This advice-column-style blog for SLPs was authored by Pam Marshalla from 2006 to 2015, the archives of which can be explored here. Use the extensive keywords list found in the right-hand column (on mobile: at the bottom of the page) to browse specific topics, or use the search feature to locate specific words or phrases throughout the entire blog.
Sanitary Procedures for Therapy
By Pam Marshalla
Q: Can you explain how to follow sanitary procedures when using hands or objects in the mouth?
SLPs need to follow sanitary procedures at all times when touching a client with the hands or other objects in, on, or around the mouth. The following summarizes the basics of: (1) Scrubbing and gloving, (2) Handling objects in sanitary ways, and (3) Sanitizing objects for re-use.*
1. Scrubbing and Gloving Procedure: Adhere to the following procedure at all times when touching a client in, on, or around the mouth:
- Wash the hands with a sanitizing soap.
- Dry with a paper towel and dispose of it, OR dry with a cloth towel and place in the laundry hamper to be washed later.
- Slip hands into protective gloves.
- Rinse the powder coating from the gloves, and dry.
- Work with the client.
- De-glove and dispose of gloves (use gloves with one client only).
- Wash, rinse, and dry the hands again.
2. Sanitizing Objects: Sanitize objects that have been used in, on, or around the mouth. Follow instructions on a sanitizing solution, or adhere to the following inexpensive guidelines:
- Wash the object using regular household dish soap and water.
- Rinse thoroughly.
- Soak for ten minutes in a solution made from 1 part household bleach and 10 parts water.**
- Rinse thoroughly again.
- Allow to air dry.
- Place in a clean container and store for re-use.
3. Handling Tools and Toys in Sanitary Ways: Adhere to the following guidelines when handling objects that are used in, on, or around the mouth:
- Wood Objects: Use once and discard.
- Paper and Cardboard Objects: Use once and discard.
- Sponge Objects: Use once and discard.
- Cotton Objects: Use once and discard.
- Plastic Objects: Use once and then sanitize to use again.
- Rubber Objects: Use once and then sanitize to use again.
- Vinyl Objects: Use once and then sanitize to use again.
- Any object with interior surfaces that cannot be cleaned easily (e.g., straws, thin tubes): Use once and discard.
*From: Marshalla, P. (unpublished manuscript) 21st Century Articulation Therapy. Mill Creek, WA: Marshalla Speech & Language.
**UPDATE 2018: Today, it is not always recommended that we use bleach for disinfecting toys and other items that may go into children’s mouths. Soaps such as Pure Green 24 or Clorox Beach-Free Hydrogen Peroxide Spray are popular, as is using dish soap or the dishwasher when possible. Consider using bleach only when necessary and sparingly.