Disinfectant wipes and detergent used on reusable medical devices with plastic surfaces


Disinfectant wipes and detergent can damage the plastic surfaces of medical devices if the wipes / detergent are incompatible with the device’s plastic surface.

Damaged surfaces:

  • have injured people using the device through electrical shock
  • may cause the device to malfunction or fail
  • may not be able to be decontaminated adequately.


VMIA has received reports of cracking and breakages in a number of medical devices, electrical outlets and plastic fittings used in a hospital environment.

The reported damage has occurred in an intensive care unit less than two-years old.

Investigations have revealed the fittings were damaged through environmental stress cracking, caused by exposure to disinfectant wipes and detergents.

The issue mainly affects items made with polycarbonate where cleaning wipes containing quaternary ammonium compounds have been used.

Recommended actions

  • Review all decontamination processes that use a disinfectant wipe or detergent containing quaternary ammonium compounds on a plastic surface.
  • If your facility has been affected by this issue, contact VMIA to discuss the next steps on
  • Questions regarding disinfectant wipe products can be answered by contacting Health Purchasing Victoria on

View of damaged switch casing

View of damaged plastic part 

View of damaged plastic fitting  
View of damage of casing on plug ins on the wall 

View of plastic casing damaged