Medical curtains, also known as hospital cubicle curtains or privacy curtains, are essential for creating a comfortable and confidential environment for patients and healthcare providers in various settings. However, they can also harbor harmful bacteria and viruses if not cleaned and disinfected regularly.
This article will discuss how to clean and disinfect medical curtains, such as those manufactured by Hospital Cubicle Curtains (https://www.hospitalcubiclecurtains.com), properly, using the best practices and products available.
Why Is It Important to Clean and Disinfect Medical Curtains?
Medical curtains can become contaminated with various pathogens, such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), Clostridioides difficile (C. diff), and coronavirus (COVID-19), through direct or indirect contact with patients, staff, visitors, or equipment. These pathogens can survive on the fabric for days or even months, posing a risk of infection transmission to anyone who touches or comes near the curtains.
According to an Ohl et al. (2012) study, 42% of hospital privacy curtains were contaminated with MRSA within one week of being laundered, and 92% were contaminated within three weeks. Another study by Otter et al. (2013) found that 13% of hospital privacy curtains were contaminated with C. diff spores, resistant to many disinfectants and can cause severe diarrhea and colitis.
Furthermore, medical curtains can accumulate dust, dirt, stains, odors, and allergens over time, affecting the fabric’s appearance, quality, and hygiene. Therefore, cleaning and disinfecting medical curtains regularly is important to prevent the spread of infections, maintain a high standard of cleanliness, and enhance the patient experience.
How Often Should Medical Curtains Be Cleaned and Disinfected?
The frequency of cleaning and disinfection of medical curtains depends on several factors, such as the type of fabric, the level of contamination, the type of setting, and the manufacturer’s instructions. However, some general guidelines are:
- Clean and disinfect medical curtains whenever they are visibly soiled or stained.
- Clean and disinfect medical curtains at least every six months or more often if local or national regulations require.
- Clean and disinfect medical curtains after each patient discharge or transfer to isolation rooms or areas with high-risk patients.
- Clean and disinfect medical curtains whenever an infectious disease outbreak occurs in the facility.
What Are the Best Methods and Products for Cleaning and Disinfecting Medical Curtains?
There are two main methods for cleaning and disinfecting medical curtains: laundering and wiping. The choice of method depends on the type of fabric, the level of contamination, and the availability of resources.
Laundering is washing medical curtains in a washing machine with water and detergent, then drying them in a dryer or air-drying. Laundering removes dirt, stains, odors, allergens, and most pathogens from washable fabrics. However, laundering may not be suitable for fabrics that are not washable, or that may shrink, fade, or lose their flame-retardant properties when washed.
To launder medical curtains properly:
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for washing temperature, cycle, detergent type, and amount.
- Use a gentle cycle and a mild detergent that does not contain bleach or fabric softener.
- Wash only one curtain at a time to avoid tangling or overloading the machine.
- Dry the curtain in a dryer on low heat or air-dry it completely before rehanging it.
- Inspect the curtain for any damage or wear after washing and drying.
Wiping is the process of cleaning medical curtains with a cloth or wipe soaked in a disinfectant solution. Wiping effectively removes surface dirt and reduces the microbial load from fabrics that are not washable or cannot be laundered frequently. However, wiping may not be sufficient for removing stains, odors, allergens, or spores from fabrics.
To wipe medical curtains properly:
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for choosing a compatible disinfectant solution that does not damage or discolor the fabric.
- Use a cloth or wipe that is moistened but not dripping with the disinfectant solution.
- Wipe the entire surface of the curtain from top to bottom in overlapping strokes.
- Allow the curtain to air-dry completely before rehanging it.
- Replace the cloth or wipe after each curtain or when it becomes visibly soiled.
What Are Some Tips and Tricks for Cleaning and Disinfecting Medical Curtains?
Here are some tips and tricks for making the process of cleaning and disinfecting medical curtains easier and faster:
Use Disposable Cubicle Curtains
Using disposable cubicle curtains that can be replaced after each patient transfer or discharge simplifies cleaning and disinfection of medical curtains. These curtains are made of non-woven fabric impregnated with antimicrobial agents to inhibit the growth of bacteria and fungi. They are simple to install and remove, safe for the environment, and do not require laundering or wiping.
Install Track Systems
Installing track systems makes it easier to remove and reattach medical curtains. These are metal or plastic rails mounted on the ceiling or wall and have hooks or snaps to securely hold the curtains. Curtains can slide along track systems and can have antimicrobial coatings. They also allow you to replace only the contaminated sections of the curtains rather than the entire curtain.
Attach Color-Coded Tags or Labels
Attach color-coded tags or labels indicating the last date of cleaning or disinfection to medical curtains to track cleaning and disinfection. Different colors represent different time intervals; for example, a green tag indicates that the cleaning was completed within a week, whereas a red tag indicates that the curtain needs to be cleaned. The tags aid in monitoring cleaning frequency and ensuring infection control standards are met.
Use Fresh Cleaning Cloths and Mops
To prevent cross-contamination during the cleaning and disinfection of medical curtains, use fresh cleaning cloths and mops at the start of each cleaning session. Reusing dirty cloths or mops can spread microorganisms from one surface to another. Cleaning cloths and mops should be changed after each room and after cleaning blood and bodily fluid spills.
Clean from Cleanest to Dirtiest
Cleaning from the cleanest to dirtiest areas will optimize the cleaning and disinfection of medical curtains. This entails beginning at the top of the curtain and working your way down from the least contaminated sections to the most contaminated. This can help to avoid re-contaminating clean areas with dirty clothes or mops.
Medical curtains are an important part of creating a private and comfortable environment for patients and healthcare providers and healthcare providers in various settings. However, they can also become contaminated with harmful pathogens that can cause infections and outbreaks. Therefore, cleaning and disinfecting medical curtains properly is essential, using the best methods and products available.