Re-purposing of domestic steam disinfectors within the hospital-at-home setting

Beverley C. Millar, Jonathan Stirling, Mollie Maguire, Rachel E. Moore, Alan Murphy, John E. Moore*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Vulnerable patients being cared for in hospital-at-home settings require safe disinfection of their medical devices, including nebulisers and other respiratory equipment. The scale of patients now being cared for in hospital-at-home settings as a result of COVID19 places huge pressure on hospital central sterile services departments (CSSDs) to provide consumable items to safely support such patients’ care. This places new importance on the disinfection of mundane objects, including crockery, cutlery and frequently touched objects in the home environment. This study examined temperature performance of steam disinfectors and the consequences of potential operator misuse on the survival of 62 bacteria and yeast organisms.

Thermal performance of steam disinfectors was evaluated using calibrated thermocouple probes in multiple permutations of device usage with 62 test organisms.

Thermocouple data demonstrated disinfection A0 values of 6000 (upper layer) and 60 (lower layer). Steam disinfection of baby bottles had a thermal lethality of at least A0 = 600. Variation in disinfector temperatures were noted, depending on the geometric location of thermocouples. Additional notable temperature reductions occurred with device underfilling with suboptimal water volumes. Steam disinfection eradicated all 62 non-spore-forming Gram-positive, Gram-negative and yeast organisms tested and eradicated all organisms in the inner teat space of contaminated babies' dummies, rendering safe steam disinfection of babies’ dummies.

Domestic steam disinfection offers an inexpensive, simple, versatile and widely available technology for the elimination of common non-spore-forming nosocomial pathogens and safe disinfection of medical devices, fomites and other mundane objects within the hospital-at-home scenario, thereby enhancing patient safety.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)72-80
JournalInfection, Disease and Health
Issue number1
Early online date12 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


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