How long does it take to clean a hospital room properly?

Long hours don’t necessarily correlate with productive output. A lifetime’s practice does not necessarily make a champion tennis player. An old boss once told me that “practice doesn’t make perfect; perfect practice makes perfect”. I think there’s something in this that goes some way to explaining the findings of a recent study examining the time taken to clean a hospital room and the thoroughness of cleaning.

You would expect that longer cleaning times would result in more thorough room cleaning. However, the authors used a fluorescent marker to evaluate the thoroughness of cleaning and found no correlation between the length of time cleaning a room and the thoroughness of cleaning.


Since this was an assessment of “terminal cleaning” (when the patient was discharged) you would hope that the rates of cleaning for the items in the room would be high. However, the marker was removed from less than half marked sites, and only 5% of monitors were cleaned in the 40 rooms assessed. Disappointingly, there was no correlation between completion of a room a cleaning checklist and removal of the markers.

So, the efficacy of cleaning remains low, even at patient discharge, so it is not surprising that admission to a room previously occupied by a patient with certain multidrug-resistant organisms increases the risk of acquisition!

Article citation: Rupp et al. The time spent cleaning a hospital room does not correlate with the thoroughness of cleaning. Infect Control Hosp Epidemiol 2013;34:100-102.