5 Tips for Safe Disposal of Patient Care Wipes
Safely disposing of patient care wipes is a constant challenge.
Everyday healthcare consumables can cause havoc in waste processes. If users don’t know how to suitably dispose of items such as personal care wipes, the results can be costly, time-consuming and even dangerous.
If standard wipes are flushed down toilets or put in sluice room macerators, they can rapidly clog the plumbing system at your facility. Not only will you need to find alternative disposal and bathroom facilities while these are out of order, but the price of repairs can stretch your maintenance budget to breaking point.
All the while, downtime of facilities can present a significant infection control risk. If your clinicians no longer have access to their usual bathroom and sluice procedures, alternative arrangements will need to be made – such as carrying waste through the hospital to dispose of it in another sluice room, or piling used products into yellow bags for manual collection.
None of these solutions will provide the best protection against HCAIs and, ultimately, both patients and staff are put at risk of illnesses spread by human waste, such as clostridium difficile.
By ensuring that patient care wipes are safely disposed of, you can prevent the infection risk and expense of sluice room maintenance issues.
There are some simple steps that you can take to ensure that patient care wipes are responsibly discarded. Here are our top five tips, to help you on your way to safer disposal procedures.
1. Are your wipes compostable?
Many wipes boast the label of ‘biodegradable’, which purchasers have often accepted to mean ‘will break down easily’. However, this isn’t strictly accurate.
If a wipe is biodegradable, this simply means that, by natural processes, it will eventually break down into smaller pieces. However, this cycle could realistically take years to complete.
In order to be truly responsible in your choice of care wipe, you should check that the product is compostable, not just biodegradable.
To be compostable, a wipe has to have been certified to break down in industrial composting facilities within 180 days. Therefore, these wipes are far easier for sewerage systems to manage and won’t contribute to the build up of municipal ‘fatbergs’.
2. Are your wipes compatible with your macerators?
Medical facilities try their hardest to educate clinicians on what can and can’t be disposed of in sluice room macerators. Wipes shouldn’t be confused with toilet paper and it can’t be assumed that every wipe is maceratable – in fact, most aren’t.
A wipe that isn’t designed specifically for maceration will cause the machine to jam and break down, so always check the packaging before attempting to dispose of it alongside items such as pulp bedpans.
3. Are your wipes dispersible in water?
A water dispersible wipe will quickly start to disintegrate after being placed in water and, commonly, will completely disperse within one hour.
As you can imagine, these wipes rapidly clear from pipes and won’t contribute to larger plumbing issues.
4. Are your wipes flushable?
A flushable wipe can be disposed of in a bedpan washer or conventional toilet for convenience. It’s crucial to clarify that a wipe is flushable before attempting to do so; many wet wipes don’t pass water industry tests for flushability, despite claiming to be safe for this practice.
Flushing unsuitable wipes will rapidly cause issues with plumbing, often leaving the facilities out of action until they are unclogged.
In order to guarantee safe flushing, ensure that the wipes adhere to EDANA and INDA testing standards.
5. Are your wipes made of natural materials?
Wipes that are made of synthetic fibres (polyester or polypropylene) are often bonded with plastic adhesive that doesn’t degrade. Even if the product is classed as ‘biodegradable’, any wipe which is made from synthetic materials will only degrade into microplastics – which are exceptionally harmful to the environment.
So, even if the wipe can be safely disposed of in your facility, if it’s made from synthetic materials, it’ll potentially do a lot of ecological damage elsewhere.
A wipe that’s made of natural fibres will not present this issue.
Hygenex maceratable and flushable wipes are made of 100% natural cellulosic materials (wood pulp and viscose) and bonded with high pressure water jets. This makes them completely biodegradable and compostable, preventing harm both to your plumbing and the planet.
Purchasing patient care wipes with a wealth of disposal options will increase efficiency, save money and reduce infection risk at your facility.
Hygenex wipes are different to the vast majority of alternatives on the market.
As well as being fully compostable, they disperse into organic matter when disposed of in bedpan washers, macerators, slop hoppers or toilets – making them a truly versatile patient care solution.
In addition, Hygenex wet and dry wipes are:
- Made of advanced non-woven 100% cellulosic material
- Compliant with all 7 tests for EDANA & INDA standards of flushability
- Unique in their market-leading strength and performance
- Suitable for use on all areas of the body including intimate areas
- Suitable for use on all skin types and ages, from newborn to the elderly.