Disinfectant Wipes Transfer C Difficile Spores

Girl pulling out wet wipe to disinfectGirl pulling out wet wipe to disinfect with rubber gloves
Study authors tested the effect of disinfectant wipes on spore loads and cross-contamination risk for Clostridioides difficile.

All brands of disinfected wipes tested had some sporicidal effects against Clostridioides difficile (C difficile), but also transferred C difficile to uncontaminated surfaces, according to a study published in Antimicrobial Resistance and Infection Control.

Investigators used disinfectant wipes to wipe Formica sheets inoculated with C difficile ATCC 43598 spores to evaluate risk of cross-contamination. They determined log10 CFU on the used wipes and on previously uncontaminated pre-determined distances from the inoculation point.

A total of 7 disinfectant brands were tested, 6 of which had non-sporicidal claims. Investigators found that all 7 products cross-contaminated low risk or previously uncontaminated surfaces. After use, investigators recovered 0.49±0.27 log10 CFU/100 cm2 from the inoculation zone (i-zone). The wipes transferred a mean of 0.13±0.12 log10 CFU/100 cm2 from the i-zone to 0.5 m2 and 0.34±0.27 log10 CFU/100 cm2 from the i-zone to 2.0 m2. An average of 0.13±0.11 and 0.36 ± 0.25 log10 CFU/100 cm2 were transferred from the i-zone to 1 m2 and 1.5 m2 surfaces, respectively.

The average log10 CFU/100 cm2 transferred to the 0.5 m2 and 1 m2 surfaces were significantly lower than what remained in the i-zone (P <.05), but there were no statistical differences for the 1.5 m2 and 2.0 m2 zones (P .05).

Overall, all disinfectant wipes retained C difficile spores after surface disinfection, and there were statistically significat differences between products (P <.05). For sporicidal efficacy, surface area wiped was also significant (P <.05) with efficacy decreasing with increased surface area wiped. However, there was no overall difference in the sporicidal efficacy of the products when comparing the log10 CFU/100 cm2 from the i-zone to 1.5 m2 and 2 m2 areas (P ≥.05).

The study was limited due to lack of information on the material’s impact on cross-contamination, and lack of information on the impact of prolonged contact time on the inactivation of spores retained by used wipes.

“When disinfectant wipes are used on large surface areas, they may present a considerable cross-contamination risk, which could put patients at greater risk of healthcare-associated infections,” investigators concluded.

Disclosure: Several authors report grants and personal fees from a pharmaceutical industry. Please see the original reference for further disclosure details.


Nkemngong CA, Chaggar GK, Li X, Teska PJ, Oliver HF. Disinfectant wipes transfer Clostridioides difficile spores from contaminated surfaces to uncontaminated surfaces during the disinfection process. Antimicrob Resist Infect Control. 2020;9(1):176. doi:10.1186/s13756-020-00844-0.