Hospitals have been warned not to dilute cleaning chemicals too much over fears that it could boost antibiotic resistance in bacteria.
A US study found bugs that survive disinfectant contact can become more difficult to kill.
They evolve new defences which allow them to ‘pump’ cleaning chemicals and antibiotics out of their system.
The NHS has recently met a target for the reduction of MRSA cases, but the rise of antibiotic resistance remains a problem.
Doctors have been told to use antibiotics sparingly, as overuse can allow harmful bacteria to develop resistance, but the new research suggests that some cleaning chemicals may also cause a problem.
Dr Glenn Kaatz, who led the study, said that if bacteria in hospitals were exposed to ‘biocides’ – antibacterial chemicals – repeatedly, they could build up this resistance, and even contribute to hospital-acquired infections.
However, Dr Adam Fraise, a consultant in infection control, said that the important thing was for cleaning staff to use chemicals in the recommended concentrations, and not to water them down more than required.
‘They can be used in very very high concentrations, and provided this happens, then bacteria will be killed, and therefore not have the opportunity to acquire this resistance.’
‘There are guidelines for cleaning staff about this in the NHS, and they need to be followed.’