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FAQ - Disinfection - 2014
 FAQ -  Disinfection  -  2014



Our clinic is using the pre-soaked towelettes for surface disinfection. Is it also proper protocol to wipe twice after the end of the clinic? What about the first clinic of the day if it was already wiped down the evening before? Should it be wiped once again? Thanks!

In general, the 2003 CDC guidelines for infection control in dentistry states the following regarding surface disinfection:

Environmental surfaces can be divided into clinical contact surfaces and housekeeping surfaces (249). Because housekeeping surfaces (e.g., floors, walls, and sinks) have limited risk of disease transmission, they can be decontaminated with less rigorous methods than those used on dental patient-care items and clinical contact surfaces (244). Strategies for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in patient-care areas should consider the 1) potential for direct patient contact; 2) degree and frequency of hand contact; and 3) potential contamination of the surface with body substances or environmental sources of microorganisms (e.g., soil, dust, or water).

Cleaning is the necessary first step of any disinfection process. Cleaning is a form of decontamination that renders the environmental surface safe by removing organic matter, salts, and visible soils, all of which interfere with microbial inactivation. The physical action of scrubbing with detergents and surfactants and rinsing with water removes substantial numbers of microorganisms. If a surface is not cleaned first, the success of the disinfection process can be compromised. Removal of all visible blood and inorganic and organic matter can be as critical as the germicidal activity of the disinfecting agent (249). When a surface cannot be cleaned adequately, it should be protected with barriers (2). 1


If barriers are not used, surfaces should be cleaned and disinfected between patients by using an EPA-registered hospital disinfectant with an HIV, HBV claim (i.e., low-level disinfectant) or a tuberculocidal claim (i.e., intermediate-level disinfectant). Intermediate-level disinfectant should be used when the surface is visibly contaminated with blood or OPIM (2,244). Also, general cleaning and disinfection are recommended for clinical contact surfaces, dental unit surfaces, and countertops at the end of daily work activities and are required if surfaces have become contaminated since their last cleaning (13). To facilitate daily cleaning, treatment areas should be kept free of unnecessary equipment and supplies.

Manufacturers of dental devices and equipment should provide information regarding material compatibility with liquid chemical germicides, whether equipment can be safely immersed for cleaning, and how it should be decontaminated if servicing is required (289). Because of the risks associated with exposure to chemical disinfectants and contaminated surfaces, DHCP who perform environmental cleaning and disinfection should wear gloves and other PPE to prevent occupational exposure to infectious agents and hazardous chemicals. Chemical- and puncture-resistant utility gloves offer more protection than patient examination gloves when using hazardous chemicals. 1

Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008 states:

CDC has divided noncritical surfaces in dental offices into clinical contact and housekeeping surfaces43. Clinical contact surfaces are surfaces that might be touched frequently with gloved hands during patient care or that might become contaminated with blood or other potentially infectious material and subsequently contact instruments, hands, gloves, or devices (e.g., light handles, switches, dental X-ray equipment, chair-side computers). Barrier protective coverings (e.g., clear plastic wraps) can be used for these surfaces, particularly those that are difficult to clean (e.g., light handles, chair switches). The coverings should be changed when visibly soiled or damaged and routinely (e.g., between patients). Protected surfaces should be disinfected at the end of each day or if contamination is evident. If not barrier-protected, these surfaces should be disinfected between patients with an intermediate-disinfectant (i.e., EPA-registered hospital disinfectant with tuberculocidal claim) or low-level disinfectant (i.e., EPA-registered hospital disinfectant with an HBV and HIV label claim) 43, 214, 215. 2

Additional questions about procedures for the use of specific surface disinfectant products should be directed to the manufacturer of the product.


1)     Kohn WG, Collins AS, Cleveland JL, Harte JA, Eklund KJ, Malvitz DM, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Guidelines for infection control in dental health-care settings—2003. MMWR Recomm Rep 2003;52(RR-17):1-61.    Accessed on July 20, 2014.

2)     US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities, 2008 states:   Accessed on July 21, 2014.




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