Environmental decontamination 3: auditing cleaning and disinfection

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This article has been double-blind peer reviewed

In this article…

• Different methods used to audit cleaning and disinfection

In this article…

• How audits of cleaning and disinfection should be performed

In this article…

• Using audit data to drive improvement


Jonathan Otter is epidemiologist (infection prevention and control), Imperial College Healthcare Trust and honorary senior lecturer, National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit in Healthcare Associated Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance, Imperial College London; Tracey Galletly is lead nurse for infection prevention and control at Imperial College Healthcare Trust.

The final article in our three-part series about the importance of environmental decontamination in healthcare settings explores how to audit cleaning and disinfection in order to maximise patient safety. It outlines different auditing methods and describes how they can be applied in practice to improve the quality of decontamination and patient outcomes.


Otter J, Galletly T (2018) Environmental decontamination 3: auditing cleaning and disinfection. Nursing Times; 114: 9, 25-28.

Key points

Measuring the effectiveness of cleaning and disinfection is an integral part of the decontamination process

Key points

The aim of auditing cleaning and disinfection is to improve and sustain performance

Key points

Visual assessment measures the appearance of an item or surface, which may not correlate with microbial contamination

Key points

Microbiological surface cultures can be used to monitor the levels of microbes and are usually used in outbreak investigations

Key points

Fluorescent markers and adenosine triphosphate bioluminescence can be used for process evaluation

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