-free operation
- Replace bulk soap dispensers with touchless designs
- Prefer touch-free towel distribution and mostly enclosed tissue dispensing
- Prefer HEPA multi-stage filtration in vacuuming. (Look for higher CRI ratings on vacuums.)
- Vacuum often. Vacuum traffic lanes most often.
- Stop soil, which turns to dust which becomes airborne, at the entry with 30’, 3-stage mat systems.
- Clean those systems in place at least daily.
What germiest places are important in your facility to health and how are you treating them to clean for health? Our blog is open for your comments and viewpoints.