Is There a Correlation Between Hospital Cleanliness and Healthcare-Associated Infections?

by Lawton Brothers | Oct 17, 2019

Did you know that healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), can account for 1.7 million infections and 99,000 deaths each year?
When a patient enters your healthcare facility for medical services, they are immediately put at risk for contracting healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) through improper environmental hygiene practices.

 As an essential part of healthcare leadership, it is critical to ensure your patient safety for the facilities you serve. You can minimize the risk of HAIs by encouraging your medical staff to be aware of and promote proper environmental hygiene and cleaning practices.

At Lawton Brothers, we understand that in extensive healthcare facilities, hygiene practices can be put on the back burner. We are taking this opportunity during International Infection Prevention Week to provide a timely reminder of the importance of the correlation between your facility’s cleanliness and your patient’s safety.


Healthcare-associated infections are infections that a patient develops during their hospital stay. HAIs can be contracted in any type of facility, including hospitals, ambulances and long-term care facilities, just to name a few.  

When a healthcare facility does not engage in proper environmental cleaning practices, it can cause increased diseases (morbidity), decrease mortality, increase the length of hospital stays and costs incurred by the hospital. (yikes!) 

According to Becker’s Clinical Leaders & Infection Control:

●      The length of stay for a patient who contracts an HAI increases by 17.6 days

●      9.4 percent of in-patient costs are for HAIs

●      HAIs can cost healthcare facilities $35 billion per year

The most common HAIs patients get during their hospital stay include:

●      Central-line associated bloodstream infections

●      Clostridium difficile infections

●      Pneumonia

●      Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus

●      Surgical site infections

●      Urinary Tract infections

How do patients contract these HAIs?

As you know, HAIs can be contracted through environmental transmission; through the hands and the contamination of surfaces.


Environmental hygiene can be dependent on the pathogen present and what product you are using to remove it.  According to an article published in BioMed Central, there are five areas of cleanliness that healthcare leaders should take into account when thinking about their hospital: 

  1. Workforce: the staff whose responsibility is to organize, execute and verify cleaning activity.
  2. Area: the environment that needs to be cleaned, including surfaces.
  3. Substance: the chemical product being used to clean.
  4. Technique: the method by which the staff is applying the substance.
  5. Equipment: the machines being used to clean, including microfiber cloths and cleaning machines.

 If any of these areas are lacking or absent, the level of cleaning is inferior to what it should be.

 You should also be asking yourself these questions:

 What are our options for cleaning and disinfecting the patient’s environment? 

  1. What approaches are in use?
  2. How do cleaning, disinfecting and monitoring interact?
  3. What are the advantages and disadvantages of cleaning, disinfecting and monitoring? 

What equipment is needed to impact cleaning, disinfecting and monitoring? 

  1. What equipment is essential to the efficiency of environmental cleaning services?
  2. Is it essential to train cleaning staff?
  3. What are the regulations around disinfecting the facility? 


The optimal cleaning product for a healthcare facility is one that is effective against bacteria, spores and viruses while leaving no impact on the environment and being completely safe. Unfortunately, there isn’t a product that does all of that. (sadly) 

The most common chemicals used for disinfection include: 

●      Alcohol: is used to disinfect small surfaces or external surfaces like ventilators. Alcohol is a flammable substance and must be used in well-ventilated spaces. Long-term use of alcohol can cause discoloration, hardening and even cracking in plastics and rubber.

●      Hydrogen peroxide: can be effective against bacteria, yeast, fungi and viruses and leaves no odor.

●      Ortho-phthalaldehyde: is an antimicrobial disinfectant for medical equipment that can cause respiratory issues if not handled properly.

●      Chlorine: is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial disinfectant that does not leave a residue.

●      Peracetic acid: is used to sterilize medical and surgical instruments.

●      Phenolics: are EPA-registered disinfectants that are used to clean environmental surfaces like bedside tables, bed rails and laboratory surfaces.

●      Quaternary Ammonium compounds: are used to disinfect patient-care equipment like catheters. 

Unfortunately, data-sf-ec-immutable="" while healthcare facilities are more than willing to upgrade their technology, they are less willing to invest in their environmental hygiene practices. Rather than spend your cleaning budget on only cleaning products, invest in your environmental cleaning employees, as well. An cleaning company can not only supply your healthcare facility with top-notch cleaning solutions but will also be able to provide your employees with the proper training--all while staying within your budget.

Not encouraging proper cleaning practices can affect budgets across the hospital. This can make it difficult to really understand how the lack of such protocols can genuinely change the healthcare facility as a whole.  That is why it’s essential to look at the increased number of days a patient may spend in the hospital due to an HAI, hospital staff overtime, missed revenue and increases in costs due to HAI outbreaks. 

When you are making a decision about investing in your environmental hygiene maintenance processes, which products to get, or how much training your cleaning staff really needs, think about the cost of not investing in these things and what that means for the healthcare facility long-term. 


Unfortunately, even if you have the best cleaning staff, they will be useless if they aren’t using the correct product. And, the best product is useless if it isn’t being applied correctly. That is why it is essential to have a team that can help you choose the best products and machines for the situation at hand. 

At Lawton Brothers, we have many products and services that could benefit your healthcare facility. Three products that you could implement into your healthcare environmental cleaning and disinfecting routine right now include: 

  1. Hillyard Vindicator + -
  2. Green Klean Chlorinated Tablets -
  3. Victory Sprayer - 

And, if your staff needs training on equipment, we can help with that too! To talk to one of our representatives about how we can help your healthcare facility decrease the number of HAIs by improving your cleaning and disinfecting strategies, give us a call at 800-432-0813. 

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