Everything You Need To Know About Operating Room Cleaning

Posted on March 26, 2024

Besides investing in modern equipment and having the most skilled surgeons, another crucial factor influences the success of your surgeries and your patients’ recovery: your operating room cleaning routine. 

Operating rooms (ORs) require more thorough disinfection than other spaces in your healthcare facility. The patient, the medical team, surfaces, or objects can all carry contaminants. Even the air can contain dust, skin squames, respiratory droplets, and other substances.

With all these factors on top of the vulnerability of patients and the potential for cross-contamination, adhering to rigorous operating room cleaning guidelines helps you minimize risks and ensure safety. 

Operating Room Cleaning Guidelines 

To disinfect and sterilize your ORs effectively, your cleaning staff must follow specific procedures. The following sections delve into everything you need to know about operating room cleaning. 

Beginning-of-Day Cleaning 

A thorough cleaning routine before the day’s procedures eliminates any pathogens that may have settled overnight. This routine helps establish a baseline of cleanliness and ensures every surgery starts in an environment with a minimized risk of infection transmission. It also allows you to check for equipment issues or necessary restocking, ensuring your OR is fully equipped and functional for the day’s schedule. 

Here are some essential tasks to cover in your beginning-of-day OR cleaning routine: 

  • Wipe down all hard surfaces with an EPA-registered disinfectant. 
  • Clean surgical lights, tables, and any stationary equipment. 
  • Pay special attention to high-touch areas like door handles, computers, and control panels. 
  • Mop the floors with a hospital-grade disinfectant. 
  • Perform an inventory check and restock all necessary supplies, including sterile instruments, sutures, and drapes. 
  • Ensure all surgical instruments have been properly sterilized and are ready for use. 
  • Check that ventilation systems are functioning correctly. 
  • Replace or clean air filters as needed. 

Cleaning In Between Each Patient 

A meticulous cleaning routine between surgeries is crucial to eliminate any biological hazards that might compromise patient outcomes or the integrity of future procedures. Beyond safeguarding the patient on the operating table, thorough cleaning also shields your healthcare professionals from potential pathogens. 

A cleaning checklist for this period generally includes the following: 

  • Pay extra attention to frequently handled areas, such as surgical lights, tables, and equipment controls. 
  • Cleaning and sterilizing the operating table and all nearby surfaces to remove blood, bodily fluids, and tissue. 
  • Cleaning anesthesia carts, monitors, and equipment stands to mitigate the risk of airborne contaminants. 
  • Removing and replacing all linen, gowns, towels, and other cloths inside the OR, including those that look “clean.” 
  • Cleaning the entire OR from floors and walls to ceilings and fixtures. 
  • Keeping a record of cleaning procedures and times to help track quality and consistency. 

End-of-Day Cleaning 

After a day of surgeries, an operating room may contain various contaminants like biological matter and potentially infectious agents. However, it’s best to clean all ORs, including unused ones, at the end of the day, as staff may have walked in and out to get items throughout the day. 

Here’s what your routine wrap-up cleaning may look like: 

  • Disposing of all used materials and waste products securely. 
  • Cleaning and sterilizing surgical instruments. 
  • Wiping down all surfaces to remove dust and potential contaminants. 
  • Mopping the floors with appropriate disinfectants. 
  • Ensuring that ventilation systems are functioning correctly. 

Other Tips for Cleaning ORs More Effectively 

  • Work from dirtier to cleaner areas. Following this system keeps you from unnecessarily spreading dirt and pathogens to cleaner areas. 
  • Consistency is key. Adhering to a standard cleaning protocol every day establishes a routine that minimizes the chances of overlooking essential tasks. 
  • Use checklists. Utilize detailed checklists to guide the cleaning process and ensure no step is missed. It’s also a good idea to keep a log of all cleaning activities performed to keep track of compliance and address any gaps in the cleaning process. 
  • Do quality checks. Implement regular audits by supervising staff to ensure cleaning meets the required standards. 

Reduce the Risks of Infection and Contribute to Successful Surgical Outcomes With Meticulous OR Cleaning 

Investing time and resources into your operating room cleaning is a non-negotiable aspect of healthcare facility management. By following best practices and adhering to industry standards, you can provide your patients and healthcare team with a clean, safe, and compliant surgical environment.  

If you lack the human resources, equipment, or systems to clean your operating rooms thoroughly, it’s best to work with trusted names in medical office and healthcare cleaning, like JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting. 

Service providers use HEPA filter vacuums, hospital-grade disinfectants, and eco-friendly disinfection methods to keep your facility safe for patients and staff. Certified franchisees have undergone rigorous training on medical cleaning regulations to service your operating room with proper cleaning techniques. 

Discover the difference JAN-PRO Cleaning & Disinfecting can make on your facility’s cleanliness. Schedule your free estimate today. 


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