| Main Topic | Hygiene
Microfiber cloths can work alone to remove bacteria, without the need for chemicals. Photo: Chicopee
Application of microfiber textiles
Cleaning is vital to halting the
spread of infection
As the fight against healthcare acquired infections continues, the introduction of microfiber to
cleaning is playing a vital part in stopping bacteria being spread, whether it be from one surface
to the next or from floors to high-touch areas. Read about the science behind cleaning.
In Europe alone, around 37,000 people die every year from
infections contracted in healthcare facilities. The prevention of
infection is fundamental to the safety of patients and the quality
of care they receive. Therefore, halting the spread of infection
remains a key priority for the health and care home sector around
Europe. It is estimated that around one fifth of infections contracted
while a patient is receiving health care could be prevented through
the adoption of a stringent cleaning protocol.
A recent multi-center study in Europe showed that the proportion
of infected patients in intensive care units can be as high as
with around one third of cases being health care
The longer a patient stays in ICU, the more likely they
are to contract an infection. The direct cost of this to European
health care systems is significant – around seven billion Euro
– reflecting around 16 million extra days spent in hospital. In
to prolonging hospital stays, other repercussions of
can be the creation of long-term disability, and an
increased resistance to antibiotics.
Keeping patient areas clean is a major challenge for any health
care facility, a problem which is made more difficult to solve
by often conflicting advice from the manufacturers of cleaning
about how to carry out an effective clean. This arises
from a general lack of clinically-based trials for testing the most
popular ways of cleaning.
What can change?
Popular laundering practices are often insufficient for removing
microbes from reusable cloths and towels. The American Journal
of Infection Control found that even after laundering, 93 percent
of cloths – including those made from microfiber – still contained
high levels of potentially dangerous bacteria.
The MRSA virus, for example, can survive for up to 21 days on
traditional cleaning cloths, which in tests were found to spread
around one third of bacteria collected onto the next surface to
be cleaned. While germs remained on reusable microfiber cloths,
none were found to be transferred.
Switching to disposable microfiber cloths in place of reusable
ones removes both the requirement for time-consuming laundry
and the danger of bacteria surviving on the cloth. However, not
cloths are created equal. Lower-quality cloths can
contain as little as 25 percent microfibers, compared with leading
brands which are constructed from 100 percent microfiber.
Generally speaking, the finer the fibers, the higher quality the
cloth. Standard microfiber is measured at between 0.7 and 1.0
decitex, whereas some of the leading brands can be as fine as
0.1375 decitex – or around one-hundredth the thickness of a
human hair. Not only does a thinner, splittable fiber deliver a
highly effective bacteria removal rate, the cloth itself is bulkier,
stronger and more absorbent both when wet or dry.
18 GLOBAL CLEANING | ISSUE 2018