Cleaning House, Part 1: Lessons from the Cleanest Hospitals

by Erica Mitchell | March 25 2020 | Germ, HAIs | 2 Comments


Whether someone in your home has been sick, or you simply want to reduce the spread of outside germs into your quarantine environment, one of the first things you want to do is clean up. But what needs to be cleaned? And what cleaner is needed? These are some critical questions that can be answered with a little help from the cleaning professionals in a hospital. Let’s bring some of the lessons learned from hospital cleaning home as we clean house!

Three Lessons Hospitals Can Teach Us about Cleaning

The cleanest hospitals follow strict rules for housekeeping, training, and isolation protocols. While we won't exactly be constructing hermetically-sealed, hospital-grade recovery rooms in our homes, we are able to learn a lot from their excellence in infection prevention.

  1. The pathogen causing the illness must inform our cleaning regimen.

    Each pathogen has its own unique characteristics that dictate the kind of cleanser needed, the frequency of cleaning required, and many other factors. Even though the organisms causing hospital-acquired infections are different than those that cause our typical community-acquired infections, we should use this same type of approach in our home cleaning.

  2. Focus on touchpoints.

    Viruses and bacteria are spread from person to person directly, but also via objects that have become contaminated. Hospitals focus cleaning regimens and adoption of new technologies on these critical touchpoints. We know pathogens survive outside the body, so we need to be sure to destroy them on the surfaces in hospitals and in our home. We also know which objects are touched the most in our homes, giving us a plan of action for our cleaning.

  3. Plan for prevention.

    Hospitals focus intensely on infection prevention. They have protocols set up to keep infected patients isolated, to make sure healthcare workers wear the right gear and wash their hands, as well as many other details. We can be just as vigilant about preventing infection or spread of infection in our homes by following a few rules.

Next weeks post will focus on Pathogen-informed cleaning. You’ll find out how important it is to know whether or not you are cleaning up after a virus or a bacteria, and which areas to focus on for both. Stay tuned!

New Call-to-action Editor's Note: This post was originally published in February 2016 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy and comprehensiveness.