Preventing The Spread of Germs in Medical Facilities


Germs are micro-organisms that can be very easily transferred between humans and objects.  The most common forms of germs are viruses, fungi, bacteria and protozoa.   They are very resilient, with some germs capable of living up to 5 months on dry surfaces.

Germs have the ability to spread a wide variety of diseases and illnesses.  In medical facilities or workplaces, germs can be spread very rapidly because people are working in close proximity with one another.  Germs are often spread through contact with objects like door handles, telephones, keyboards, computer screens, microwaves, bathroom taps and refrigerator handles.  They can also be spread via contaminated bodily fluids.

This article will discuss the most common types of germs before explaining how professional janitorial services deal with germs and bodily fluids within medical facilities.

What Types of Germs Are Common in a Workplace?


Bacteria is very common in workplaces.  It consists of microscopic single-cell organisms that feed off the environment around them to survive.  Human beings are covered in bacteria, however most bacteria is harmless and some bacteria plays a beneficial role in sustaining the human body. 

Unfortunately, some forms of bacteria can cause illness, including:

  • Staphylococci, which causes food poisoning
  • Streptococci, which causes strep throat and other illnesses and
  • E. coli, which causes food poisoning


Fungi are tiny organisms that are similar to plants.  Some types of fungi can be poisonous to humans and can cause a range of health conditions including skin rashes.  Fungi spores are very easy to spread.  It typically grows in locations that are warm and humid.


Viruses are complex organisms that live inside of cells.  Typically, most viruses will not survive for long outside of a cell.  They are often spread via direct human contact with bodily fluids or through very frequently used items like telephones or door knobs.


Protozoa are single-celled organisms that are capable of spreading diseases through water or bodily fluids.  Some of the diseases spread by protozoa include giardiasis, toxoplasmosis, cryptosporidiosis, and trichomoniasis.

How Are Germs Usually Spread?

door knob

The most common ways that germs are spread in a workplace include:

  • People sneezing and coughing
    This is the most common way that viruses like the human rhinovirus (the common cold) are spread.
  • People touching contaminated objects
    Germs that have been spread to an object are picked up by another person who transfers them elsewhere.
  • Bodily fluids
    Poor hygiene or improper cleaning can result in germs being spread via bodily fluids in the workplace.
  • Food or water contaminated by germs is touched or eaten
    Germs can be easily transmitted between people, objects and food.  Contaminated food is one of the leading causes of illnesses in workplaces.
  • Insects or small animals
    Cockroaches, mice, flies and other small creatures can spread germs through a workplace very rapidly.


How to Prevent the Spread of Germs in Medical Facilities

Professional janitorial cleaning services use a number of special techniques when cleaning medical facilities.  These techniques are designed to minimise the risk of germs spreading and to mitigate the risk of exposure to bodily fluids.

Cleaning Patient Rooms

gloves cleaning

Janitorial service providers must wear personal protective equipment when cleaning patient’s rooms.  This equipment can include gloves, face masks, eye protection and special aprons.  Janitors working in these medical environments receive training in the appropriate use of this equipment.

Cleaners must be very vigilant when performing common janitorial cleaning tasks like making a bed in medical facilities.  The NIH recommends that janitorial cleaning services observe the following precautions when cleaning a patient’s room:

  • Bed sheets must be removed without shaking them.  The sheets should be held away from the cleaner’s body and immediately placed into a special container.
  • Care must be taken to avoid any used needles or biohazardous material in the room
  • Wet or moist materials must be placed a plastic container to avoid contamination

Janitorial services must be very thorough when cleaning a patient’s room and pay close attention to light switches, bed railings, the bathroom, door handles, call buttons, tables, and floors.  Janitorial cleaning services must change the mops and cleaning liquid they use on a more frequent basis when cleaning medical facilities.

Cleaning Spills

The NIH also have some very strict procedures for cleaning spills involving bodily fluids.  These kinds of spills are very dangerous to handle and if handled improperly, may spread highly contagious illnesses throughout the facility.

Janitorial services use a variety of items to clean these kinds of spills including paper towels, biohazard bags, diluted bleach, forceps for picking up broken glass and personal protective equipment.

Once a spill has occurred, the janitor must restrict access to the area with barriers.  They will then cover the spill with paper towels to absorb as much moisture as possible.  The spill is then treated with the bleach spray to kill any germs that are present. Those materials are placed in the biohazard bag. 

Any broken debris is also placed in the bag.  Fresh towels and another application of bleach are used.  Finally, some of the personal protective equipment worn by the janitor are also thrown into the biohazard bag.  The janitor must then thoroughly wash their hands.

Professional janitorial cleaning services can ensure the medical facility or workplace remains hygienic and free of germs.  It is the best way to ensure the good health of your staff and customers.


What Are Germs?. (2016). Retrieved 8 May 2016, from

Updated by: Laura J. Martin, a. (2016). Cleaning to prevent the spread of germs: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia. Retrieved 8 May 2016, from