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The Importance of Colour Coded Products in Medical Environments

Reasons for colour coding cleaning materials and equipment.

'Colour coding of medical practice cleaning materials and equipment ensures that these items are not used in multiple areas, therefore, reducing the risk of cross- infection

The National Patient Safety Agency (NPSA) has developed a National Colour Coding Scheme for cleaning materials. The recommendation is that all NHS organisations adopt this code as standard in order to improve the safety of medical practice cleaning, ensure consistency and provide clarity for staff. (1)

Cleaning materials and equipment that should be colour coded.

'All cleaning materials and equipment, for example, cloths (re-usable and disposable), mops, buckets, aprons, and gloves should be colour coded. The method used to colour code items should be clear, permanent and in accordance with existing local practice. The NPSA is happy to advise as necessary'. (1)

For further advice please contact the NPSA's website: http://www.npsa.nhs.uk

Cleaning materials and equipment that do not need to be colour coded.

'Cleaning products such as bleach and disinfectants do not need to be colour coded. The code also does not extend to catering equipment (for example, chopping boards and knives) where there is already a well-recognised and well-established procedure to ensure food hygiene and food separation issues are addressed'. (1 )

'Practices who presently use paper towels as cloths do not need to source colour coded paper towels, but do need to ensure that their use is strictly controlled to single use'. (2)

In our experience the Department of Health insist that all practices use colour coded cleaning materials and equipment to protect the practice from cross infection of different pathogens between departmental areas. However, they do not offer any advice as to where these colour coded products can be obtained from. Medical World aims to resolve this problem, firstly by providing a printable poster detailing the coding system to help reinforce clarity and consistency for staff within the practice. (This poster could be laminated and pinned up within the practice). Secondly, this article details the full range of products that Medical World provides to help fulfill this requirement.

The following is the National NHS Colour Coding Scheme; this clearly shows which colour should be used for each area of the practice. Medical World advises that the colour chart be printed off and pinned up within the practice, to help staff to be able to follow the guidelines set by the department of health.


  1. http://www.cwp.nhs.uk/guidancepolicies/documents/infection%20control%20documents/colour_coding_notice1.pdf/ (accessed 14,11,2011)
  2. www.hfs.scot.nhs.uk/publications/colour%20COdingX20Leaflet.pdf (accessed 15,11,2011)


National colour coding scheme

For cleaning materials and equipment in primary care and dental premises All practices are recommended to adopt the colour code below for cleaning materials. All cleaning items, for example, cloths (re-usable and disposable), mops, buckets, aprons and gloves, should be colour coded.


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