Variation in hospital cleaning practice and process in Australian hospitals: a structured mapping exercise

Prof. Brett Mitchell1, Alison Farrington3, Prof Anne Gardner4, Dr Michelle Allen3, Dr Lisa Hall3, Prof Adrian Barnett3, Dr Kate Halton3, Dr Katie Page3, Prof Stephanie Dancer5,6, Prof Thomas Riley7, Prof Christian  Gericke8,9, Prof David Paterson10,11, Prof Nicholas Graves3 Ms Alison Farrington3

1Avondale College Of Higher Education, Wahroonga, Australia,

2Griffith University, , Australia,

3Queensland University of Technology, , Australia,

4Australian Catholic University, , Australia,

5Hairmyres Hospital, , United Kingdom,

6Edinburgh Napier University, , United Kingdom,

7University of Western Australia, , Australia,

8University of Queensland, , Australia,

9James Cook University, , Australia,

10Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital, , Australia, 11Wesley Medical Research, , Australia

Background: The purpose of this paper is highlight the variation of cleaning practices and processes in 11 Australian hospitals and to discuss the challenges this variation poses to the implementation of clinical trials and or changes to cleaning practice in hospitals.

 Methods: A cross-sectional study design was used to determine the cleaning practices and processes in hospitals participating in the ‘Researching Effective Approaches to Cleaning in Hospitals’ (REACH) study. A standardised data collection template and approach was used to collect information. Data collection activities included structured on-site discussions, a review of hospital practices and a document review of policy and procedural documents related to cleaning.

 Results: Variation in the auditing process used to evaluate environmental cleanliness, cleaning practices, products use, training and communication pathways available to cleaning staff were identified. There was also variation in workforce structure and responsibilities for cleaning.

 Conclusion: This paper is the first to describe variation in cleaning practices in Australian hospitals. The variation identified presents a number of challenges for the conduct of research and has important implications for both monitoring and standards for cleanliness. These challenges include implementing a practice change or cleaning study where hospitals have different processes, practices and structures.


Professor Brett Mitchell is a Professor of Nursing and Director of the Lifestyle Research Centre at Avondale College. He holds a honorary position at Griffith University and is the Editor-in-Chief of Infection, Disease and Health. Brett has over 100 peer reviewed journal and conference presentations. He is the Chair of an NHMRC committee revising the national infection control guidelines.

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