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Saturday, April 19, 2014


Is there a sure way to find out if a floor and surface disinfectant cleaner is doing the job that it should do?


Yes, there are ways to measure these performance aspects. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) measurement devices can detect residual soil in the form of living or once-living organisms. After cleaning, swabbing the surface and measuring for ATP will tell you how much organic matter – alive or dead – remains. However, this is really a way to measure cleaning efficacy rather than sanitizing/disinfecting performance re: inactivation of live microbes; still it does serve as a useful barometer of “clean” or hygienic (if there is less organic matter present, there will be less microbial growth).

To determine whether you are leaving specific live or growing microbes on the surface, you will need other measurement tools such as bacterial cultures using growth media. There are also devices that measure enzymes found in specific bacteria, enabling direct detection of E Coli, etc. These methods are more costly and time consuming, although costs are coming down.

Suffice it to say that if you measure consistently before and after cleaning, using an ATP meter, you will have a good idea of how clean and healthy the floor or other surface is, at least from the standpoint of microbial potential. One caveat, ATP devices are less effective where bleach is used. According to the CDC: “high concentrations of bleach may potentially quench the ATP bioluminescence reaction and result in a signal reduction, but further research is needed to better understand the impact of bleach-based disinfectants on the use of the ATP system. If a bleach-based disinfectant is used, it is important that the surface is dry before using the ATP tool.”

Allen P. Rathey, President
The Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI)
13998 West Hartford Dr.
Boise, ID 83713
Voice (208) 938-3137
Fax (208) 938-3138
Mobile (208) 724-1508

Answer #2:
There are test strips to test the solution mix for some products. There are also more sophisticated tests such as an ATP meter that can be used, and actual cultures can be grown and validated if you really need to know what and how much is on a surface. However, unless you servicing a hospital operating room or working in a cleanroom environment or lab, high level testing may not be practical or needed. Check into the ATP meters; a local distributor may have one and could come to your location and demo the system.

Bill Griffin, President