When, and how should we be cleaning our ID badges and lanyards? A pertinent question given our new work life with COVID-19.
An article abstract published in The Journal of Hospital Infection 2017 states that:
Staphylococcus aureus cultures from name badge lanyards were phenotypically and genotypically indistinguishable from the wearer’s nasal carrier strain. Lanyards had a mean age of 22 months and hygiene was poor with only 9% ever having been laundered. Molecular analysis showed that 26% of S.aureus nasal carriers shared an indistinguishable strain on their lanyard.
The recommendation was that lanyards should not be worn to carry ID cards/badges by frontline clinical staff. However, clinical best practice isn’t always best administrative practice. On June 8 2020, Vanderbilt University Medical Center sent out a news brief to employees and patients advising:
ID badges are to be worn above the waist by all employees while on campus. .… [ID badges] let patients, visitors and co-workers know you are a VUMC employee …. It is important to note that there is no increased risk of transmission of COVID-19 by wearing your badge, but it is always a good idea to clean your badge, especially if you have been in contact with COVID-positive individuals.
Given the administrative need to wear badges, especially in facilities with a large staff pool, how can we address the concern of cleanliness compared with the the practicality of re-using our ID badges and lanyards?ID cards themselves, are relatively durable items and have an average lifespan of between two and five years. Of course, this is relative to wear and tear, and, of course, doesn’t cover the potential loss of the ID badge. But by being able to clean our lanyards and ID badges, we can reduce the risk of infection without compromising administrative (including security) processes in our facilities.
Cleaning ID badges
So, how do you clean your ID card/badge? It’s really simple: you just need a neutral detergent, warm water, a container and some disposable towel.
- Mix the neutral detergent and water together
- Place your ID card/badge on some clean paper towel
- Take another piece of paper towel and dip into the detergent/water solution
- Rub dampened paper towel over one surface one side of the ID card/badge then repeat on the other side until ID card is thoroughly clean
- Dry with paper towel.
Of course, if you happen to have detergent wipes, then these will reduce the process of cleaning — just give it a good wipe, and you’ll be good to go.
If you have been in contact with a person who is suspected or known to be infected with an infectious agent, make sure your ID card/badge is cleaned and disinfected with the 2-step method — i.e. cleaned with detergent then a disinfectant, or of course, if you have a 2-in-1 detergent + disinfectant wipe then this can be used. Easy as that!