Sanitizing Textiles in Place



TANCS® Mondo Vap − Path to Performance Hygiene

March 16, 2015

There is growing evidence that sanitizing textiles in place − such as healthcare privacy curtains − could have a huge impact on reducing disease transmission. Why? These are touched often, but laundered infrequently.

According to Dr. Charles Gerba, Microbiology & Environmental Sciences Professor at the University of Arizona:
“This is an area we have been looking at recently. For example, one study shows [microbial] dose from blankets contaminated with influenza could infect mice. It is possible that dust (containing organisms) is generated when people move cloth materials, or sit on cloth-covered furniture creating infectious aerosols. This does not happen with hard surfaces. Combine this with how seldom – if at all – cloth surfaces are sanitized and they could potentially be more of a risk, even if transfer of organisms to the skin is less than hard surfaces.”

According to Dr. Benjamin Tanner, President, Antimicrobial Test Laboratories:
“Microbiologists understand that fomites (inanimate objects) can serve as transmission vehicles for microorganisms. Most disinfection and sanitization focuses on hard, non-porous surfaces such as tables, floors, and doorknobs, but it is well-known that textiles are a surface of concern within the healthcare environment. Textiles tend to transmit fewer pathogens per touch than a similarly contaminated hard surface, but in my laboratory’s experience, microorganisms survive longer in/on textiles than on hard surfaces. For example, a study from 2009 showed 24% of doctors’ white lab coats to be contaminated with S. aureus (a close cousin of MRSA). That study did not use a sensitive sampling technique, so the incidence of contamination is probably even greater. Other textiles such as privacy curtains are also frequently contaminated. One study showed that within one week of laundering, 92% of privacy curtains showed MRSA or VRE.”

While laundering works to sanitize textiles, it is not practical for daily Performance Hygiene (sanitizing performed with very little labor, and in short time periods.)

There have been few cleaning performance interventions that have shown promise in handling this hygienic challenge, until recently.

According to Robert W. Powitz Ph.D., and Forensic Sanitarian: “The only [intervention] that shows promise (short of laundering) is dry steam.”

According to Carl Solomon Sr., Director of Hospitality Services, UC San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center(s), effective steam vapor sanitizing may offer the following advantages:

• Low contact time of saturated steam required to kill most pathogens (MRSA, VRE in 2-3 seconds with units making disinfecting claims).
• Thoroughly tested by some manufacturers, peer-reviewed data available.
• Moist heat as the functional agent outperforms most traditional chemical cleaning methods.
• Dry (6%) saturated steam provides rapid kill, and penetrates vertical and horizontal surface pores that a cleaning cloth or wipe cannot.
• Potential effectiveness on textiles (i.e., privacy curtains) due to penetration [bolding and italics ours].

Thus, the Mondo Vap with TANCS shows promise as a path to Performance Hygiene on textiles.



Charles P. Gerba, PhD, is an internationally recognized environmental microbiologist and Professor of Environmental Microbiology in the Departments of Microbiology and Immunology, and Soil, Water and Environmental Science, at the University of Arizona.
Dr. Robert W. Powitz holds a Masters in Public Health, with a specialty in institutional practice, and a PhD in environmental health from the University of Minnesota. He is currently a Forensic Sanitarian in private practice.
Carl Solomon Sr, is Director of Hospitality Services, UC San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center(s).

Dr. Benjamin Tanner holds a BS in Molecular Biology and a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Arizona, where he studied disease transmission and assessed infection risks for workers.

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