Web Zap*Germs Archive

April 06, 2006

Cleaners Without Bleach Make C-Diff Stronger

Only cleaners with bleach appear to kill active Clostridium difficile (c-diff) bacteria, plus their spores. In fact, the use of non-bleach-containing cleaners actually seems to encourage the bacteria to form more spores -- which under the right conditions will grow and infect humans.

(If bacteria produce more spores, they have greater potential to survive for long periods of time in the hospital environment.)

Researchers at the University of Leeds tested the effect of five cleaning products on different strains of C. difficile, and found the bacteria produced more spores when exposed to two chemicals that did not contain bleach.

The two non-bleach cleaners were a commonly-used hospital detergent, and a disinfectant containing hydrogen peroxide.

Research professor Mark Wilcox said that while it was not always practical to use bleach in hospitals -- as it was corrosive and unpleasant to handle -- he said bleach should always be used where there is a tangible threat of C. difficile infection. More.

(I hope this news makes its way to Irish hospitals.)

Though the study didn't provide the brand names of any of the tested cleaners, it's easy for anyone to mix their own chlorine bleach-based disinfectant cleaner.


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