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Looking beyond cleaning performance


Exploring the importance of understanding a cleaning product before actually selecting it…


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November 29, 2020
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Looking beyond cleaning performance

There are so many different types of cleaning products available today. Very often, new cleaning chemicals and disinfectants, which appear in the market, come with incredible promises to do exciting things in cleaning. Many of them are combination products that offer sparkling clean surfaces with amazing antimicrobial properties, too.

Many additives are added to cleaning chemicals/detergents to make them more efficient. Some may be counter productive to the cleaning and disinfectant properties one normally has in mind; hence, reading the label of the cleaning product and understanding the product you buy is especially important. The labels are normally derived from various assessments carried out during the process of product research and development; such assessment includes efficacy testing and quality tests carried out on specific products, their ingredients and compatibility on target surfaces.

Cleaning and disinfectant products are very closely related to our daily lives in various forms from daily use soaps and detergents to commercial cleaners, hence manufacturers of such product must put them through stringent quality assessments, before they reach the end users/customers, as per international standards and set protocols. When it comes to the quality of cleaning products, the first aspect is, “Does the product ensure perfect cleanliness?”

The quality assessments must also answer several other questions including, but not limited to, the following:

• What is the intended/ specific use of the cleaning/ disinfectant product?

• What is the exact composition of product?

• What is the level of cleanliness and disinfection achieved with recommended usage?

• Are the potentially harmful ingredients present in the cleaning/disinfectant product within acceptable limits?

• What is the short- and longterm impact on the target surfaces?

• Compatibility or reactivity of the product with various surfaces based on defined usage

• What are the long-term consequences of their use?

• What are the health hazards related to products and their use?

• Does the product release any VOCs or leave behind any residue?

• What are the safety precautions for use of the product?

• What are the environmental impacts related to the product?

• What are the ideal storage conditions required?

• How long will the product remain stable under specific storage conditions?

• What are the environmental and safety considerations for disposal of the product or empty containers?

The selection of cleaning products or disinfectants is often not done based on scientific merits and demerits specifically when it is a consumer product. Advertising, availability and individual perceptions and preferences play a major role in selection by individual customers. However, a stringent selection process is applied when it is a commercial use product procured and used by professional cleaning service providers; in such scenarios, scientific understanding overrides cosmetic perceptions. This is to ensure that undesirable effects are minimized, and expensive materials with no real additional advantage are purchased and used.

When conducting the quality assessment/tests for professional use cleaning and disinfection products, a mere comparison of the performance of their cleaning efficacy will not suffice. The product development teams must investigate all important quality criteria way beyond the cleaning performance. Professional cleaning companies are now increasingly aware of quality aspects, and they consider hard scientific facts together with safety and efficacy of the product keeping aside the economic, cosmetic and cultural considerations.

In-house testing and assessment of the product during initial R&D by the quality control laboratory of the manufacturing companies needs further authentication. Such thirdparty testing and assessments are further carried out by specialized, qualified and recognized testing and certification laboratories as a part of quality assurance and marketing instruments. There are several local and international standards applicable for the product assessment depending on the country of origin and nature of the cleaning and disinfection product; however the testing protocols and standards from the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) are well recognized globally.

ASTM G122 - 20

Standard Test Method for Evaluating the Effectiveness of Cleaning Agents and Processes

• This test method covers a procedure for evaluating the effectiveness and capability of cleaning agents to remove contamination to the desired level.

• The purpose of these test methods is to define a procedure for evaluating the capability and effectiveness of cleaning agents to remove residues of a compound/ product from surrogate surfaces of Materials of Construction.

• The potential critical cleaning parameters related to the cleaning agent(s) under study may also be examined using these tests. Potentially critical cleaning parameters include cleaning agent concentration, temperature, time, pH, foaming, type and strength of ultrasonic energy or agitation (if used), and others. These parameters may be varied (for example, using Design of Experiments) to determine their potential optimal settings for actual use.

ASTM E2197 - 17e1

Standard Quantitative Disk Carrier Test Method for Determining Bactericidal, Virucidal, Fungicidal, Mycobactericidal, and Sporicidal Activities of Chemicals.

• This test method is designed to evaluate the ability of test substances to inactivate vegetative bacteria, viruses, fungi, mycobacteria, and bacterial spores on disk carriers of brushed stainless steel that represent hard, nonporous environmental surfaces and medical devices.

• It is also designed to have survivors that can be compared to the mean of no less than three control carriers to determine if the performance standard has been met.

• For proper statistical evaluation of the results, the number of viable organisms in the test inoculum should be sufficiently high to take into account both the performance standard and the experimental variations in the results.

• This test method should be performed by persons with training in microbiology in facilities designed and equipped for work with infectious agents at the appropriate biosafety level.

Import and sale of cleaning and disinfectant products are completely regulated and standardized in the UAE. It is important to obtain approval from the Emirates Authority for standardization and Metrology (ESMA) prior to the import of specific products category. In the emirates of Dubai it is mandatory to follow the process of product registration with Dubai Municipality. The process of product registration with Dubai Municipality requires all product specific test reports, labels, international bar code, free sale certificate in the country of origin, ingredient report, Product safety data sheets, packaging details, quality and efficacy test report from internationally recognized laboratories and assessment report from the Dubai central laboratories.

The process of product registration and time required to complete the process entirely depend on the nature of the product and the supporting documents provided by the product manufacturer. The stringent and comprehensive product import and registration process set by the Government of Dubai/Dubai Municipality is to assure that the cleaning chemicals and disinfectants used in the emirates complies with required quality, health and safety standards.

About the Author:

 Santhosh Balachandran is the Managing Director and senior consultant of EHS Management Consultants and Stalwart Solutions LLC, which are UAE-based firms that provide consultancy, solutions, trainings and various environmental solutions. In the past 20 years, Balachandran has been extensively involved in setting quality standards in packaging manufacturing, food industry, residential communities, commercial facilities and facilities management industry. His wealth of experience is well utilized by several residential and commercial development projects in the UAE, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar and India.



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