Key Definitions & Abbreviations
Best Practices for Environmental Cleaning in Global Healthcare Facilities with Limited Resources
The materials on this page were created for use in global healthcare facilities with limited resources, particularly in low- and middle-income countries. Environmental cleaning resources designed for U.S. healthcare facilities can be found at Healthcare Environment Infection Prevention.
- Automatic dispensing system
- Chemical-resistant gloves
- Chemical sterilant
- Cleaning cart (cleaning trolley)
- Cleaning products (cleaning agents)
- Cleaning session
- Cleaning solution
- Contact time
- Critical patient care equipment
- Disinfectant fogging
- Disinfectant solution
- Dry sweeping
- Dry mopping
- Environmental cleaning
- Environmental cleaning services area
- Focal person
- General patient areas
- Hand hygiene
- Hemodialysis station
- High-level disinfection
- High-touch surfaces
- Incubator (isolette)
- Low-level disinfection
- Low-touch surfaces
- Material compatibility
- Mechanical action
- Microfiber cloths
- Mid-level disinfection (intermediate-level disinfection)
- Multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO)
- Noncritical patient care equipment
- Patient care areas
- Patient zone
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Private vs. shared toilets
- Resource-limited settings
- Reusable rubber gloves
- Routine cleaning
- Safety data sheet (SDS)
- Scheduled cleaning
- Semi-critical patient care equipment
- Sluice room
- Specialized patient areas
- Standard Precautions
- Surgical field
- Terminal (discharge) cleaning
- Three-bucket system (mopping)
- Transmission-Based Precautions
- Transport equipment
- Two-bucket system (mopping)
a substance that prevents or arrests the growth or action of microorganisms by inhibiting their activity or by destroying them. The term is used especially for preparations applied topically to living tissue.
Automatic dispensing system:
systems that provide computer controls (automation) for preparation of cleaning or disinfectant solutions. These systems replace the need for manually measuring a quantity of cleaning or disinfectant products and water.
the physical removal of foreign material (e.g., dust, soil) and organic material (e.g., blood, secretions, excretions, microorganisms). Cleaning physically removes rather than kills microorganisms. It is accomplished with water, detergents, and mechanical action.
Cleaning cart (also known as cleaning trolley):
a dedicated cart or trolley that carries environmental cleaning supplies and equipment, in addition to bags or bins for soiled materials, such as laundry, for disposal or reprocessing.
Cleaning products (also known as cleaning agents):
liquids, powders, sprays, or granules that remove organic material (e.g., dirt, body fluids) from surfaces and suspend grease or oil. Can include liquid soap, enzymatic cleaners, and detergents.
the time that a disinfectant must be in contact with a surface or device to ensure that appropriate disinfection has occurred. For most disinfectants, the surface should remain wet for the required contact time.
the presence of any potentially infectious agent on environmental surfaces, clothing, bedding, surgical instruments or dressings, or other inanimate articles or substances, including water, medications, and food.
a synthetic cleansing agent that can emulsify and suspend oil. Contains surfactant or a mixture of surfactants with cleaning properties in dilute solutions to lower surface tension and aid in the removal of organic soil and oils, fats, and greases.
Disinfectants are applied only to inanimate objects. All organic material and soil must be removed by a cleaning product before application of disinfectants. Some products combine a cleaner with a disinfectant.
cleaning and disinfection (when needed, according to risk level) of environmental surfaces (e.g., bed rails, mattresses, call buttons, chairs) and surfaces of noncritical patient care equipment (e.g., IV poles, stethoscopes).
Environmental cleaning services area:
a dedicated space for preparing, reprocessing, and storing clean or new environmental cleaning supplies and equipment, including cleaning products and PPE. Access is restricted to cleaning staff and authorized personnel.
General patient areas:
outpatient or ambulatory care wards and inpatient wards with patients admitted for routine medical procedures who are not receiving acute care (i.e., sudden, urgent or emergent episodes of injury and illness that require rapid intervention).
a hemodialysis machine with a chair or bed and connections to purified water and sanitary sewer. Stations in facilities with central delivery can also have acid concentrate and bicarb concentrate connections.
inactivates most vegetative bacteria, some fungi, and some viruses in a practical contact time, but does not kill more hardy viruses (e.g. non-enveloped), bacterial genus (e.g. mycobacteria), or bacterial spores.
Multidrug-resistant organisms (MDRO) and pathogens:
germs (viruses, bacteria, and fungi) that develop the ability to defeat the drugs designed to kill them. Typically refers to an isolate that is resistant to at least one antibiotic in three or more drug classes.
Patient care areas:
any area where patient care is directly (e.g., examination room) and indirectly (e.g., medication preparation area) provided. Includes the surrounding healthcare environment (e.g., patient toilets).
Private vs. shared toilets:
private toilets are dedicated to one person over a specified time period—environmental cleaning always takes place before their use by a different person. Shared toilets are used by more than one person within a specified time period and might not be cleaned before use by a different person.
Reusable rubber gloves (also referred to as domestic gloves or household gloves):
gloves that protect the hands from liquids, including cleaning or disinfectant solutions, and chemicals. They are stronger (more durable) than disposable (single use) latex gloves.
the regular cleaning (and disinfection, when indicated) when the room is occupied to remove organic material, reduce microbial contamination, and provide a visually clean environment. Emphasis is on surfaces within the patient zone.
Safety data sheet (SDS):
a document by the supplier or manufacturer of a chemical product that contains information on the product’s potential hazards (health, fire, reactivity, and environmental) and how to work safely with it. It also contains information on the use, storage, handling, and emergency procedures.
Specialized patient areas:
inpatient wards or units (e.g., medication preparation areas) for high-dependency patients (e.g., ICUs), immunosuppressed patients (e.g., bone marrow transplant, chemotherapy), patients undergoing invasive procedures (e.g., operating rooms), or those who are regularly exposed to blood or body fluids (e.g., labor and delivery ward, burn units).
are used for all patient care. Based on a risk assessment and make use of common sense practices and personal protective and other equipment that protects healthcare providers from infection and prevent the spread of infection from patient to patient.
Terminal (discharge) cleaning:
cleaning and disinfection after the patient is discharged or transferred. Includes the removal of organic material and significant reduction and elimination of microbial contamination.
Three-bucket system (mopping):
floor mopping system for cleaning and disinfection. One bucket contains a detergent or cleaning solution, the second bucket contains disinfectant or disinfectant solution, and the third bucket contains clean water for rinsing the mop.
intended to prevent transmission of infectious agents, including epidemiologically important microorganisms, that are spread by direct or indirect contact with the patient or the patient’s environment
intended to prevent transmission of pathogens spread through close respiratory or mucous membrane contact with respiratory secretions
intended to prevent transmission of infectious agents that remain infectious over long distances when suspended in the air (e.g., rubeola virus [measles], varicella virus [chickenpox], M. tuberculosis, and possibly SARS-CoV)
For some diseases that have multiple routes of transmission (e.g., SARS), more than one Transmission-Based Precautions category can be used.
Two-bucket system (mopping):
floor mopping system for cleaning only (not disinfection). One bucket contains a detergent or cleaning solution and the second bucket contains clean water for rinsing the mop.
a machine used to clean and disinfect reusable patient care equipment (e.g., bedpans, urine bottles and bowls) and pre-clean reusable minor surgical instruments before sterilization.
|CDC||Centers for Disease Control and Prevention|
|C. diff||Clostridioides difficile|
|GRADE||Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development and Evaluation|
|HEPA||High-Efficiency Particulate Air|
|ICAN||Infection Control Africa Network|
|ICU||Intensive Care Unit|
|IPC||Infection Prevention and Control|
|MRSA||Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus|
|PPE||Personal Protective Equipment|
|SOP||Standard Operating Procedure|
|SDS||Safety Data Sheet|
|UNICEF||United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund|
|WASH||Water, Sanitation and Hygiene|
|WASH FIT||Water and Sanitation for Health Facility Improvement Tool|
|WHO||World Health Organization|