Cleaning Tip of the Month: Love Your Bugs

We are living in a bacterial world. For decades now we have been waging chemical warfare against the bacteria and viruses that are in our environment. We have been lobbing hand grenades at them in the form of disinfectants, antibiotics and antiseptic soaps. The bacteria have been throwing hand grenades back at us in the form of acquired resistance and the ability to make us sicker faster (increased virulence). In the Housekeeping Department we have loved our disinfectants, particularly quaternary ammonium chlorides – quats. Experts believe that the bacteria in our environment have been learning to resist quats because of the residual chemical smear that remains after the cleaning is complete, and in doing so they have gained an increased resistance to antibiotics as well. Also, we’ve known for years that gram-negative bacteria like Pseudomonas and E.coli can actually thrive in a mop pail or spray bottle of diluted quats – they are thriving, not being killed. In our effort to sterilize our environment by cleaning everything with a disinfectant we have succeeded in providing a competition-free zone for the harmful strains of common bacteria to grow wildly and cause worse infectious outbreaks. We are living in a bacterial world!! They were here long before we were, and they will be here long after we’re gone. Bacteria surround us and live in us, and on us. There are more bacterial cells in the human body than there are human cells, and they are absolutely necessary to our survival. Disinfectants are necessary in the operating room, Intensive Care Units, Burn Units, on the surface of dialysis machines, and in other areas specified by AHA and the Centers for Disease Control. For most surface cleaning we use germicidal detergent solutions at the Medical Center and Medical Office buildings for a healthy healthcare environment, clean well and love your bugs.

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