As you know, C. difficile (C. diff) is a gram-positive spore-forming bacteria that is extremely hardy and lives up to its species name; derived from the Latin adjective for difficult. It thrives without oxygen and can form dormant spores if conditions are not adequate for it to survive in its vegetative state. The spores are resistant to drying, heating and to many antiseptics. C. diff can remain in the spore form for months until conditions, such as in the gut, are adequate for it to enter a vegetative state and cause disease.
When talking to study subjects about the importance of cleaning their homes to prevent reinfection, remind them that even a bar of soap can be a source of contamination and can cause repeat infection. Although hand washing is a very import and necessary step in C. diff prevention, it is best to err on the side of caution and dispose of contaminated bar soaps since the detergents will not kill residual C. diff or spores. Please remind your patients that chlorine bleach is the only cleaning agent that will kill C. diff in both states.