Welcome to Professional and Technical Services (PTS) – experts in chemical disinfection for infection prevention. Our goal is to educate and provide you the latest resources related to cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces, medical devices and hands. As specialists in disinfectant chemistries, microbiology, environmental cleaning and disinfection, facility assessments and policy and procedure creation we are dedicated to helping any person or facility who uses chemical disinfectants.

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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Spring Cleaning - Fridges, Freezers and Cryostats

There are some who really fancy a good spring clean. Whether it’s purging your closets with clothes you no longer wear, cleaning out the fridge of expired food or your freezers ancient relics of freezer burned food, you will find that there is something cathartic about cleaning and purging. 

I suspect that many have not considered how to clean and disinfect cold surfaces like the inside of a fridge, a freezer or even a cryostat for example. Disinfection is all about contact time - the length of time the surface MUST stay wet to achieve the disinfection claims as noted on the product label. For some surfaces this can be problematic. If the surface is hot, the disinfectant is going to evaporate well before the contact time can be achieved. Can you imagine how quick a hot surface will flash off the product if an alcohol based product is used?

Cold or freezing surfaces pose an entirely different issue. How do you keep a water-based product like a disinfectant from freezing when it comes in contact with a surface that is below freezing? The truth is it’s hard, hence the topic of this week’s blog.

Disinfectants can come in a number of different formats such as Ready-To-Use (RTU) Liquids, Pre-Moistened Wipes and Concentrates that require dilution prior to use. When dealing with cold temperatures, part of the decision you need to make is how to avoid your liquid disinfectant from freezing so that you can apply it to the surface you need to clean and disinfect. In this case, your only option is the use of a concentrate.  

Why you ask? Well, as the name implies RTU Liquids or Pre-moistened wipes are products that are intended to be used as they are manufactured and packaged. They have been tested and approved for use by the EPA, Health Canada or any other regulatory body to be used at the concentration stated on the bottle. Doing anything to an RTU or Wipe product, such as the addition of another chemical will dilute the product and render it ineffective. At the very least, you’ve changed the concentration so that the disinfectant manufacturer will not be able to provide any proof indicating the product will still be effective or what the contact time would be.

Concentrates on the other hand need to be diluted prior to use. This then allows you to add propylene glycol (PG) while diluting (usually up to 10%). Similar to how we have a Summer Windshield Washer Fluid and a Winter Windshield Fluid, propylene glycol is added to stop the freezing. The importance of this however, is that you need to work with your disinfectant manufacture to verify if they have conducted testing to ensure if you add PG that the product will not be neutralized. You also do not necessarily want to use winter windshield washer fluid as we found it can impact the pH and efficacy of products!
If you’re looking at spring cleaning a few of your hard to clean devices or machines, I hope you’ll contemplate how you used your disinfectant so that you achieve the level of kill you need!

Bugging Off!


PS – if you’re interested check out some of our past blogs that talk about contact time such as:

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