Environmental Cleaning and Decontamination to Prevent Clostridioides difficile Infection in Health Care Settings: A Systematic Review

J Patient Saf. 2020 Sep;16(3S Suppl 1):S12-S15. doi: 10.1097/PTS.0000000000000749.


Objective: The aim of this systematic review was to examine the most effective and feasible methods for environmental cleaning and decontamination to prevent Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) in health care settings.

Methods: A systematic search of the databases CINAHL and MEDLINE was conducted from 2008 to 2018 for English language articles with search terms including "Clostridium difficile," and related medical subject headings, in combination with terms like "disinfection," "decontamination," and "no-touch decontamination."

Results: Twelve studies and 2 systematic reviews were selected for inclusion in this review. The studies were primarily in hospitals (10/12) and used a before-after approach. The studied interventions included cleaning and decontamination with a chlorine-based agent (i.e., bleach; 2 studies), standard cleaning plus the use of hydrogen peroxide decontamination (3 studies), and standard bleach cleaning plus the use of ultraviolet light decontamination (6 studies), and there was 1 study about launderable bed covers. The interventions ranged in frequency, duration, and the area selected for cleaning and decontamination (e.g., all patient rooms versus only CDI patients' rooms). Studies showed significant reductions in CDI associated with use of bleach (versus quaternary ammonium compound) and hydrogen peroxide decontamination after standard bleach cleaning (versus bleach cleaning alone). Four of 6 studies found significant reductions in CDI after the implementation of ultraviolet light decontamination after standard bleach cleaning.

Conclusions: The studied practices for environmental cleaning and decontamination were associated with significant decreases in facility-level CDI rates in most of the reviewed studies; however, study quality was low. Implementation challenges are worthy of further examination.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Clostridioides / pathogenicity*
  • Clostridium Infections / prevention & control*
  • Cross Infection / prevention & control*
  • Decontamination / methods*
  • Delivery of Health Care / standards*
  • Disinfection / methods*
  • Humans
  • Patients' Rooms / standards*