Staff perceptions of the cleanliness of surfaces can influence the choice of environmental cleaning products in a dental practice.

Dr Roslyn Franklin1

1Amalgamate, Millbridge, Australia


Human perception of the cleanliness of surfaces can influence how strictly dental staff follow infection control (IC) procedures. During an audit in a Perth dental practice conducted in 2019, I discovered that established routine environmental cleaning procedures were not being followed. A variety of disinfectant products were being used instead of neutral detergent wipes in environmental cleaning; a change not cleared with management. My role was to investigate the suitability of the introduced disinfectants, compare them with neutral detergents and recommend the most suitable environmental cleaning product/s.

Method or Actions:

A risk management approach was taken in which a variety of aspects were investigated including staff perceptions of cleanliness, various cleaning products’ composition and contact time, equipment manufacturer’s recommendations, bioburden of surfaces, and time management requirements.  I also conducted a review of the current literature, latest standards and guidelines, and liaised with industry experts.


While both disinfectants and detergent wipes can be effective in infection control, the disinfectants were not used correctly and there was concern about short and long-term effects on the surfaces and warranty requirements of dental equipment.  The product Clinell Universal wipes, a combined detergent and disinfectant, was recommended. This was well accepted by the practice manager, owner, and staff.


Human perception of surface cleanliness can cause unplanned changes in dental practice IC procedures, even when these perceptions are invalidated. This can lead to confusion and a breakdown of the established procedures. Regular IC audits are a vital tool in assisting with IC compliance.


Roslyn graduated from the University of Western Australia’s School of Dentistry in 1994. She worked in private and government dental practices before side-stepping to work as a trainer/assessor for dental assistants, and then in compliance in a registered training organisation. On re-entering the dental industry in 2015, Roslyn created her business, Amalgamate, in which she provides services and advice to dental practices on infection prevention & control (IP&C), work health & safety (WH&S) and accreditation.  With her motivation to always learn more, she completed a Certificate IV in WH&S in 2016 and a Graduate Certificate in IP&C at Griffith University in 2018.

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