The cleanest hospitals are to act as models for others in a government bid to improve the ward environment for patients.
Eight trusts are spearheading the drive, acting as models of good practice in the NHS, which others can measure themselves against.
Managers at the hospitals are drawing up standards which will become part of a national action plan for cleanliness, due to be published in December.
The NHS Plan announced a nationwide clean up campaign, backed by a £31m cash injection.
Health Secretary Alan Milburn said: “It is not right that hospital patients in the 21st century should be recovering in dirty wards. But it is right that we should recognise the efforts of staff at the cleanest hospitals and hold their achievements up as an example to others. If they can maintain the highest standards, why can’t all hospitals?”