How can you “clean” with dirty tools?

How can you "clean" with dirty tools?

Recently, I returned from an out of town trip.  While walking through the airport terminal, I had to find a rest room; quickly!  This bucket of mopping solution was sitting just outside the rest room entrance.  No custodian was around, so I shot a picture of his mop water.  Yes, that is BLACK water.  Then, later, I saw a maid’s cart that obviously had not been cleaned and disinfected in a long time.  It was gross looking.

Had the custodian who was assigned the task of cleaning the Men’s Room had been there, I would have asked, “How can you ‘clean’ with dirty mops and dirty water?”

Here are some tips on minimizing contamination while cleaning.

  • Start each shift with clean equipment (cart, buckets, wringers, mop heads, wipers, handles, etc.)
  • Bucket solutions become contaminated almost immediately during cleaning, and continued use of the solution transfers increasing numbers of microorganisms to each subsequent surface to be cleaned.  Never return a soiled wiper, cloth or mop to clean solution.
  • If double dipping is allowed in your operation, cleaning solutions should be replaced frequently.  A variety of “bucket” methods have been devised to address the frequency with which cleaning solutions are replaced.
  • To prevent water from being contaminated, practice “single dipping.”  That is, set up the bucket with clean detergent or disinfectant.  Then add clean wipers, cloths or mops.  A soiled (or used) wiper, cloth or mop is NEVER returned to the clean solution.  NO DOUBLE DIPPING.
  • Another source of contamination in the cleaning process is the cleaning cloth or mop head, especially if left soaking in dirty cleaning solutions.
  • Laundering of cloths and mop heads after use and allowing them to dry before re-use can help to minimize the degree of contamination.  A simplified approach to cleaning involves replacing soiled cloths and mop heads with clean items each time a bucket of detergent/disinfectant is emptied and replaced with fresh, clean solution.
  • All soiled wipers, cloths and mops need to be removed from the Custodial Closet at the end of the shift and left for laundering.
  • At the end of the work shift, time should be allotted to staff to clean the cart, buckets and wringers along with each mop handle.  Be sure to wipe dry all buckets; don’t allow water to remain in the bottom of the bucket to “grow bugs.”

In order to perform the cleaning and disinfection tasks necessary for environmental hygiene, clean tools and solutions are essential.




About Darrel Hicks

J. Darrel Hicks, B.A., is the author of Wiley Publishing's "Infection Prevention For Dummies", and is nationally recognized as one of the top experts in infection control. Darrel Hicks is also the Past President of the IEHA and is an active member in AHE where he holds the designation of CHESP. View all posts by Darrel Hicks

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