LABORATORY CLEANING: DISINFECTING
03 September 2023
Cleaning is the removal of foreign material (e.g., soil, and organic material) from objects and is normally accomplished using water with detergents or enzymatic products.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Thorough cleaning is required before high-level disinfection and sterilization because inorganic and organic materials that remain on the surfaces of instruments interfere with the effectiveness of these process.
Clinical/Medical labs are inherently a dangerous place. People face a variety of dangers working in an environment that contains biohazards. Utilizing standard precautions and correctly employing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are essential keys to ensuring your safety. Maintaining a clean and orderly environment and employing good disinfect practices are vital as well. A cluttered workspace and an area contaminated with biohazards threatens the safety of both employees and visitors.
1- Due to the nature of the biohazardous materials used in labs, lab benches should not only be orderly, but they should also be disinfected after every work shift and after any spill that occurs. The disinfection should take place with the use of an intermediate-level chemical germicide. The CDC recommends that the use of a 10% bleach solution as the disinfection standard, there are other products that can be used in the lab setting.
2- Laboratory cleaning products can be purchased in the form of pre-filled spray bottles, large containers of fluids, or even canisters of single-use wipes. Be careful when selecting any commercial product to make certain it is effective enough to eliminate most bacteria, including mycobacterium tuberculosis, and all fungi and that it inactivates the viruses. May products that are sold cannot perform all these disinfection functions, and labs that use insufficient products may inadvertently place their staff at risk for infection. Check the information provided by the manufacturer to make sure that the disinfectant selected is potent enough for complete lab disinfection.
3- Some lab instrument manufacturers recommend the use of specific cleaners on their equipment because bleach products may harm instrument surfaces. These cleaners may not be effective for biohazard control in the lab setting, and while they may be used on the equipment, they should not be used for general counter or work bench disinfection as well. A good way to avoid harm to surfaces from repeated bleach use is to rinse the surface with water or even ethanol after the bleach has been used.
4- It is also important to pay attention to the contact time needed for disinfectant chemical products to work effectively on laboratory surfaces. Whether using sprays or wipes, the disinfectant action does not occur immediately, and the wet product should be left on the counter or surface for a prescribed amount of time as designated by the manufacturer.
5- Regular cleaning and disinfection of lab surfaces are necessary to maintain the safety of the physical environment. Routinely wipe down chairs, telephones, computers, and other small items such as timers and pens. These items can become contaminated when handled. While PPE is designed for staff protection, studies have shown that contaminated surfaces and items also can lead to lab-acquired infections.
6- Accidents and spills of chemical or biohazardous material do occur, and it is necessary to have adequate spill clean-up supplies ready. Every clinical laboratory should have materials ready in the event of a spill of blood or body fluids. The spill kit should include absorbents, implements for handling broken glass, PPE, and disposal containers or bags.
7- Chemical spill kits should also be available. Make sure enough absorbents and neutralizers are kept, based on the amount of chemicals stored and used in the department. All employees should be adept at spill clean up procedures. Regular training is imperative and conducting spill drills will enable your employees to respond quickly and appropriately when an accident does occur.
When working in a laboratory setting, remember that it involves working with complex procedures and hazardous material. Regulatory agencies and common sense demand that staff be able to work safely every day, and that can be accomplished by maintaining a clean and safe physical environment and by also providing work practice procedures and education.
As a leader in Scientific Equipment Repair and Medical Equipment Calibrations, Scientific Instrument Center works with many corporations, universities, and hospitals providing the highest level of laboratory services.
If you have questions about your laboratory equipment and would like to discuss options for repairing or maintaining the equipment, please contact us toll free at (800) 686-8965
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