Surgical Center Cleaning Standards Using AORN Recommended Practices

By Terri DeGross


AORN (Association of periOperative Registered Nurses) recognizes the numerous types of settings in which perioperative nurses practice.  These recommended practices are intended a guidelines adaptable to various practice settings.  These practice settings include traditional OR’s, Ambulatory surgery units, physician offices, cardiac catheterization suites, endoscopy suites, radiology departments, and all other areas where operative and other invasive procedures may be performed. 

The current recommended practices of AOR were effective as of 1/1/03.  These are the cleaning guidelines:

Recommended Practice I

Patients should be provided a safe, clean environment.

1.    All horizontal surfaces in the OR (eg., furniture, surgical lights, equipment) should be dam-dusted before the first scheduled surgical procedure of the day with a  clean, lint-free microfiber cloth moistened with an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered hospital disinfectant.  Equipment from areas outside the OR should be damp-dusted before being brought into the OR.  Dust and lint are deposited on horizontal surfaces.  Proper cleaning of these surfaces helps reduce airborne contaminants that may travel on dust and lint.

Recommended Practice II

During the night shift cleaning, a safe, clean environment should be re-established.  Disposable items should be disposed of according to local, state, and federal regulations and in accordance with the AORN “Recommended practices for environmental responsibility in the practice setting.”  Bio-hazardous material will not be handled.  Reusable items should be processed according to the policies and procedures of the surgical practice setting.

1.    Patient transport vehicles, including non-disposable straps and attachments, should be cleaned after use with a cloth moistened with an EPA-registered hospital-grade germicidal agent.  Transport vehicles are considered contaminated through patient contact.

2.    Operating room equipment and furniture should be cleaned with an EPA-registered hospital-grade germicidal agent during night shift cleaning.

  • Wall, doors, surgical lights, and ceilings should be spot cleaned if soiled with blood, tissue, or body fluids.

  • Mechanical friction should be used when cleaning.  Effective cleaning depends on the scrubbing action.  Equipment and furniture used for surgical procedures are considered contaminated through contact with patients and other potentially infectious materials, including blood.

3.    Floors should be cleaned using a new or freshly laundered mop head and an EPA-registered hospital-grade germicidal agent.  Floor cleaning removes soil, organic debris, and dust.

  • Unless the germicidal agent is changed after each use, the mo head should be dipped into the solution only when it is clean and before the mopping activity is begun.

  • A used/soiled mop head should not be re-dipped into the solution.

  • If the floor is grossly soiled, the floor should initially be mopped with an all purpose solution.  After which, the mop head should be changed and the solution discarded.  The floor should then be re-mopped with a germicide solution.

  • Soiled mop handles should be cleaned with the EPA-registered germicide or discarded according to the type of contamination present.

4.    All cleaners must wear appropriate PPE to reduce the risk of exposure to blood borne or other potentially infectious microorganisms.

Recommended Practice III

Surgical procedure rooms and scrub/utility areas should be terminally cleaned daily.

  1. Operating rooms, in which procedures may be performed, regardless of whether they are sued, should be terminally cleaned once during each 24-hour period during the regular work week.  A clean surgical environment will reduce the number of microbial flora present.  Terminal cleaning in the surgical 0practice setting reduces the number of microorganisms, dust, and organic debris present in the surgical environment.


  1. Mechanical friction and an EPA-registered agent are used to clean equipment and areas that should include, but are not limited to:

    • All touch points

    • Surgical lights and external tracks

    • Fixed and ceiling-mounted equipment

    • All furniture and equipment, including wheels, casters, step stools, foot pedals, telephones, and light switches

    • Hallways and floors

    • Handles of cabinets and push plates

    • Ventilation faceplates

    • Horizontal surfaces (eg. Tops of counters, sterilizers, fixed shelving)

    • Sub-sterile areas (i.e., hallways off OR suites, storage areas)

    • Scrub/utility areas

    • Scrub sinks


  1. Cleaning equipment should be disassembled, cleaned with an EPA-registered facility-approved agent, and dried before storage.  Equipment is cleaned to prevent growth of microorganisms during storage and to prevent subsequent contamination of the surgical practice setting.


Terri DeGross is the Director of Business Development for Pro Clean Building Maintenance, Inc. That specializes in Medical & Surgical Facility Cleaning using AORN Standards and Carries ISSA CIMS Certification with honors.

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