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Kimberly Osborne
October 10, 2017

Common Disinfection Mistakes


There is more to using a disinfectant than just spray and wipe. In the “Debunking Disinfection Myths” blog, we covered some of the disinfection myths. Now it’s time to discuss some of the most common mistakes that occur in facilities, and what you can do to ensure those mistakes are resolved. Disinfection mistakes are usually from a combination of factors – either lack of training, safety concerns which decreases compliance, or not reading labels.



#1 Eyeballing disinfectant solution mixtures


Always follow label instructions for dilution and use of a disinfectant. Measure everything! The common tendency is to go light on the disinfectant, either due to incorrect measurements or an attempt to save money by using less product. Both strategies can lead to a disinfectant solution that is too weak to work properly. Your facility can ensure proper mixing by providing a pump that can dispense the product easily, or a full dilution system that will do the mixing for you!



#2 Failing to reach designated contact time


In other words, the surface being cleaned does not stay wet with the in-use solution disinfectant for the full length of time required for efficacy. Ensure staff members are aware of the contact time for the product being used.



#3 Spraying a surface and then wiping it with a dry cloth

Contact times for disinfectants mean how long the surface needs to remain wet with the disinfectant to achieve efficacy. If you wet a surface down via spray bottle and immediately wipe the surface dry, it won’t be effective. No disinfectant kills on contact! This is something we are used to even in our own homes, it’s all about training out a new behaviour. Always read the product label for the appropriate contact time, and make sure staff are allowing that contact time to be reached and then wiping the surface down, or allowing the surface to air-dry.



#4 Not knowing the shelf-life of the diluted disinfectant being used

In addition to knowing the shelf-life of the disinfectant (i.e. the concentrated product), it’s important to know how long the diluted product is good for to ensure there is enough active in the solution to continue to work properly. The in-use dilution shelf-life for some disinfectants might only be for 24 hours, or 7 days, or even better, 90 days. The point is to check the label or check with the manufacturer to ensure you know how long the diluted product is good for.



#5 Topping off diluted disinfectant bottles, rather than starting each time with a cleaned bottle and fresh batch.


Making this mistake means you’ve just mixed old disinfectant with new. This can lead to an over-diluted or inactivated mixture. In other words, it won’t work as well. When the spray bottle gets low: empty the bottle, give it a rinse, allow it to dry, and then refill with new diluted disinfectant! I like to relate this to putting new milk into an almost expired bottle of milk – you would never do that.



#6 Mixing cleaning chemicals


In addition to the potential for dangerous interactions, there’s a chance that adding one chemical to another will cause the disinfectant to not work properly. For example, if you add a scented product to your disinfectant simply because you like the smell better, there’s a chance the chemical mixture won’t be as potent as it needs to be. This will lead to the potential of pathogens not being killed on surfaces which increases the risk of pathogen transmission for the staff and the animals. For best practices, always keep to one disinfectant within your facility, or at least train it out that under no circumstances chemicals will not be mixed together.



#7 Not giving or receiving product specific training to team members

Just because you learned how to clean from a family member at home doesn’t mean you know how to properly clean and disinfect in a veterinary healthcare setting. And, just because you know how to use one disinfectant does not mean you know how to use another one. Different disinfectants work different ways with various dilution rates, shelf lives, contact times, and safety precautions.



Expanding on lucky #7 - What can be done to help address all these common mistakes?


Have a team meeting! Communication Communication Communication!


Nominate an Infection Prevention Champion within your facility! Talk to your distributor rep about providing an in-service training for the whole staff. Even ask them to incorporate a technical service expert from the manufacturer of the disinfectant. Here at Virox Animal Health – we are all about education! We want to ensure you are using the product correctly and are comfortable with using it which will ensure compliance and safety for the whole team and also the animals!

Click here to download the Cleaning and Disinfection Protocol for Cages/Kennels and watch our video on “How to Disinfectant a Small Cage” to help your team follow step by step instructions!


Paw you later!