Dosing chemicals into sinks, bottles and automated cleaning equipment is a routine task with surprising complications. Why should we pay attention to accurate dosing?
Many sterile processing departments use concentrated liquid chemical disinfectants. Mixing the exact amount of chemical with water is crucial for germ killing action in the stated contact or dwell time. The correct measuring tool or container must be accurate and easy to use. Underdosing disinfectant chemicals will impair germ killing action while using too much chemical may harm surfaces or leave toxic residue.
Unlike disinfectants, detergent labels typically offer a range for dosing. While it is critical to measure and dose detergent chemicals accurately, there are significant variables to determine the best dosing in each facility and application including water quality, cleaning process and soil load.
Minerals in hard water above 200 ppm “capture” detergent surfactants leaving less chemical available to loosen soils, therefore requiring higher dosing of detergent. Because cleaning is a team effort between chemicals and friction, soaking or manual hand washing may require the higher end of recommended dosing. High caseloads of challenging orthopedic or gastrointestinal soils may also require higher dosing, effective enzymatic detergent, or both.
Best practices for dosing chemicals include a careful review of chemical labels to ensure dosing is according to chemical manufacturer’s directions, consideration for other factors like water quality, and a plan to evaluate dosing with frequent cleaning tests. A future installment of this expert series will discuss causes and effects of over-dosing.