Infection Prevention FAQ with Jim Flieler
By: Jim Flieler, Vice President of Sales for North America, Charlotte Products Ltd.
The COVID-19 pandemic has brought facility cleanliness and infection prevention into the spotlight. Facilities everywhere are using more disinfectant more often than ever before. Here at Charlotte Products, we continue to stress the importance of safely removing organic matter and then sparingly, thoughtfully and carefully applying disinfectant to high risk, high contact touch points for the safest infection control.
It is important to refer to the five critical security elements of disinfecting when applying disinfectant. One of these five critical security elements is proper dilution. I often get questions about dilution from customers and end users who are confused about how to dilute their disinfectant products and want to know how they can ensure they’re doing it right. Here I’d like to share some of those frequently asked questions, dispel misconceptions and provide best dilution practices for infection prevention programs.
Where can I find the dilution ratio I need to follow?
Everything you need to follow the five critical security elements of disinfecting, including your dilution ratio, is printed directly on the label of your disinfectant product.
How do I ensure I have the right dilution results?
The best way to do this is with a quality, wall-mounted dilution control cabinet. Relying on the “glug glug” method of pouring disinfectant and water into a bucket will not cut it. Wall-mounted dispensing systems give you a head start because they are designed for efficiency of use. These systems offer the most accurate dilution results by controlling the amount of product that is dispensed. They make pouring and mixing simple.
How can I be sure my product is at the proper dilution rate?
I always recommend using PPM paper as often as possible when working with disinfectants. PPM stands for parts per million. This little strip of paper can be dipped into your solution and it will show you the actual number and provide a visual reference matched to the colour-coded system. PPM paper is based on the active ingredient in your disinfectant (quats, hydrogen peroxide or chlorine bleach). Your product will tell you a PPM range, and you will be looking to match that PPM range with your testing strips.
How often should I use the PPM paper with my solution?
You have to test your solution throughout the day. Testing one time in the custodial closet before embarking on a full shift will not cut it. We recommend frequent tests throughout a cleaning shift to verify dilution rate accuracy and proper PPM to ensure that your infection prevention methods are accurate. I recommend testing your solution at least after you’ve finished every other room.
What happens if my solution is more diluted than it needs to be? Can I just add more concentrate?
No. If you have already mixed your solution, and you test it and the dilution ratio is too high, meaning the concentration is too low, then you need to dispose of that solution and dilute a fresh solution.
Is a stronger concentration better?
I get this question a lot! People will ask me, if the label calls for 200 ppm and I have 1000 PPM, doesn’t that just mean it is better? The answer is no. With a solution that is stronger, you run the risk of leaving residue behind on the surface. Residue even from a strong disinfectant can become a host environment for bacteria and viruses, the very microorganisms you thought you were killing.
How does water quality affect dilution?
Water quality plays a vital role in dilution. Hard and soft water, calcium and minerals can all affect the stability of the solution and PPM. This is all the more reason to frequently validate and measure your readings throughout your cleaning shift.
What temperature water should I use when diluting my disinfectant?
It is a proven fact that hot water cleans better in most cases. That being said, most disinfectants are designed to be used in both cool or hot water. Several factors come into play here. First of all, the hotter the water, the faster it dries, shortening your dwell time. If we do not respect and ensure we are keeping the surfaces moist for the respected dwell time found on each label, we are actually failing at disinfection. Another factor is employee wellness. Disinfectants can have aggressive chemistry and hotter water will flash off into the air, perhaps causing respiratory issues among the custodial staff. That’s why I recommend room temperature water for the best overall result when diluting disinfectants.
Infection control isn’t rocket science, but it does take a fundamental understanding of some basic principles to get it right. The five critical security elements of disinfecting provides an overview of these principles, which should serve as the foundation for any training program focused on infection prevention protocol. Each of these elements is equally as important in contributing to healthy, safe spaces. We’ve published FAQs for each step HERE .
Have an additional question? Contact an expert at Charlotte Products to ask your question, or learn more about our infection control programs by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org