Hygiena International ATP test systems (involving a hand-held SystemSURE luminometer and UltraSnap swabs) have been used to evaluate the effectiveness of cleaning procedures, following two norovirus outbreaks on a cruise ship.

Hygiena UltraSnap swabs show a strong correlation between ATP and microbial cells, with results measured in relative light units (RLU) and obtained within 15 seconds. The Hygiena SystemSURE test procedure is swift, provides a PASS/CAUTION/FAIL result and can be undertaken by personnel after only minimal training.

Samples were taken in random areas immediately after cleaning, focusing on typical high hand touch areas. This study was moderate in size with 601 swabs/sampling sites measured in the case of two outbreaks. A benchmark of 100 RLU was used as the maximum acceptable safe reading.

Post-cleaning data indicated a small number of unclean surfaces with the highest failure rate associated with handrails, toilet area taps and shower holders with average RLU values of 182, 468 and 978 respectively.

An invaluable tool for the rapid assessment of cleaning standards, ATP swabs have served to identify areas and surfaces regularly inadequately cleaned, resulting in public service locations changing their cleaning procedures.