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J Hosp Infect. 2001 Aug;48 Suppl A:S64-8.

Surface disinfection: should we do it?

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  • 1Division of Infectious Diseases, University of North Carolina Health Care System, UNC School of Medicine, Chapel Hill 27514, USA.


The effective use of disinfectants constitutes an important factor in preventing hospital-acquired infections. Surfaces are considered non-critical items as they come in contact with intact skin. Use of non-critical items or contact with non-critical surfaces carries little risk of transmitting a pathogen to patients. Thus, the routine use of disinfectants to disinfect hospital floors and other non-critical items is controversial. However, surfaces may potentially contribute to cross-transmission by acquisition of transient hand carriage by health care personnel due to contact with a contaminated surface or by patient contact with contaminated surfaces or medical equipment. This paper reviews the epidemiological and microbiological data regarding the use of disinfectants on non-critical surfaces. It concludes that while non-critical surfaces are uncommonly associated with transmission of infections to patients, one should clean and disinfect surfaces on a regularly scheduled basis.

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