Cleaning frequencies

Bogusz, A. et al. 2013. How quickly do hospital surfaces become contaminated after detergent cleaning?


  • To determine the effect of detergent-based cleaning on microbial load at near-patient sites on one ward over a 48 h period.
  • In a care-of-the-elderly assessment and rehabilitation ward.


  • Cleaning with fresh disposable detergent wipe (Tuffie detergent wipes, UK).
  • Wipes contain a mixture of non-ionic constituents at neutral pH.
  • Cleaning bed-frame components posed few practical problems: gaining access to the bedside lockers and overbed tables was difficult due to the quantity of patient belongings.
  • The quality of cleaning was standardised by preliminary training and assessment using microbiological methods.


  • Lockers, left and right bedrails and overbed tables in 30 bed spaces were screened for aerobic colony counts (ACC) and staphylococci (methicillin-susceptible and methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus: MSSA/MRSA) before detergent-based cleaning.
  • Sites were rescreened at: 1, 2, 4, 8, 12, 24 and 48 h after cleaning.
  • Microbial growth was quantified as number of ACC/cm2 and presence of MSSA/MRSA at each site.
  • The study was repeated 3 times at monthly intervals.


  • There was a significant reduction in average ACC (360 sites) from a pre-clean level of 6.72 ACC/cm2 to 3.46 ACC/cm2 at 4 hours after detergent-based cleaning (P < 0.0001).
  • Average counts increased to 4.89 ACC/cm2 at 24 h and 5.27 ACC/cm2 at 48 h for all sites.
  • Levels on bed rails and lockers, but not overbed tables, fell below a proposed standard (5 cfu/cm2) for 24 h after cleaning.
  • MSSA/MRSA decreased 2–4 h after cleaning before increasing but failed to reach pre-clean levels.


  • Detergent cleaning reduces ACC at near-patient sites on a hospital ward.
  • S. aureus (including MRSA) was not completely eliminated but showed a similar pattern of decrease.
  • Microbial burden at high-risk sites beside the patient could potentially be controlled by daily cleaning with single-use detergent wipes.