Recommended current practice is to first clean the mattress surface in place with detergent and water, followed by rinsing, then use a chemical disinfectant at a pH approved by the manufacturer for the appropriate contact time, also followed by rinsing.
The problem is threefold:
1. The procedures are rarely completed properly, especially rinsing, negating the value of the process.
2. Cleaning, wiping, and treating with a chemical disinfectant tends to break down the mattress surface material making it more porous and increasing the likelihood of body fluid penetration to the mattress core itself.
3. The problem is compounded by the time required to properly clean and sanitize a mattress using a chemical intervention. It’s rarely done right. An improperly sanitized mattress surface, as well as the underlying mattress core can become a source of cross-contamination by passing along the pathogens of the previous bed’s occupant to the next patient using the bed.
UV devices are often promoted as turnkey solutions to disinfect patient rooms after one patient leaves and before another enters. In practice, the mattress is rarely fully exposed to the UV light during room treatment and UV-C cannot penetrate through bedding textiles.
Another method is removal of the mattress from the facility, then both mattress sides are vacuumed, exposed to UV light, dry steam, ozone, and infrared heat. Though the method is effective, it is relatively expensive and inappropriate for daily use in sanitizing hospital mattresses after room turnover. Also, a mattress cleaned in this way will quickly become recontaminated, negating the thoroughness of the process.
The Best Solution
Research shows certain launderable impervious-to-water mattress covers are the best solution in healthcare to protect mattresses and prevent exposures.
“This is a very effective method to prevent contamination of mattresses and related exposures,” notes Philip M. Tierno, Ph.D., Clinical Professor of Microbiology and Pathology at New York University, and author of the Secret Life of Germs, Observations and Lessons from a Microbe Hunter.
They are engineered to be laundered like sheets in that proper temperatures (hot water), machine and other laundry processing can be standardized for CDC compliance.
“These covers prevent mattresses from becoming sources of contagion and allergenic materials, while protecting a hospital’s capital investment in acute care bedding,” concludes J. Darrel Hicks, BA, Master REH, CHESP, author and infection prevention consultant.