Wipes spread germs. But which wipes, and why?Wipes spread germs. But which wipes, and why?

Posted

10th June 2015

Company News

There has been much coverage in the media this week for a new paper in the American Journal of Infection Control from the Cardiff group under the leadership of Prof Jean-Yves Maillard. We blogged on the detail of this paper last week, but in summary the paper demonstrated variability in the ability of a range of detergent wipes to remove bacteria and spores from surfaces. NHS Choices has a more balanced view of this paper than the rather sensationalist reporting elsewhere.

Most headlines have suggested that nurses are spreading superbugs around the ward by using wet wipes. The study shows that detergent wipes do not remove pathogens from surfaces in significant numbers. This is not a new finding and hardly surprising as a detergent wipe aims to be the first step in the cleaning process and is not a disinfection stage on its own. Also, it’s worth noting that the risk of spreading germs using detergent is not restricted to wipes – this has been reported for “mop and bucket” type application of detergent also. So, would you see the same results with a disinfectant wipe? The answer is no, since disinfectant wipes are formulated to remove dirt and kill microbes in a single step.

The key difference between a detergent and a disinfectant wipe is that pathogens not removed by the wiping action will be destroyed by the action of the disinfectants contained within the wipe. It is also important to use combined disinfectant and detergent wipes as Disinfectant Wipes that do not contain any form of detergent will have only limited cleaning properties and so the disinfectants may not be effective.

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