Pathogen transfer and high variability in pathogen removal by detergent wipes


      The rise in health care-associated infections has placed a greater emphasis on cleaning and disinfection practices. The majority of policies advocate using detergent-based products for routine cleaning, with detergent wipes increasingly being used; however, there is no information about their ability to remove and subsequently transfer pathogens in practice.


      Seven detergent wipes were tested for their ability to remove and transfer Staphylococcus aureus, Acinetobacter baumannii, and Clostridium difficile spores using the 3-stage wipe protocol.


      The ability of the detergent wipes to remove S aureus, A baumannii, and C difficile spores from a stainless steel surface ranged from 1.50 log10 (range, 0.24-3.25), 3.51 log10 (range, 3.01-3.81), and 0.96 log10 (range, 0.26-1.44), respectively, following a 10-second wiping time. All wipes repeatedly transferred significant amounts of bacteria/spores over 3 consecutive surfaces, although the percentage of total microorganisms transferred from the wipes after wiping was low for a number of products.


      Detergent-based wipe products have 2 major drawbacks: their variability in removing microbial bioburden from inanimate surfaces and a propensity to transfer pathogens between surfaces. The use of additional complementary measures such as combined detergent/disinfectant-based products and/or antimicrobial surfaces need to be considered for appropriate infection control and prevention.

      Key Words

      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to American Journal of Infection Control
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Yu Y.
        • Zhao J.
        • Bayly A.E.
        Development of surfactants and builders in detergent formulations.
        Chin J Chem Engin. 2008; 16: 517-527
        • Loveday H.
        • Wilson J.A.
        • Pratt R.J.
        • Golsorkhi M.
        • Tingle A.
        • Bak A.
        • et al.
        epic3: national evidence-based guidelines for preventing healthcare-associated infections in NHS hospitals in England.
        J Hosp Infect. 2014; 86: 1-70
        • Kramer A.
        • Schwebke I.
        • Kampf G.
        How long do nosocomial pathogens persist on inanimate surfaces? A systematic review.
        BMC Infect Dis. 2006; 6: 130
        • Kramer A.
        • Assadian O.
        Survival of microorganisms on inanimate surfaces.
        in: Borkow G. Use of Biocidal Surfaces for Reduction of Healthcare Acquired Infections. Springer International Publishing, 2014: 7-26
        • Siani H.
        • Maillard J.-Y.
        Best practice in healthcare environment decontamination.
        Eur J Infect Control Infect Dis. 2014; 34: 1-11
        • Otter J.A.
        • Yezli S.
        • French G.L.
        The role of contaminated surfaces in the transmission of nosocomial pathogens.
        in: Borkow G. Use of Biocidal Surfaces for Reduction of Healthcare Acquired Infections. Springer International Publishing, 2014: 27-58
        • Bergen L.K.
        • Meyer M.
        • Høg M.
        • Rubenhagen B.
        • Andersen L.P.
        Spread of bacteria on surfaces when cleaning with microfibre cloths.
        J Hosp Infect. 2009; 71: 132-137
        • Moore G.
        • Griffith C.
        A laboratory evaluation of the decontamination properties of microfibre cloths.
        J Hosp Infect. 2006; 64: 379-385
        • Wren M.
        • Rollins M.
        • Jeanes A.
        • Hall T.
        • Coën P.G.
        • Gant V.A.
        Removing bacteria from hospital surfaces: a laboratory comparison of ultramicrofibre and standard cloths.
        J Hosp Infect. 2008; 70: 265-271
        • Siani H.
        • Cooper C.
        • Maillard J.-Y.
        Efficacy of “sporicidal” wipes against Clostridium difficile.
        Am J Infect Control. 2011; 39: 212-218
        • Cadnum J.L.
        • Hurless K.N.
        • Kundrapu S.
        • Donskey C.J.
        Transfer of Clostridium difficile spores by nonsporicidal wipes and improperly used hypochlorite wipes: practice + product = perfection.
        Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2013; 34: 441-442
        • Boyce J.M.
        • Havill N.L.
        Evaluation of a new hydrogen peroxide wipe disinfectant.
        Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2013; 34: 521-523
        • Williams G.J.
        • Denyer S.P.
        • Hosein I.K.
        • Hill D.W.
        • Maillard J.Y.
        The development of a new three-step protocol to determine the efficacy of disinfectant wipes on surfaces contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus.
        J Hosp Infect. 2007; 67: 329-335
        • Williams G.J.
        • Denyer S.P.
        • Hosein I.K.
        • Hill D.W.
        • Maillard J.Y.
        Limitations of the efficacy of surface disinfection in the healthcare setting.
        Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2009; 30: 570-573
        • Meyer K.M.
        • Tufts J.A.
        • Calfee M.W.
        • Oudejans L.
        Efficacy of sporicidal wipes for inactivation of a Bacillus anthracis surrogate.
        J Appl Microbiol. 2014; 117: 1634-1644
        • Lopez G.U.
        • Kitajima M.
        • Havas A.
        • Gerba C.P.
        • Reynolds K.A.
        Evaluation of a disinfectant wipe Intervention on Fomite-to-Finger microbial transfer.
        Appl Environ Microbiol. 2014; 80: 3113-3118
        • Perez J.
        • Springthorpe V.S.
        • Sattar S.A.
        Clospore: a liquid medium for producing high titers of semi-purified spores of Clostridium difficile.
        J AOAC Int. 2011; 94: 618-626
        • ‘Comité Européen de Normalisation (CEN)’
        • EN 13727:2007–Chemical disinfectants and antiseptics
        Quantitative suspension test for the evaluation of bactericidal activity in the medical area. Test method and requirements (phase 2, step 1).
        Comité Européen de Normalisation, Brussels, Belgium2007
        • Knapp L.
        • Rushton L.
        • Stapleton H.
        • Sass A.
        • Stewart S.
        • Amezquita A.
        • et al.
        The effect of cationic microbicide exposure against Burkholderia cepacia complex (Bcc); the use of Burkholderia lata strain 383 as a model bacterium.
        J Appl Microbiol. 2013; 115: 1117-1126
        • Hirai Y.
        Survival of bacteria under dry conditions; from a viewpoint of nosocomial infection.
        J Hosp Infect. 1991; 19: 191-200
        • Potts M.
        • Slaughter S.M.
        • Hunneke F.-U.
        • Garst J.F.
        • et al.
        Desiccation tolerance of prokaryotes: application of principles to human cells.
        Integr Comp Biol. 2005; 45: 800-809
        • Smith S.M.
        • Eng R.H.
        • Padberg Jr., F.T.
        Survival of nosocomial pathogenic bacteria at ambient temperature.
        J Med. 1995; 27: 293-302
        • Otter J.A.
        • French G.L.
        Survival of nosocomial bacteria and spores on surfaces and inactivation by hydrogen peroxide vapor.
        J Clin Microbiol. 2009; 47: 205-207
        • Smith D.L.
        • Gillanders S.
        • Holah J.T.
        • Gush C.
        Assessing the efficacy of different microfibre cloths at removing surface micro-organisms associated with healthcare-associated infections.
        J Hosp Infect. 2011; 78: 182-186
        • Tuladhar E.
        • Hazeleger W.C.
        • Koopmans M.
        • Zwietering M.H.
        • Beumer R.R.
        • Duizer E.
        Residual viral and bacterial contamination of surfaces after cleaning and disinfection.
        Appl Environ Microbiol. 2012; 78: 7769-7775
        • Sattar S.A.
        • Maillard J.-Y.
        The crucial role of wiping in decontamination of high-touch environmental surfaces: review of current status and directions for the future.
        Am J Infect Control. 2013; 41: S97-S104
        • Engelbrecht K.
        • Ambrose D.
        • Sifuentes L.
        • Gerba C.
        • Weart I.
        • Koenig D.
        Decreased activity of commercially available disinfectants containing quaternary ammonium compounds when exposed to cotton towels.
        Am J Infect Control. 2013; 41: 908-911
        • Lawley T.D.
        • Croucher N.J.
        • Yu L.
        • Clare S.
        • Sebaihia M.
        • Goulding D.
        • et al.
        Proteomic and genomic characterization of highly infectious Clostridium difficile 630 spores.
        J Bacteriol. 2009; 191: 5377-5386
        • Royal College of Nursing
        RCN Guidance on the selection and use of dicinfectant wipes.
        Royal College of Nursing, London2011
        • Salgado C.D.
        • Sepkowitz K.A.
        • John J.F.
        • Cantey J.R.
        • Attaway H.H.
        • Freeman K.D.
        • et al.
        Copper surfaces reduce the rate of healthcare-acquired infections in the intensive care unit.
        Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol. 2013; 34: 479-486