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Table 2 Glossary of terms

From: Keeping hospitals clean and safe without breaking the bank; summary of the Healthcare Cleaning Forum 2018

Term Definition
Antisepsis Destruction or inhibition of microorganisms in or on living tissue, e.g., on the skin or mucous membranes [29].
Automated disinfection Disinfection using machines instead of manual application. Examples incl. Hydrogen peroxide vapor and UV light machines.
Cleaning General term for the removal of soil.
Cleaning & disinfection Removal of soil and killing of microbes.
Decontamination The neutralization or removal of dangerous substances, radioactivity, or germs from an object, area or person [29].
Detergents Water-soluble cleansing agents which combine with impurities and dirt to make them more soluble, and differ from soap in not forming a scum with the salts in hard water [30].
Disinfectants/disinfecting agents Agents capable of destroying pathogenic microorganisms or inhibiting their growth activity [31]. Especially: chemicals that destroy vegetative forms of harmful microorganisms (such as bacteria and fungi) especially on inanimate objects but that may be less effective in destroying spores [32].
Disinfecting detergents The combination of a detergent with a disinfecting agent for the simultaneous removal of soil and the killing of microbes.
Disinfection The antimicrobial reduction of the number of viable micro-organisms to a level previously specified as appropriate for its intended further handling or use [29].
Environmental hygiene Cleaning and/or disinfection of a specific environment.
Environmental hygiene personnel People in charge of cleaning and disinfecting, and maintaining the hospital environment.
Environmental hygiene services Service within a hospital that takes care of cleaning and hygiene of the environment.
Fumigation To apply smoke, vapor, or gas especially for the purpose of disinfecting or of destroying pests [33]. In the past, this term was often used to mean automatic disinfection. In the context of environmental hygiene, the “pests” part of the definition does not usually apply.
Pasteurization Disinfection, usually by heat, of microorganisms that can be harmful or cause product spoilage. Frequently applied for preservation. The prevention of the multiplication of microorganisms in products [29].
Resistance The inability of an anti-infective or biocide to be effective against a target microorganism [29].
Sanitization Disinfection of microorganisms that pose a threat to public health [29].
Sterilization Defined process used to render a surface or product free from viable organisms, including bacterial spores [29]. It also frequently includes the objective of allowing the maintenance of the sterile state.
Terminal cleaning Cleaning and disinfection of a room after a patient carrying a dangerous/resistant pathogen leaves the room.
Tolerance Decreased effect of an active agent against a target microorganism and requiring increased concentration or other effects to be effective [29].
  1. In General
  2. a) Surfaces can be processed by detergent cleaning, disinfection, or a combination of the two (detergent plus disinfectant)
  3. b) Medical devices require a pre-disinfection (immediately after use to prevent biofilm) including (or not) mechanical cleaning, followed by disinfection or sterilization