Clostridium difficile -- better known as C. diff -- is a bacterium that can case potentially serious digestive and intestinal problems in people who are exposed to it. Household bleach is commonly used to sanitize areas and objects that are believed to be contaminated with C. diff; if you plan to do so, it is essential to learn the proper ratio of bleach to water both to ensure your own safety and to guarantee that the area being treated is completely sanitized.
Clostridium difficile can cause everything from minor digestive problems to fatal intestinal inflammations in humans. The bacterium is typically spread in hospitals, nursing homes and similar areas, so employees and patients in these facilities are at a higher risk of infection. It is estimated that C. diff infections cost medical facilities $17.6 million to $51.5 million each day, so many of these facilities have prioritized sanitizing areas that are believed to be contaminated with C. diff.
Bleach and Water Solution
First, make sure you purchase a bleach that has been rated by the Environmental Protection Agency as capable of killing C. diff. (Germicidal bleaches will list on the product labeling the contaminants they are capable of killing.) The exact solution used to disinfect an area that has been contaminated with C. diff varies somewhat on the area being treated, but for most situations, a solution of one-part bleach to nine-parts water will do the trick.
Always wear hand and eye protection to avoid the bleach solution coming into contact with your skin or eyes. Use a clean cloth, scrubber or sponge to clean the area and saturate it completely with the solution. Scrub the area thoroughly and allow it to air dry. For repeated sanitations, change the solution out daily. Take care to dispose of clothes, bedsheets or other materials that may have become infected with C. diff. If you do not want to throw the materials away completely, use a pre-rinse cycle followed by a regular wash and dry cycle, perhaps with a small amount of bleach added to the washing machine to ensure disinfection.
Due to the considerable sums of money that C. diff infections cost health-care facilities, many of these facilities have their own rules and guidelines dictating what to do with a room and with materials that may be contaminated with C. diff. Always follow these guidelines, particularly those regarding the handling of soiled materials and wearing of protective clothing.
Eoghan McCloskey is a technical support representative and part-time musician who holds Bachelor of Arts degrees in English and political science from Texas State University. While at Texas State, McCloskey worked as a writing tutor at the Texas State Writing Center, proofreading and editing everything from freshman book reports to graduate theses.