What is Terminal Cleaning?

Posted on October 5, 2023

Hospitals are considered sanctuaries of healing. They play an integral role in providing patient care and helping patients recover from their ailments. Ironically, this essential service can also be a source of germs and pathogens that can make other people sick.

Patients come and go – and bring disease agents with them. These health threats can occupy surfaces like tables and beds or even be suspended in the air. As the threat of more severe diseases increases, regular cleaning activities become insufficient in eliminating the risk. This is where terminal cleaning becomes crucial in combating the propagation of diseases in hospital environments.

What is terminal cleaning? And how is terminal cleaning in operating rooms performed? Read on below to find out.

What is Terminal Cleaning?

Terminal cleaning is a meticulous method that deeply cleans and disinfects the entire facility. Unlike regular cleaning, which usually only tackles visible dirt, terminal cleaning goes everywhere. It deeply cleans every room to eliminate pathogens from surfaces to equipment to specific areas.

Terminal cleaning is a powerful defense against infections. By covering all bases, terminal cleaning keeps patients, healthcare workers, and visitors safe by minimizing the risk of disease transmission. It goes above aesthetics, ensuring a clean, secure environment that ensures the safety and well-being of patients and medical staff alike.

Why is Terminal Cleaning Important?

Terminal cleaning is crucial in healthcare settings where the spread of infectious diseases is high. The potential for spreading germs is high in hospitals where people seeking care come together.

Whereas regular medical cleaning takes care of visible dirt and addresses common sources of infection, terminal cleaning goes beyond this. It disinfects surfaces like hospital beds, floors, and walls to surgical and other patient care equipment and other infected areas.

This thorough process eliminates harmful microorganisms, keeping patients safe, healthcare workers healthy, and the healthcare system effective.

When is Terminal Cleaning Performed?

Medical cleaners and hospital staff perform everyday routine tasks to disinfect patient rooms and other areas and maintain an orderly environment. But when is terminal cleaning performed?

Terminal cleaning is reserved for specific situations that demand a higher level of hygiene. These include the following situations:

  • Infectious Disease Outbreaks: When the hospital or healthcare facility experiences an outbreak of infectious diseases, you can count on terminal cleaning to help contain it. Deep cleaning on surfaces helps eliminate disease agents that may become the source of another outbreak, protecting vulnerable patients from disease and infections. 
  • Patient Discharge or Transfer: Following a patient’s discharge or transfer after battling a known infection, terminal cleaning helps prepare the room for the next occupant. This helps curb the transmission of diseases to future patients.
  • Post-Isolation/Contact Precaution Nursing: Patients who deal with a serious or highly contagious disease are isolated for treatment and containment. These environments become a hotbed of infectious agents, but terminal cleaning can help eliminate the sources of infection.

What Steps Are Involved in Terminal Cleaning?

Terminal cleaning is a detailed process that goes deeper than regular cleaning to ensure healthcare places are disinfected and sanitized properly. It involves a few essential cleaning steps, as described below:

Item Removal

The initial step in the terminal cleaning process involves removing clutter and other items inside the room. This helps remove possibly infected items while freeing up space to access hidden spots and corners often overlooked during regular cleaning. 

Common items removed during this phase include:

  • Clinical waste
  • Personal belongings
  • Disposable items
  • Medical supplies and equipment
  • Trash
  • Used linens
  • Ornaments and other decorative items

Deep Cleaning 

After decluttering the space, cleaners will perform a deep cleaning inside the room. From the highest point to the lowest – and everything else in between – every surface is given careful attention to remove visible dirt, grime, and dust. Deep cleaning also acts as a preliminary cleaning phase that paves the way for eliminating harmful pathogens, germs, and other sources of contamination.

Thorough Disinfection

The core aspect of terminal cleaning involves sufficiently disinfecting every inch of a given space. During this phase, cleaners use special chemicals and disinfectants to eradicate disease agents.

Cleaners can use manual or electrostatic sprayers to create a fine mist allowing disinfectant to cling to the cleaned surface. They then allow sufficient contact time before being wiped or rinsed to ensure the procedure’s effectiveness, 

Meticulous Inspection

Terminal cleaning doesn’t end at disinfection. Cleaners must conduct a thorough assessment of the space to validate the results of the treatment. Or in some cases, the inspection verifies whether a second treatment is needed before the space is declared safe for use. This step is crucial to eliminate all doubt about the cleanliness of the area.

Staff Training

An essential aspect of terminal cleaning is ensuring that the cleaning staff understands the cleaning standards they have to meet and the protocols to follow. Proper training equips the cleaners with knowledge of how terminal cleaning is performed and the best practices for maintaining cleanliness and safety. 

This should be regularly conducted in order to stay informed about new diseases and evolving techniques that help keep the hospital environment conducive to healing and recovery.

Step-by-Step Instructions in Terminal Cleaning in Operation Rooms

Terminal cleaning requires a systematic approach. Here’s a sample process of how it’s done:

  1. Preparation: Gather all the necessary cleaning supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE) before entering the contaminated space. This may include gloves, aprons, masks, disinfectants, and cleaning tools. In more extreme cases, you may need to wear a hazmat suit for complete protection.
  2. Waste Disposal and Decluttering: Before starting the disinfection process, remove any items that can be discarded, such as used towels, disposable items, used linens, and other clinical waste. Decluttering the area helps create a clear space for effective cleaning and disinfection.
  3. Surface Cleaning: Clean surfaces with soap and water to remove visible dirt and debris. This initial step helps prepare the surfaces for the disinfection process.
  4. Selecting Disinfectants: Choose appropriate disinfectants based on the type of microorganisms you’re targeting. Different disinfectants work against different germs, so it’s crucial to choose the right one for the situation.
  5. Application: Apply the chosen disinfectant to surfaces using a clean cloth or mop. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dilution and contact time. In some cases, electrostatic sprayers may be used. These devices create a fine mist of disinfectant that clings to surfaces evenly, providing thorough coverage.
  6. High-Touch Areas: Pay special attention to high-touch areas such as doorknobs, light switches, remote controls, surgical equipment, and bed rails, among others.
  7. Allowing Sufficient Contact Time: Some disinfectants require a certain amount of time to stay wet on the surface to kill germs effectively. Let the disinfectant sit on the surface for the recommended contact time. 
  8. Rinsing: Some disinfectants require rinsing after application. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to determine if rinsing is necessary, and if so, use clean water to rinse surfaces.
  9. Drying: After the contact time or rinsing, allow the surfaces to air dry. This helps prevent recontamination.
  10. Equipment Cleaning: If medical equipment or devices are in the area, ensure that they are adequately cleaned and disinfected according to the manufacturer’s guidelines.
  11. Proper Disposal: Dispose of used cleaning materials and contaminated waste properly, following medical waste disposal guidelines.
  12. Final Check: After disinfection, perform a last check to ensure that all surfaces have been properly treated and are free from visible dirt and contaminants.

Enhance Your Healthcare Cleaning Standards With JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting

Patients come to hospitals to receive treatment and recover from their ailments. As the main healthcare provider, hospital management must provide a safe space conducive to healing and recovery. This also enables healthcare workers and hospital staff to perform their jobs safely and effectively.

Enhance the standards of cleanliness in your medical facility by partnering with terminal cleaning experts. As a leading provider of hospital cleaning services, JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting provides comprehensive terminal cleaning treatments to help keep your facility clean from harmful pathogens.

*Cleaning and disinfecting services provided by independently owned and operated JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting franchisees.