Cleaning news roundup: Reducing bacteria in a commercial setting

February 5th, 2016 Category: Commercial

Some of the UK’s most expensive hotels have more germs and bacteria than their cheaper counterparts, new research has found.

A study unveiled by Travelmath tested a number of different hotel guest room surfaces for bacteria linked with ailments including skin infections and pneumonia.

It sent a team to nine different hotels to gather 36 samples as part of the research.

Analysts swabbed various objects such as the desk, bathroom counter, telephone and remote control in a range of three, four and five-star US hotels.

Bacteria levels in colony-forming units (CFUs) – the number of viable bacteria cells within a sample – were assessed.

The report found that the average hotel room appears to be dirtier than a typical home, an aeroplane and even a school.

Although bacteria and viruses are everywhere, the study showed that public spaces especially can be a haven for them. 

The germ count was found to be generally higher in the four and five-star hotels. Furthermore, most bacteria were found on the bathroom counters of four-star hotels – with over 2.5 million bacteria levels in colony-forming units. The remote control in five-star hotels came in a close second with more than two million CFUs.

Desks were also found to be a hotbed for unpleasant germs. In contrast, the smallest colonies of bacteria were found on the phones of hotels (just 4,252 CFUs) and this is thought to be due to the fact most people have their own phones.

Speaking about the findings, Travelmath outreach manager Cristina Lachowyn said: “The results were a surprise for us. Five-star hotels are known for those extra amenities, extra services and extra luxury so one would assume that the extra money you're spending for those extra stars would also go into housekeeping."

The analysis showed that three-star hotels tend to offer well-appointed rooms, with limited service offerings. They were also the least germ-ridden.

In a three star hotel, the dirtiest surface was the bathroom counter, which contained an average of only 320,000 CFU/sq in.

This is around eight times less than a four-star hotel room and three times fewer than a five-star hotel room.

Similarly, the bathroom counter was the most bacteria-laden surface (in fact, it was the single dirtiest surface among all spaces), followed by the desk. In the three-star hotels, the bathroom counter was the dirtiest, followed by the remote.

Different types of germs were also observed in hotel rooms. For example, in three-star hotels, the remote control tended to harbor Bacillus spp, which could be associated with various infections, including respiratory and gastrointestinal. 

Yeast was present in the bathrooms in three-star hotels. Bacillus spp dominated on the remote and telephone in four star hotels, while the brunt of bacteria were gram negative, though the phone was rife with gram-positive cocci in five star hotels.

There are however, a number of ways that Brits can reduce the number of germs present.

The research showed that hand-washing has been found to reduce the risk of respiratory infections by 16 per cent. Disinfecting helped to further reduce bacterial levels.

A smart solution to smartphone germs?

A new sanitiser claims to be able to reduce the amount of harmful germs on smartphones in under 30 seconds.

According to healthcare technology company Seal Shield, its Sky family of UVC Sanitisers is designed to kill bacteria and viruses on the hard-to-clean phone surfaces.

It is claimed to be the world's first UV Sanitiser to kill more than 99.95 per cent of pathogens in less than 30 seconds.

The sanitiser is designed for use in hospitals to protect patients and practitioners from dangerous cross-contamination infections.

It cited a separate study published in the Journal of Applied Microbiology, which warns that "20 per cent to 30 per cent of viruses can be readily transferred from a fingertip to a glass surface, like that on a touch screen." 

Speaking about the developments, Seal Shield chief executive Brad Whitchurch explained: "Mobile device hygiene is imperative in today's pathogen rich environments. Sky was designed to be easy to use and it can safely disinfect virtually any mobile device in under 30 seconds."