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Environmental Cleaning

Get clinical answers to frequently asked questions about environmental cleaning.

  • Can we use a broom to sweep the floor in the OR?

    No. Dry methods of cleaning, such as sweeping with a broom, should not be used in semi-restricted and restricted areas. The bristles of a broom may harbor pathogens and contaminate surfaces in the OR. Debris may be picked up off the floor by either a gloved hand or using a tool with a solid surface that can be disinfected, like a squeegee. However, sharp items must be handled with an instrument and not be picked up by hand due to the risk for a sharps injury.

    Resource:

    • Guideline for environmental cleaning. In: Guidelines for Perioperative Practice. Denver, CO: AORN, Inc.

    Updated March 29, 2016

  • Do we have to mop the floor after every procedure?

    A multidisciplinary team, including infection prevention and environmental services, should decide if any exemptions to floor mopping would be allowed at your facility. The floor should be mopped after each surgical or invasive procedure if soiled or potentially soiled (eg, by splash, splatter, or spray) by blood, body fluids, and other potentially infectious materials.

    Resource:

    • Guideline for environmental cleaning. In: Guidelines for Perioperative Practice. Denver, CO: AORN, Inc.

    Updated March 29, 2016

  • Should the OR bed be moved when mopping?

    Yes, the OR bed should be moved to inspect the cleanliness of the floor beneath it when mopping, especially if the OR bed was moved and the floor underneath was exposed during the procedure.

    Resource:

    • Wood, A. Mopping the OR floor between procedures. [Clinical Issues]. AORN J. 2014;99(3):435-441.

    Updated March 29, 2016

  • Can we start cleaning while the patient is still in the room?

    No. Environmental cleaning, including trash and contaminated laundry removal, should not begin until the patient has left the OR.

    Resource:

    • Guideline for environmental cleaning. In: Guidelines for Perioperative Practice. Denver, CO: AORN, Inc.

    Updated March 29, 2016

  • Do we have to damp dust if the terminal clean was just done?

    Yes. There is no established time limit between terminal cleaning and damp dusting. All horizontal surfaces in the OR (eg, furniture, surgical lights, booms, equipment) should be damp dusted before the first scheduled surgical or other invasive procedure of the day.

    Resource:

    • Guideline for environmental cleaning. In: Guidelines for Perioperative Practice. Denver, CO: AORN, Inc.

    Updated March 29, 2016

  • Do environmental service personnel have to follow the surgical attire guidelines

    Yes. All personnel entering the semirestricted area should follow the AORN Guideline for Surgical Attire, including:

    • donning clean scrub attire that has been laundered at a health care-accredited laundry facility before entering the semirestricted area;
    • completely covering their arms with a long-sleeved scrub top or jacket;
    • wearing shoe covers or clean shoes that are dedicated for use within the perioperative area;
    • wearing a clean surgical head cover or hood that confines all hair and completely covers the ears, scalp skin, sideburns, and nape of the neck; and
    • changing into street clothes whenever they go outside of the building.

    Resource:

    • Guideline for surgical attire. In: Guidelines for Perioperative Practice. Denver, CO: AORN, Inc.

    Updated March 29, 2016

  • Are alcohol wipes appropriate for cleaning surfaces in the operating room?

    Alcohol should not be used for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces in the operating room because alcohol is not an adequate cleaning and disinfecting agent. When used as an ingredient in an EPA-registered disinfectant product, alcohol may be acceptable for disinfection in the OR pending product approval by a multidisciplinary team (eg, perioperative services, environmental services, infection prevention) and consideration of the product's flammability.

    Resources:

    • Guideline for environmental cleaning. In: Guidelines for Perioperative Practice. Denver, CO: AORN, Inc.
    • Blanchard, J. Use of alcohol wipes for perioperative cleaning and disinfection. [Clinical Issues]. AORN J. 2011;94(5):503-504.

    Updated March 29, 2016