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Good Practice: Infection Prevention & Control – A Focus on Modalities in Practice and Disinfecting Protocols

The physiotherapy community has seen an uptick in public health inspections since the pandemic, and with those inspections, some recurring themes and action items have emerged.

Knowing how to effectively clean and disinfect modalities and other equipment in practice is an important aspect of providing safe services, but not necessarily the most exciting topic. We know that people have different learning styles, so we are providing this content in 3 ways.

“Just the facts, ma’am” – if you just want to get to the point, read on.

“I love a challenge” – challenge our low stakes/no stakes quiz and see if you can pass.

“Make it fun” – like to have a laugh while you learn? Check out the silliest gameshow ever.

Issue – How to clean and disinfect IFC sponges

Wash the sponge with a bit of dish detergent, rinse out the detergent, dry (squeeze out the water). Then you have 2 options for disinfection.

  • Spray or soak using a ready-to-use intermediate-level surface disinfectant with a Drug Identification Number from Health Canada and a short contact time (e.g. 1-minute), rinse (if disinfectant instructions recommend it), and dry.
    • Ready to Use Intermediate Level Disinfectants can be obtained from any medical, dental, or personal services supply company.
  • Microwave – Place freshly washed sponges from the first step on a clean surface inside and microwave for 1 minute on 100% power.1 Let cool on a clean surface prior to use.

Issue - Misusing disinfectants with longer contact times

Check the labels and instructions on your current disinfectants to find out the contact time and ensure it matches your IPC policies for disinfecting surfaces.

Most practice sites do not have 10 minutes to wait for a disinfectant to work on the surface it is applied to. Use an intermediate-level surface disinfectant with a 1-minute contact time for use on non-critical medical devices such as treatment plinths, exercise equipment, etc.

Issue - Expired products (e.g. alcohol-based hand sanitizer, disinfectants, antiseptics, etc.)

Ensure your practice has a process to check expiry dates such as writing those dates on the bottles or products and checking monthly. Expiry dates exist on cleaning products as the active chemical ingredients can lose effectiveness over time and may result in an opportunity for bacteria or other harmful microbes to be passed on to the next client.

Issue - Topping up ultrasound gels or other refillable containers when low

If reusable containers are used, they must not be topped up. They must be washed, rinsed, and dried prior to refilling.

Ensure bulk Products (e.g. ultrasound gel) are dispensed in a manner that protects the remaining portion from contamination. Newly opened or refilled bottles of medical gels and lubricants must be dated and unused contents discarded after one month.

Issue - Lack of written IPC policies/procedures

You must have policies in place for Infection Prevention & Control in the practice site. The policies should cover everything from how to deal with illness in the workplace to daily cleaning duties. The policies should be used for staff training and available for reference as needed. The Infection Prevention & Control Guide can be used to help you develop your policies if you currently do not have any in place, and as a resource to help you update your current policies if they are out of date.


  1. Park, Dong-Kyoo, Gabriel Bitton, and Richard Melker. 2006. “Microbial Inactivation by Microwave in the Home Environment.” Journal of Environmental Health 69 (5): 17–24.

Page updated: 07/06/2024