Shower head and hose
8 May 2018

Infection risk and current shower hose issues


What is the current problem?

A shower hose will often contain more bacteria than the rest of the building's plumbing system. A research team led by Frederik Hammes has been investigating this topic for the past four years. In their latest global study, they analysed biofilms in 78 shower hoses from 11 countries, and in 21 of them, they detected legionella.

H&S guidance documents such as HTM 04-01 and HSG 274 provide clear advice with regards to regular cleaning and disinfection of showers. As a result, maintenance teams and water hygiene companies have quite rightly included this as a PPM task in their water hygiene control schemes, adopting a hand and bucket cleaning and descale.

Research by W.E.T

During one of our recent research studies, 16 shower hoses from healthcare settings known to be cleaned using a hand and bucket methodology and tested them for TVCs and Pseudomonas. 94% of these hoses were found to be contaminated with Pseudomonas, with an average count of nearly 200,000 cfu / 100 ml sample.

This result may seem high against routine sampling at the shower outlet, which is due to the methodology of sampling. Instead of simply relying on planktonic counts at the outlet, W.E.T dissected the hoses into 10mm lengths and vortexed the material in a sterile solution, which released biofilm and bacteria off the internal surfaces. This demonstrated the high levels of contamination adhered to the internal hose surfaces, which provide perfect breeding grounds for opportunistic pathogens such as Legionella, presenting a real risk to shower users.


W.E.T's new production facility can manage the cleaning of 10,000s showers; more economically and effectively than any known process available today, proven to kill 99.9% of bacteria. The Hygiene 20 Shower Management solution is an innovative 6-stage process available for NHS Estates to outsource the cleaning of their showers via a 'collection, clean and return' process. The showers are collected from sites, inspected, bar coded for audit purposes and sent through the 6 stage Shower Management process from decontamination to final pasteurisation and returned to site.

What's next?

W.E.T is continuing its research, highlighting the need for an alternative, sustainable solution to prevent the risk of infection and recontamination of shower heads and hoses in healthcare settings. They believe that a combination of a suitable and improved product design with antimicrobial properties, combined with an effective shower cleaning system such as Hygiene 20 Shower Management, is sure to be the most-effective and compliant solution, alongside effective water hygiene control schemes.

Find out more about our Hygiene 20 Shower Management Service here

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