Common spills we encounter take place in the kitchen or in the bathroom, involving mostly water, juice, milk, are generally pretty straightforward in terms of cleanup, but how about more sensitive spills, like those involving blood, vomit, feces, or other body fluids? Do we clean them up the same way?
Best practices suggest that these type of spills, referred to as Body Fluid Spills (BFSs) be treated differently, as contact with them could result in illnesses related to the spill, thus endangering your health. Prudent handling of sensitive spills should therefore be practiced, especially if there are children or other vulnerable or immunocompromised members of the household or workplace.
Immediate response to the spill is recommended, since prolonged contact time of this type of spill with the surface increases the formation of biofilm, making the bacteria from these spills up to 1,000 times more resistant to cleaners and disinfectants. Extended contact time also strengthens the bacteria’s attachment to the surface, and to each other.
Biofilm is a protective film formed by bacteria within an hour of falling on a hard, moist surface. This acts like their armor, making it harder to reach the bacteria within the film. The best way to deter the formation of this film is to proactively keep surfaces in the kitchen, bathroom, and children’s bedrooms, clean and dry. By limiting bacteria’s source of water and food, we inhibit their growth and subsequent spread.
Recommended Response to Body Fluid Spills
- Inform household within the immediate vicinity of the presence of a spill, to ensure that they carefully avoid stepping over the contaminated area.
- Clean up. If you can have a spill kit prepared in advance, similar to a first aid kit, or an emergency preparedness kit, the better. This should contain:
- Disinfectant that may be used for blood spills on hard surfaces
- Cleaner for carpets
- Personal Protective Equipment: gloves, face mask, goggles
- Disposal bags
- Labeled bag for collection of contaminated clothing
Recommended tools for these would be:
- Absorbent and disposable paper towels
- Absorbent powder of available
- Disposable rags
- Tongs for removal of needles or broken glass that may be contaminated
Use the absorbent paper towels to cover the contaminated hard, non-porous area, and the dustpan to collect, remove, and transport the material to a designated disposal bin. Disposable rags are best for soaking up liquid substrates that may have gotten onto porous surfaces. This should be followed by a thorough washing and rinse, to completely remove any trace of the bacteria. Drying under the sun helps to further ensure that surface dries completely. UV radiation from sun exposure will aid in disinfection of porous surfaces, like carpets or towels as well.
Saturate the contaminated surface with disinfectant, leaving it visibly wet, for as long as it is recommended on the product label.
For spills on walls, spray the disinfectant directly, if possible. If not, apply first on a clean dry cloth, then wipe firmly on the area.
Dispose all material used to clean the contaminated area. For tongs and reusable PPEs, make sure to clean immediately in a separate cleaning facility, far from the kitchen or laundry area. Bear in mind that tools used to clean these instruments should be separate from the instruments used to clean dishes, as these would just spread germs around, and likely lead to further contamination.
6. Personal Cleaning
Have a labeled bag or bin ready to collect your contaminated clothing, and wash them immediately under high temperatures and dried on high heat to ensure total removal of harmful bacteria.
Once contaminated clothing is removed, immediately wash hands, and any other body part that may have potentially come into contact with the BFS or disinfectant, for a minimum of 30 seconds with running water and soap. Hand sanitizers will not work effectively against blood-borne pathogens.
Only allow contaminated area to be entered once it is fully clean and completely dry, and all spill kit materials have been removed.