CDC Recommends Fluorescent Powder and Fluorescent Gel; Options for Evaluating Environmental Cleaning

posted Oct 25, 2011, 9:15 PM by Todd Fox   [ updated Sep 24, 2016, 8:26 AM ]
Fluorescent powder and gel has been used in the medical, education and food safety industries for many years now.  Professionals all around the world have taught millions of hygiene and infection control lessons to nurses, infection preventionists, doctors, house cleaning staff, janitors, teachers, students, restaurant managers, food handlers, bankers and others that handle potentially infectious materials.

Fluorescent powder and fluorescent gel (we distribute Glo Germ and Glitterbug) has many uses when used in conjunction with a UV lamp (black light) and an effective infection control lesson.  
Simulation germs can be applied on hands for hand hygiene training (apply before hand washing and then check the spots that were missed).  Students can find out how to fully get all the germs off while washing their hands.  Hand washing training with the lotion, gel or powder can be used with any age or job position.

Fluorescent germs are very effective for environmental cleaning training and verification as well.  House cleaning staff and other janitor types benefit from seeing the effects of the fluorescent powder or gel under a black light.  
Place the powder or gel on door knobs, walls, carts, beds, floors, machines and other areas that have a high touch frequency.  For, areas that are frequently touched will likely have the highest concentration of germs.  The following is an excerpt from the CDC Website from Appendix B of the Conceptual Program Model for Environmental Evaluation:  
(use the link to see the full Appendix B)

Options for Evaluating Environmental Cleaning Appendices to the Conceptual Program Model for Environmental Evaluation

Appendix B:    Objective Methods for Evaluating Environmental Hygiene

Fluorescent Markers – Fluorescent gel, powder, and lotion have all been developed for the purpose of marking high touch objects prior to room cleaning. While the powder and lotion have been used as part of educational interventions, their overt visibility (lotions and powder), ease with which they can be disturbed (powder), and difficulty with easy removal (lotion if allowed to air dry) may limit their use in a monitoring system and there is little or no published experience in their use for this purpose.
In contrast, the fluorescent gel dries transparent on surfaces, resists abrasion, and there are several studies demonstrating the accuracy of the system in objectively evaluating cleaning practice and quantifying the impact of educational interventions on such cleaning.[4,5] Because these fluorescent markers are all designed to indicate physical removal of an applied substance, surfaces that are effectively disinfected but less effectively cleaned may be more likely flagged as failing to meet a quality standard using one of these markers than one of the culture techniques.

The application of the fluorescent germs can be done with the environmental cleaning staff knowing about the test or it can be done in secret to verify.  When conducting a training, apply the simulation germs across the desired surface.  Let the gel dry or powder settle.  Show the trainees the germs with the UV lamp to visualize how the area is lit under the black light.  Instruct one or many trainees to clean the area the way it has been taught to them.  Use the UV lamp once more to show the spots (germs) that were missed that could potentially spread illness and disease if the fluorescent materials were real germs.  Use time immediately after to discuss environmental cleaning principles and processes that will help your staff achieve more sanitary results.  Emphasize their role in the organization’s infection control plan.

When applying the fluorescent germs in secret, select an area, apply the germs and enter it in a verification log.  Keeping a log of the areas being tested will allow you to remember where and when to check.  The log should also help keep track of those staff members that are in charge of cleaning the area at a certain time.  
The cleaning check can be done with or without the staff member present.  Simply take the UV lamp to see how well the area was cleaned or not cleaned.  In many instances, the germs are not cleaned up, but merely spread across the area.  Use the time after the verification to instruct the staff member about correct cleaning procedures.

You should be careful while using the fluorescent powder or gel during a training.  If a staff member was tested and belittled due to the lack of sanitation, he/she may respond poorly to future trainings and tests.  OUTFOX Prevention has found that conducting the trainings with a fun attitude works best.  Many trainers have used the fluorescent germs to conduct effective competitions that drives performance and improves attitudes toward infection control.

In addition to using tools such as fluorescent powder or fluorescent gel, OUTFOX recommends lessons that help improve the mindset of the organization’s employees.  The OUTFOX Mindset is one such lesson that helps get all employees aligned with an effective infection control program.  
Only at times when each employee, department and manager are working together can Hospital Acquired Infections be overcome.  It only takes one member of a team to thwart the efforts of everyone else.  If you would like information about The OUTFOX Mindset click the link or contact us