How Janitors contribute to cross-contamination

Source: Wikimedia Commons

Janitors are responsible for the cleanliness and maintenance of many types of establishments, including hospitals, schools and restaurants. In most places, there are procedures and regulations to be followed in order to achieve optimal cleanliness and, ultimately, prevent the spread of harmful bacteria.

But did you know that janitors can also spread infection through cross-contamination, if there aren’t proper cleaning protocols in place?

According to Infection Control Today (2019),

“Cross-contamination is defined as the spread of germs from one surface or object to another and frequently occurs when performing janitorial tasks.”

Robert Shor, Infection Control Today, 2019

Infection Control Today describes several possible causes of janitorial cross-contamination, which include mop heads, towels, and gloves. While it is known that these sources are associated with the spread of infection, there is one which is often overlooked: the gloves worn by the janitor. While cleaning many different rooms, and even different buildings, the janitor usually keeps the same gloves for the duration of the cleaning. When changing rooms and buildings, he is spreading the bacteria that are on his gloves.

Infection Control Today suggests the following protocol for janitors’ use of gloves:

  • Don gloves before performing cleaning tasks (use gloves that are appropriate for the task being performed).
  • Change gloves in the following situations:
    • When they become soiled, torn or punctured
    • After cleaning areas with high concentrations of germs (restrooms)
    • When going from building to building or floor to floor
    • After cleaning each classroom (room), restrooms, kitchen areas
  • Avoid contaminating your hands when removing gloves by following CDC guidelines.
  • Wash hands and/or use hand sanitizers after janitorial tasks are completed.

Janitors play a very important role when it comes to keeping establishments sanitary and safe. That is why it is crucial to develop protocols to ensure the highest quality of cleaning.

Source: Infection Control Today, Vol. 23, No. 3, March 2019

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