What Are the Best Ways to Disinfect Your Lab or Clean Room?

In this article we will discuss two different ways to disinfect your lab. The first is by using chlorine-based cleaning products for surfaces and the second is by using fumigation or full room decontamination, where application of this method may be required. Clean room and lab cleaning procedures are vital to ensuring that your working environment can comply with the highest standards.

What Are the Criteria for a Good Chlorine Based Disinfectant?

When choosing the most efficient cleaning materials for your lab or clean room, you must consider ease of use, packaging and acceptability by the operator. You should also consider the following:

  • Do you require a sterile option for grade A and/or B environments?
  • Is your chosen product non-flammable?
  • Does the efficacy of the product help to eliminate highly resistant bacteria?
  • Is the product fast drying?
  • Does the product leave any residue? Choosing a residue free product will help you shorten disinfecting time by removing the need to remove any residue left behind.
  • What is the opened and unopened shelf life of the product? Having a 12 month unopened and at least 3 month opened shelf life will make it easier to store products and make them more cost effective.
  • Is your chosen disinfectant manufactured to the requirements of cGMP, notified to the BPR2 and provided in cleanroom compatible packaging in a variety of formats so that it is suitable for use in all areas of the cleanroom?

Choosing the most effective and cost-efficient cleaning product for bio-decontamination can be a challenging task, which is why it is essential to do some research to avoid wasting time and money that could be dedicated to other matters.

A Brief History of Chlorine

To understand chlorine and its uses moving forward, it is important to understand where it came from and why it is so effective for decontamination and cleaning. Chlorine first started to be widely used as a disinfectant in the late 1800s and early 1900s in the form of sodium-hypochlorite, however it was recognised as being used earlier in some famous cases such as in 1850 when it was used to attempt to disinfect the Broad Street water supply in London after an outbreak of cholera. This type of bleach was discovered in France in 1785 and further developed in the late 1700’s in a chemical plant in Javel, which is where the name Javelle water is derived.

In World War I, hospitals produced their own hypochlorite solutions on site which has a 0.8% concentration and is non-hazardous, though the production does produce hazardous hydrogen gas and is inefficient compared with bulk production and this type of production went out of favour in the 1990’s.

Also available with up to 70% concentration of chlorine is dry calcium hypochlorite, which first appeared in the USA in 1928. It comes in various forms such as powder and tablets and is also known as high test hypochlorite.

Why Use Chlorine Based Cleaning Products in Your Clean Room

Many studies have been carried out throughout the past 2 centuries on what makes chlorine an effective disinfectant. Although it is not currently possible to explain exactly how each type of chlorine species works, a few theories include:

  • It inactivates key enzymes
  • Disrupts nucleic acids
  • Causes oxidative damage to cell walls.

Many scientists may agree that hypochlorous acid (HOCL) is the most effective disinfectant in the chlorine family. This type of chlorine is widely available as a diluted solution and is suggested to be up to 120 times more efficient than sodium hypochlorite. This is thought to be because of hypochlorite’s inability to diffuse through the cell wall, as it is negatively charged and is electrostatically repelled from the cell walls, which are also negatively charged.

Use of Fumigation & Room Fogging in Your Lab or Cleanroom

Fumigation and room fogging are used to get to those hard-to-reach places, typically at the end of a production line (when used in a commercial food production environment) and also to eliminate any biohazards in a lab which may cause potential harm and cannot or have not been contained, such as in a CL3 lab. Other types of decontamination can include the use of UV light for killing viruses and bacteria, such as in a hospital environment and typically used to remove traces of Sars-Cov-2 virus which causes Covid-19, for example.

Labs such as CL3 labs must ensure that they have procedures in place to regularly test their lab or clean space for any air leaks, so that the space is always ready in the event of emergency decontamination using this method.

Whilst manual cleaning is usually sufficient when the correct cleaning products are used, room fogging allows the cleaning chemicals to get onto every hard-to-reach surface and corner that could be missed by human error and is the quickest most efficient way to restore a disinfected lab or clean room.

There are a wide range of decontamination techniques available and the list is increasing, but those that are commercially available include:

  • chemical fogging
  • vaporised hydrogen peroxide
  • ozone
  • chlorine dioxide
  • ultraviolet light
  • titanium dioxide coating and UV light
  • ionisation

How Crowthorne Group Can Help

Here at Crowthorne Group, we have years of experience helping our clients to comply with regulatory standards and maintaining the integrity of their lab environments, and the highest standards for clean air. Speak to our team about your concerns for the cleanliness and compliance of your lab or clean room, whilst also allowing us to recommend the best UK suppliers for lab supplies and equipment. Contact us online or by calling us on 01252 372333.

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