Comments Off on Best of 2018: IPC’s Top 5 Posts of the Year
As 2018 draws to a close, it’s time to take a look back at all that has happened over the past twelve months. This has been a very productive year for International Products Corporation and we look forward to continued growth during 2019.
We have embarked on a building renovation project and are expanding our warehouse to better serve our customers. Recently, we installed a new manufacturing filling line that provides for more efficient and quicker operations.
Throughout the year we exhibited at various trade shows and visited many of our customers and distributors worldwide.
Our on-site laboratory has worked on various customer driven research projects and continues to ensure the quality of our products.
It’s easy to see that you have a dirty surface that needs to be cleaned. Figuring out what type of cleaner to use can be tricky! Choosing the right product from the outset will make your cleaning task easier, quicker and more efficient. So, how do you know which detergent to use?…
The O-ring…the little part that plays a big role! “What are the parts of a car?” Most people will answer with “engine, thermostat, radiator, water pump, battery, alternator, ignition, steering wheel, tires, windows, doors, and seat belts”. Not too many people will mention O-rings…
We’ve all been there. Any of these scenarios ring a bell? A long road trip and your car won’t start. You’re hosting Thanksgiving dinner and your oven isn’t working. Or, it’s the worst heat wave of the summer and your air conditioning unit dies. Regardless of the scenario, we can all agree that malfunctioning equipment is extremely aggravating. If only there were a way to prevent these things from happening!…
How do you provide a consistent, high quality supply of water when you have a large volume ethanol distiller located in your backyard? The city of Fargo, ND came up with the perfect solution: reclaim water through the municipal wastewater treatment plant!…
A lubricant is a material that reduces the friction between two surfaces making it easier for them to move across each other. Lubricity measures the reduction of friction that results from using a lubricant. A higher percentage of lubricity indicates a greater reduction of force….
Did we miss your favorite post from 2018? Please let us know! We have more great content coming your way in 2019. Be sure to subscribe to the IPC blog to read the latest and greatest from the IPC team.
Happy New Year and Best Wishes for a wonderful 2019 from everyone at IPC!
Comments Off on Ergonomics: A Winning Formula For Improved Quality, Safety And Production
International Products Corporation (IPC) recently upgraded their manufacturing facility with the installation of a 20-liter liquid filling line that not only provides for a quicker, more efficient manufacturing process but also provides ergonomic benefits for workers. The new station was engineered, manufactured and installed by Inline Filling Systems.
The new equipment has designated product capabilities and is used to fill 20-liter (5-gallon) sized containers of the company’s lubricants and cleaners.
Features of the new equipment include:
Increased Fill Accuracy
Increased Worker Safety
Assisted lift devices
Automatic speed adjustments
Automatic case erector
Ergonomic Improvements Are A Win-Win
Ergonomics Reduces Injuries
Worker injuries are frequently the result of repetitive movements and strain caused by moving heavy objects. Lifting, pushing and pulling heavy loads can all cause undue strain leading to injury. Ergonomic lifting equipment helps to eliminate the strain caused in these instances. The assisted lift device on IPC’s new fill line bears almost the entire weight of the heavy bottles.
Ergonomics Improves Quality
If line workers are in pain, tired or frustrated, the quality of their work may suffer. By installing ergonomic lifting equipment, the strain and repetitive motion of lifting are removed and workers can more easily focus on the task at hand. In addition to providing ergonomic benefits, IPC’s new filling line provides increased automation which reduces the likelihood of human error.
Ergonomics Increases Productivity
With ergonomic improvements in place, jobs can be completed with less strain and fewer motions leading to a quicker, more efficient production process. Adding to the ergonomic benefits, IPC’s new filling equipment has the capacity to fill three to four times the number of bottles as the equipment previously used.
Ergonomic improvements in the workplace are beneficial to companies and their employees. Improvements in quality, production and employee well being all contribute to reduced costs and a safer work environment. A win-win for everyone!
Comments Off on Reclaiming Water To Maintain Future Economic Growth
How do you provide a consistent, high quality supply of water when you have a large volume ethanol distiller located in your backyard? The city of Fargo, ND came up with the perfect solution: reclaim water through the municipal wastewater treatment plant!
The wastewater treatment plant in Fargo, North Dakota has an auxiliary effluent re-use facility constructed specifically to produce reverse osmosis quality water destined for ethanol production. A local corn to ethanol distiller, Tharaldson Ethanol, requires approximately 1,000,000 gallons (3.8 million liters) of reverse osmosis water per day above the wastewater treatment plant’s normal processing volumes. Fargo’s wastewater control systems manager, Jeff Hoff, manages the effluent re-use facility to ensure this additional volume is met on a daily basis.
A key component of the effluent re-use facility is the ultra-filtration process, which uses 0.4μ polyvinylidene difluoride (PVDF) membranes with an upper pH limit of 10.0. These membranes are fouled primarily with petroleum sulfonates and bacterial secretions. Particularly in cold weather, the upstream BOD step has frequent “upsets,” where the bacteria die and secrete a water soluble foulant that adheres strongly to the PVDF polymer and significantly increases the trans-membrane pressure (TMP). These “upsets” must be resolved quickly to ensure a plentiful supply of pure water.
In order to determine the optimal cleaning regimen to resolve these upsets, Jeff systematically evaluated the performance of twenty different cleaners and hundreds of different combinations and concentrations, including commonly used commodities and many formulated membrane cleaners.
Jeff discovered that Micro-90®, a formulated cleaner from International Products Corporation (IPC), stood out because it performed better than all of the commodities and other formulated membrane cleaners, particularly on the bacterial secretions. What Jeff found most impressive is that this formulated cleaner worked effectively without the use of phosphates, silicates, and strong alkalis, at a membrane compatible pH of only 9.5, and at a 0.3 percent concentration.
Micro-90® is a mild, yet powerful, multipurpose, alkaline cleaning concentrate that is used for membrane cleaning as well as in laboratories, industrial applications, and critical cleaning processes. A unique chelating detergent, Micro-90® contains anionic and non-ionic ingredients which combine to produce a variety of cleaning actions. Micro-90® is compatible with UF, RO, Ceramic and NF Systems.
The Long-Term Success
This same formulation has been in use at Fargo’s effluent re-use facility since October 2010. Some of the original PVDF membranes are still used and continue to see significant TMP drops after cleaning. Although the bacterial upsets cannot be prevented, their fouling can be resolved in a predictable manner with the use of this formulated product.
The engineers at the facility recognize that using Micro-90® for regularly scheduled preventative maintenance and cleaning of the membranes proves to be an effective, safe, and economical method of keeping the plant running efficiently and the water flowing continually. Based on its effectiveness, safe profile, compatibility and economical cost per use, they have recommended Micro-90® to design engineers at similar effluent re-use facilities.
Comments Off on The ABC’s of Cleaning Validation: A Simple Primer
What is Cleaning Validation?
Cleaning validation is used to ensure that a cleaning procedure removes all trace soils, cutting fluids, fingerprints, particulates and cleaning agents from surfaces in regulated processes. Any residue must be removed to a predetermined level of cleanliness. Cleaning validation processes protect against the cross-contamination of ingredients from one batch to another, ensure that surfaces or devices are free of residue prior to any further sterilization process, and assist in ensuring product quality.
Cleaning validation is required for use in industries following Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP) as outlined by the US FDA. Manufacturers in the pharmaceutical, medical device and food and beverage industries all use cleaning validation methods to ensure that their equipment is free of waste and that subsequent products manufactured on that equipment are not jeopardized by any remaining soils or soap residue.
FDA guidelines for cleaning validation require specific written procedures detailing how cleaning processes will be validated. These should include:
Who is responsible for performing and approving the validation
When revalidation is required
Analytical methods to be used
Documentation of the studies and results
A final conclusive report stating that all residues have been removed to the predetermined level
If any part of the cleaning process is changed, the cleaning validation process must also be updated.
Cleaning Validation Methods
Various analytical methods can be used to detect cleaner residues on equipment. Each method is unique to the specific cleaner used. Cleaner manufacturers should be able to provide detailed validation methods for their products.
Regulated industries rely, in most cases, on quantitative validation methods. Quantitative validation methods provide measurable and exact results, whereas qualitative validation methods involve more subjective methods, such as visual observations.
HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography)
HPLC stands for high performance liquid chromatography. HPLC validation methods can pinpoint exact ingredients. This validation method uses pressure to force a solution through columns to separate, identify and quantify each of its components.
The columns are filled with a solid adsorbent substance. As the solution is forced through the column, each of its components reacts differently to this substance. This results in varying flow rates for each component in the solution. The sample solution is separated into its individual elements by the rate at which they flow out of the column.
Once the individual components of the sample solution are separated, various types of detectors can be used for identification. Some common detectors include:
CAD – charged aerosol detector
DAD – diode array detector
MS – mass spectrometry
HPLC validation methods separate liquids into their individual components. This information is then used to determine the level of residue of an individual component so that predetermined acceptable levels of cleanliness are met. HPLC is the most common type of quantitative cleaning validation method currently used.
TOC (Total Organic Carbon)
TOC stands for total organic compound. TOC validation methods detect carbon content in a tested sample. The results are not ingredient specific. The amount of carbon in the sample can come from any one of a number of varying sources including contamination, a dirty tank, testing equipment, ingredient residue or cleaner residue. The objective is that the overall results of TOC testing meet the predetermined acceptable levels. Results that exceed the predetermined levels are not acceptable.
UV VIS stands for ultraviolet visible spectroscopy. This detection method relies upon the absorption of light to quantitate chemicals at specific wavelengths. Sometimes, a chemical agent is added to the rinse water sample to make key ingredients visible. Chemicals absorb light differently at different wavelengths.
Methylene blue, for example, is routinely used to react to sulfonate surfactants and detect detergent residue. The intensity of the color is an indication of how much sulfonate remains in the sample.
In the illustration above, the fluid at the top of the tubes shows the water in the solution. The fluid on the bottom indicates the amount of chloroform in the test sample. As the concentration of Micro-90 increases, more sulfonate is being pulled out of the top water level by methylene blue and the methylene blue-sulfonate complex enters the bottom chloroform layer resulting in an increasing blue intensity.
UV VIS is an older technology and is not as used as often as HPLC.
The Role Of The Cleaner Manufacturer
Cleaning validation is a critical part of the manufacturing process in regulated industries. Validation methods must be developed, planned and included in the production method. Since cleaning validation methods are unique to the cleaner used, it makes sense to expect the manufacturer to provide support. By relying on the cleaner manufacturer for detailed validation methods, manufacturers in regulated industries can focus their resources on manufacturing and product development, saving a great deal of time and money.
Comments Off on Guidelines For Cleaning Pharmaceutical Processing Equipment
Cleaning pharmaceutical processing equipment is challenging. Cleaning methods, soils present, type of manufacturing equipment, surfaces cleaned, choice of cleaning detergent and temperature should all be considered when setting up a cleaning procedure. Cleaning validation methods are required. The entire cleaning process must be standardized and documented according to the FDA’s cGMP regulations.
Why Clean Pharmaceutical Processing Equipment?
Maintain product quality.
Remove all trace ingredients to prevent the transfer of ingredients from one product to the next. This is especially important when multiple products are produced on the same equipment.
Prevent equipment malfunctions that may lead to product contamination.
Comply with local and international standards and regulations to ensure consumer safety and avoid legal issues.
Increase plant performance and productivity by diminishing waste, maintaining equipment and preserving product quality.
Enhance worker safety by providing a clean working environment and smoothly functioning equipment.
Establishing A Cleaning Procedure
Pharmaceutical manufacturers are required to set up a fully documented written cleaning procedure for each piece of processing equipment in compliance with FDA 21 CFR Part 211.67. Documentation should include:
Responsibility for equipment cleaning and maintenance
Cleaning and sanitization schedules
A detailed description of the cleaning procedure
Removal of previous batch identification
Protection of clean equipment
Inspection of equipment prior to use
Manufacturers must outline each of these steps in detail to be sure that all processes are followed clearly and succinctly.
Federal regulations require a very specific description of each step of the cleaning procedure. The following details should be documented.
Frequency of cleaning – including time requirements between processing products and cleaning
Cleaning tools used – any sponges, brushes, scrapers, sprayers, wipes or equipment used to aid the cleaning process
Establishment and sequence of each cleaning step
Identification of each specific piece of equipment to be cleaned, including instructions for cleaning between batches of the same or different products
Cleaning method – clean-in-place (CIP) or clean-out-of-place (COP)
Detailed instructions for any required disassembly and re-assembly of equipment if COP methods are used. Instructions should specify the parts to be removed and any assembly aids used during this process.
Identification of all cleaning detergents and detailed instructions for their use. Usage instructions should include amounts, concentration, temperature, dwell time and application method.
Soils found on pharmaceutical processing equipment may be traces of the various ingredients used in production or soils from the actual manufacturing process such as oil, grease, dust or minerals. Understanding the soils that are present will guide your choice of cleaning detergent.
Gels, polyethylene glycol, oils, titanium dioxide, dyes, silicons, flavorings, petrolatum, paraffin, proteins, steroids, sugars, alcohol, stearates, and cornstarch are some of the typical foulants that are often found on pharmaceutical processing equipment.
Each type of soil is unique and requires the proper detergent to thoroughly clean the surface. Choose a cleaner that will best attack the soils you are trying to remove. Alkaline cleaners are the best choice for cleaning soils such as gels, dyes and petrolatum, while citric acid based cleaners are better suited for removing titanium dioxide. Protein or starch-based soils may require the use of an enzyme cleaner. Use the table below to help match the most effective type of cleaner to each kind of soil.
Type of Equipment
Mixing tanks, tablet presses, capsule fillers, centrifuges, granulators, filling lines, mixers, conveyors, filters, fluid lines, batch process tanks, tubes and flasks all need to be thoroughly cleaned. The design of the equipment must be taken into consideration. By nature of its construction, some types of equipment will be more difficult to clean than others. Hidden parts and blind holes present unique challenges.
Another important factor to consider is the how the equipment is used. Are you cleaning a dedicated production system or equipment that is used to produce a range of products? Processing equipment used to produce multiple products has a greater chance of cross contamination of ingredients.
It’s also important to select a cleaner that is compatible with the surface of the equipment you are cleaning. The cleaner manufacturer should be able to guide you and provide compatibility studies for their products.
Cleaning Method and Location
Clean-in-place (CIP) or Clean-out-of-place (COP)?
CIP is generally used for large systems and components that cannot easily be taken apart. CIP often results in less downtime since it eliminates the need to take apart or move the equipment. Automated systems, spray systems and immersion are all examples of CIP operations.
COP is most often used for smaller pieces of equipment or smaller parts of larger equipment that can be removed and re-assembled after cleaning. COP can involve either manual washing or use of machine washers. Specific instructions for disassembling and re-assembling equipment must be followed.
What cleaning method will you use?
Manual, ultrasonic, spray, machine and automated systems are all used for cleaning pharmaceutical equipment. The type of cleaning method used will impact your choice of detergent. Automatic parts cleaners and high-pressure washers require low foaming detergents.
In most cases, increasing the temperature is one of the best ways to speed up or improve the cleaning action. The temperature parameters that should be used for any individual cleaning application will depend upon the equipment and the soils that are present, as well as your choice of detergent and wash method. Check with the manufacturer for the maximum suggested operating temperature for your detergent.
The length of the cleaning cycle contributes to the effectiveness of your cleaning application. In most cases, a longer dwell time will improve the results. However, all factors – soils, temperature, substrate, detergent and cleaning method must be taken into consideration.
Thorough rinsing should follow cleaning. Rinsing removes any excess detergent left on the item. For critical cleaning applications, it is best to use deionized or distilled water, as rinsing with ordinary water may introduce new contaminants.
Cleaning validation is a part of the regulatory compliance process for cleaning pharmaceutical processing equipment. Validation ensures that all equipment is washed according to previously determined standards and that all traces of soil and detergent are removed. Validation methods are unique to each detergent and should be available from most cleaner manufacturers.
Need help choosing the right specialty cleaner for your pharmaceutical cleaning application? Contact one of International Products Corporation’s (IPC) technical specialists or request a free cleaner sample for testing. All of IPC’s specialty cleaners are registered with NSF as A1 cleaners and can be validated in FDA processes.
Comments Off on An Easy Guide to Understanding Surfactants
What is a Surfactant?
Surfactants are a primary component of cleaning detergents. The word surfactant means surface active agent. As the name implies, surfactants stir up activity on the surface you are cleaning to help trap dirt and remove it from the surface.
Surfactants have a hydrophobic (water-hating) tail and a hydrophilic (water-loving) head. The hydrophobic tail of each surfactant surrounds soils. The hydrophilic head is surrounded by water.
How do surfactants work?
When there are a sufficient amount of surfactant molecules present in a solution they combine together to form structures called micelles. As the micelle forms, the surfactant heads position themselves so they are exposed to water, while the tails are grouped together in the center of the structure protected from water.
The micelles work as a unit to remove soils. The hydrophobic tails are attracted to soils and surround them, while the hydrophilic heads pull the surrounded soils off the surface and into the cleaning solution. Then the micelles reform with the tails suspending the soil in the center of the structure.
Types of Surfactants
The hydrophilic head of each surfactant is electrically charged. The charge can be negative, positive, or neutral. Depending on the charge of the hydrophilic head, the surfactant is classified as anionic, nonionic, cationic or amphoteric.
Anionic surfactants have a negative charge on their hydrophilic end. The negative charge helps the surfactant molecules lift and suspend soils in micelles. Because they are able to attack a broad range of soils, anionic surfactants are used frequently in soaps and detergents. Anionic surfactants create a lot of foam when mixed. While anionic surfactants are excellent for lifting and suspending particulate soils, they are not as good at emulsifying oily soils.
Sulfates, sulfonates, and gluconates are examples of anionic surfactants.
Nonionic surfactants are neutral, they do not have any charge on their hydrophilic end. Nonionic surfactants are very good at emulsifying oils and are better than anionic surfactants at removing organic soils. The two are frequently used together to create dual-action, multi-purpose cleaners that can not only lift and suspend particulate soils, but also emulsify oily soils.
Certain nonionic surfactants can be non-foaming or low-foaming. This makes them a good choice as an ingredient in low-foaming detergents.
Nonionic surfactants have a unique property called a cloud point. The cloud point is the temperature at which the nonionic surfactant begins to separate from the cleaning solution, called phase separation. When this occurs, the cleaning solution becomes cloudy. This is considered the temperature for optimal detergency. For low foaming cleaners, optimal detergency is at the cloud point; for foaming cleaners optimal detergency is either just below the cloud point or at the start of the cloud point. The agitation of low foaming cleaners is sufficient to prevent phase separation.
The temperature of the cloud point depends upon the ratio of the hydrophobic and hydrophilic portions of the nonionic surfactant. Some cloud points are at room temperature while others are very high. Some nonionics don’t have a cloud point because they have a very high ratio of hydrophilic to hydrophobic moieties.
Examples of some common nonionic surfactants include ethoxylates, alkoxylates, and cocamides.
Cationic surfactants have a positive charge on their hydrophilic end. The positive charge makes them useful in anti-static products, like fabric softeners. Cationic surfactants can also serve as antimicrobial agents, so they are often used in disinfectants.
Cationic surfactants cannot be used with anionic surfactants. If positively charged cationic surfactants are mixed with negatively charged anionic surfactants, they will fall out of solution and no longer be effective. Cationic and nonionic surfactants, however, are compatible.
Examples of some common cationic surfactants include alkyl ammonium chlorides.
Amphoteric surfactants have a dual charge on their hydrophilic end, both positive and negative. The dual charges cancel each other out creating a net charge of zero, referred to as zwitterionic. The pH of any given solution will determine how the amphoteric surfactants react. In acidic solutions, the amphoteric surfactants become positively charged and behave similarly to cationic surfactants. In alkaline solutions, they develop a negative charge, similar to anionic surfactants.
Amphoteric surfactants are often used in personal care products such as shampoos and cosmetics. Examples of some frequently used amphoteric surfactants are betaines and amino oxides.
How Surfactants are used in Cleaners
Surfactants are a key ingredient in cleaning products. One thing that differentiates cleaning products is how they are made. Cleaners made from a single chemical, targeting a specific type of soil, are referred to as commodity cleaners. Cleaners that are blends of various chemical ingredients designed to work together to remove various types of soils are referred to as formulated cleaners.
Formulated cleaners usually contain four basic elements: surfactants, hydrotropes, builders and carriers. Hydrotropes are chemicals that keep the otherwise incompatible surfactants and builders stable in a solution. The carrier is either water or a solvent. These elements work together to create mechanical actions to remove soils. The end result is a product that can attack dirt on surfaces with a variety of cleaning mechanisms including emulsifying, lifting, dispersing, sequestering, suspending and decomposing soils of various types. The type of surfactants used in a cleaning product largely determines which soils they will be best at removing.
IPC offers a full line of formulated cleaners that among the safest yet most effective solutions on the market. Request a free sample to test our products for your most challenging cleaning applications.
Comments Off on How to Properly Clean Medical Devices
When it comes to medical devices cleanliness is crucial. All medical devices, whether they are disposable, implantable or reusable, must be cleaned during the manufacturing process to remove oil, grease, fingerprints and other manufacturing soils. Reusable products must also be thoroughly cleaned and sterilized between each use to avoid infecting patients or causing illness. Reaching the right level of cleanliness does not come automatically. A well planned cleaning regimen must be developed and followed carefully.
Developing a Cleaning Process
Medical device manufacturers must provide proof that their products can be adequately cleaned as part of the FDA approval process. As a result, most manufacturers now incorporate setting up a cleaning protocol as part of the design and development phase.
Factors to consider when setting up a cleaning regimen:
Soils: Choose a cleaner that will best attack the soils you are trying to remove. Enzyme cleaners are often used for medical device cleaning applications since they work well at removing organic soils. Protease enzymes in particular are a good choice for protein based organic soils like blood, fat, sweat, mucous, feces and tissue.
Surface: Titanium, plastic, ceramic, silicone and metal are some of the more common materials used in the manufacture of medical devices. It’s important to select a cleaner that is compatible with the substrate of the device you are cleaning. The cleaner manufacturer should be able to guide you and provide compatibility studies for their products.
Wash method: Common methods of cleaning medical devices include automatic washers, ultrasonic cleaners and manual washing. Factors such as soil, substrate, composition and end use of the device are taken into consideration. Regardless of the method used, it’s extremely important to be sure that all soils are removed from blind holes and internal passages of the device.
Temperature: In most cases, increasing the temperature is one of the best ways to speed up or improve the cleaning action. The temperature parameters that should be used for any individual cleaning application will depend upon the make-up of the medical device and the soils that are present, as well as your choice of detergent and wash method. Check with the manufacturer for the maximum suggested operating temperature for your detergent.
Dwell time: The length of the cleaning cycle contributes to the effectiveness of your cleaning application. In most cases, a longer dwell time will improve the results. However, all factors – soils, temperature, substrate, detergent and cleaning method must be taken into consideration.
Rinse step: Thorough rinsing should follow cleaning. Rinsing removes any excess detergent left on the item. For critical cleaning applications it is best to use deionized or distilled water, as rinsing with ordinary water may introduce new contaminates.
Validation procedures: Cleaning validation is a part of the regulatory compliance process for medical device manufacturing and reprocessing. Validation ensures that medical devices are washed according to previously determined standards and that all traces of soil and detergent are removed. Validation methods are unique to each detergent and should be available from most cleaner manufacturers.
Medical devices not only need to be clean, they also need to be sterile. Medical devices that are not properly cleaned and sterilized can lead to patient infection. Cleaning and sterilization are two distinct processes and both must be performed to ensure that medical devices meet safety standards.
The CDC defines cleaning as “the removal of foreign material (e.g., soil, and organic material) from objects…normally accomplished using water with detergents or enzymatic products”. (https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/disinfection/cleaning.html). They describe sterilization as a process that “destroys all microorganisms on the surface of an article or in a fluid to prevent disease transmission associated with the use of that item”. (https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/disinfection/sterilization/index.html). The CDC has established guidelines that are used to determine if a medical device is considered sterile. This is referred to as the sterility assurance level or SAL of a product and is defined as the likelihood that any viable microorganisms will exist on a device after sterilizing.
Why do Both?
Clearly we have two different, albeit related, processes. So, why do both? Cleaning the medical devices first ensures that they are free from soils and debris that can cause infection and reduce the efficiency of the sterilization process.
The CDC guidelines explain that “Thorough cleaning is required before high-level disinfection and sterilization because inorganic and organic materials that remain on the surfaces of instruments interfere with the effectiveness of these processes. Also, if soiled materials dry or bake onto the instruments, the removal process becomes more difficult and the disinfection or sterilization process less effective or ineffective.” (https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/disinfection/cleaning.html).
If a surface is sterilized or disinfected before it is cleaned, the remaining soils can still contribute to the growth of harmful germs and lead to further contamination. Lingering soils on the surface of the medical device can serve as a barrier and impact the efficiency of the sterilization process. If the surface is thoroughly cleaned first, and validated for cleanliness, sterilization is much more effective.
Interested in learning more about choosing the right specialty cleaner for your medical device cleaning application? Contact one of International Products Corporation’s (IPC) technical specialists or request a free cleaner sample for testing. All of IPC’s specialty cleaners are registered with NSF as A1 cleaners and can be validated in FDA processes.
Comments Off on How do I Choose the Best Detergent for My Cleaning Application?
It’s easy to see that you have a dirty surface that needs to be cleaned. Figuring out what type of cleaner to use can be tricky! Choosing the right product from the outset will make your cleaning task easier, quicker and more efficient. So, how do you know which detergent to use?
Dirt is Dirt, Right?
Absolutely not! All soils are different and need to be treated properly. A detergent that works well for cleaning grease and oil might not be the best choice for getting rid of soap scum or starchy soils. While some cleaners may work well for a broad spectrum of soils, others may be needed to target specific types of dirt.
Alkaline cleaners work well for organic soils like oils and grease, while acid based cleaners are more effective on inorganic soils such metals and salts. Knowing what type of soil you are dealing with is an important step to choosing the right detergent.
This helpful chart matches detergents to soils commonly found on parts and equipment in laboratories, pharmaceutical plants, food & beverage manufacturing sites, medical devices, filter membranes and manufacturing facilities.
What are You Cleaning?
Glass? Metal? Rubber? Electronic parts? Filter membranes? Understanding how different detergents affect different surfaces will certainly have an impact on your choice of cleaner. It’s important to be sure that the detergent you are using is compatible with the surface you are cleaning.
The manufacturer of the cleaner should be able to provide you with compatibility information for the product you are using.
How are You Cleaning?
The cleaning method you plan to use also plays a role in choosing a detergent. Some of the more common methods used in manufacturing and laboratory applications include:
• Ultrasonic cleaning
• CIP (clean-in place)
• Manual or hand wash
• Automatic washers
It’s important to choose a detergent that works well for your chosen cleaning method. For example, if you are using an automatic washer it’s wise to use a low foaming cleaner. Otherwise you may end up with a room full of foamy suds. While this is great fodder for TV sitcoms, it’s not so funny in real life.
Is Your Cleaner Safe?
There are many cleaners on the market that do a great job at removing dirt, but they contain solvents and other harmful ingredients. Look for cleaners that are both effective and safe. Many cleaners are biodegradable. Try to avoid products that contain phosphates, solvents, silicates, phenols, and substances of very high concern.
International Products Corporation’s (IPC) cleaners are safe for personnel, materials, equipment and the environment. Yet, they are powerful enough to remove the most difficult soils. This makes them excellent alternatives to hazardous solvents and chemicals frequently used for precision cleaning applications.
The Manufacturer Matters
When you select a product for your critical cleaning application you should be equally as concerned with the support provided by the manufacturer as you are with the product performance.The benefits of working with an experienced specialty cleaner manufacturer are that they can offer technical guidance and provide a variety of products to best meet your needs. Cleaner manufacturers should be able to assist their customers by providing validation methods, compatibility studies, toxicology reports, regulatory compliance, free product samples, and technical support.
There are so many variables that exist in choosing the right cleaning product. Remember to consider the soils, the surfaces, the cleaning method, the safety and the manufacturer. With careful thought and planning you can find a cleaner that meets all of your specifications. Choosing wisely makes a difference!
Download IPC’s ePaper for more information about choosing a cleaner and establishing the right cleaning parameters.
Comments Off on Get The Most Out Of Your Cleaner…Know When To Add More
5 Ways To Know When To Change Your Cleaning Solution
Choosing the best cleaner for your critical cleaning application takes time and careful consideration. With so many choices out there it can be difficult to figure out which cleaner is the best choice for your specific needs. Factors to consider:
• What is the surface being cleaned?
• What are the soils?
• What’s your cleaning method? Manual? CIP? Machine? Ultrasonic?
• What is the cleaning temperature?
• Do you need a validation method?
You’ve done your homework, run trials and have chosen the right cleaner for your cleaning application. Now it’s time to start to clean!
How much cleaner should I use?
Determining how much cleaner to use will vary based on the parameters of your unique cleaning application. International Products Corporation (IPC) recommends using a 1% – 2% concentration of their specialty cleaners for most applications. Pouring the water into the tank first, and then adding the detergent, helps to avoid excess foaming when preparing your cleaning solution. The chart below is helpful:
How do I know when it’s time to change the solution?
For many industrial and critical cleaning applications, it is extremely important to use a consistent cleaning process and keep the cleaning solution at a desired strength. Concentration control methods are procedures used to determine the concentration of a cleaning solution to ensure process consistency. When the concentration of the detergent drops, you know it’s time to change it.
IPC recommends five methods for testing the cleaning solution to determine the cleaner concentration:
1. Refractive index
3. Total alkalinity
4. Total acidity
5. Foam height
Refractive index is the “measure of the bending of a ray of light when passing from one medium into another.”¹ A refractometer is used to measure refraction. The refractive index is one way of measuring the amount of a substance in an aqueous solution. A higher refractive index indicates a higher amount of cleaner present in the solution. Conversely, a lower refractive index indicates a lower concentration of cleaner in the solution. If changes to the refractive index are found, it’s time to change your cleaning solution.
Conductivity “measures the ability of a given substance to conduct an electric current.”² Conductivity, measured in micro-siemens, can be used to determine the concentration of a cleaning solution. Cleaning solutions have a higher conductivity than water. So, a drop in the level of micro-siemens in your solution is an indication that it’s time to replace it.
This method is used for cleaners that are alkaline based (a pH above 7). Total alkalinity measures the ability of a cleaner to neutralize acid. It assesses the cleaning solution’s buffering capacity – its resistance to changes in pH caused by acid. Total alkalinity is tested by performing a titration, a technique where a solution of known concentration is used to determine the unknown concentration of another solution.
Alkaline builders bind hard water ions, so the surfactants can do their job. Without sufficient alkaline builders, the surfactants would come out of solution and become ineffective.
If the results show that the pH of your solution has decreased by one full pH unit, it’s a good indication that it’s time to change your cleaning solution.
This method is used for cleaners that are acid based (a pH below 7). Total acidity measures the ability of a cleaner to neutralize alkalinity. Similar to total alkalinity, total acidity is also tested by performing a titration. Changes in the pH of your cleaning solution occur once the soil load capacity of the cleaner has been saturated, indicating it’s time to change the solution.
Surfactants in cleaning solutions reduce surface tension, and, as a result, air may become entrapped. This leads to the formation of small bubbles or foam. If the cleaning solution is agitated, either by shaking vigorously by hand or in a blender, a layer of foam will form. The total volume can be measured in a graduated cylinder, and a foam level curve can be created by plotting the known concentration of the detergent versus the measured total volume. If the foam heights of various known concentrations of detergent are calculated, an equation can be created to determine the concentration of future cleaning solutions whose concentration level is unknown.
All of these methods for calculating the concentration of detergent in a cleaning solution can be converted into simple equations. The data obtained can be plotted on a graph and the slope of the line can be used to calculate the concentration of detergent in your cleaning solution. If you see that the amount of detergent has dropped, you know it’s time to change your cleaning solution.
Comments Off on What is the Chemistry That Makes Detergents Work?
We all have dirty surfaces that need to be cleaned. We see the soil, reach for the detergent, clean the surface and then move on with whatever we were doing, pretty much taking the whole process for granted.
Have you ever stopped to think about what happens when you clean a dirty surface? What kind of chemical reactions take place to remove the soil? Why some detergents work better than others? What exactly is the chemistry behind cleaning detergents?
Cleaners are made of what? Formulated cleaners are generally composed of four basic elements: surfactants, chelators, builders and carriers. These elements work together to create mechanical actions that remove soils.
The word surfactant means surface active agent, and, as the name implies, surfactants stir up activity on the surface you are cleaning. All surfactants have a hydrophobic (water-hating) tail and a hydrophilic (water-loving) head. The hydrophobic tail of each surfactant surrounds soils while the hydrophilic head is surrounded by water.
When there are a sufficient amount of surfactant molecules present in a solution, they combine together to form structures called micelles. As the micelle forms, the surfactant heads position themselves so they are exposed to water, while the tails are grouped together in the center of the structure protected from water.
The micelles work as a unit to remove soils. The hydrophobic tails are attracted to soils and surround them, while the hydrophilic heads pull the surrounded soils off the surface and into the cleaning solution. Then the micelles reform with the tails suspending the soil in the center of the structure.
Surfactants are classified as either anionic, nonionic or cationic. Anionic surfactants have a negative charge on their hydrophilic end which helps the surfactant molecules lift and suspend soils in micelles. They tend to create a lot of foam when mixed.
Nonionic surfactants are neutral, they do not have any charge on their hydrophilic end, which helps them emulsify oily soils.
Cationic surfactants have a positive charge on their hydrophilic ends. The positive charge makes them useful in anti-static products, like fabric softeners. If positively charged cationic surfactants are mixed with negatively charged anionic surfactants, they would fall out of solution and no longer be effective.
Chelators, substances that bind metal ions together and remove them from a solution, play an important role in the effectiveness of a cleaning detergent.
Metal ions such are as calcium, magnesium, iron and manganese are present in water. Surfactants are attracted to the metal ions in water, distracting them from acting on the soils we are trying to clean.
Chelators attract the metal ions in water and surround them. Once the metal ions are trapped by the chelators their electronic charge changes from positive to negative. The surfactants are no longer attracted to the metal ions and are free to focus on the surface soils. The chelators act as a barrier, cutting off the metal ions from the surfactants, allowing the surfactants to concentrate on fouled surfaces.
Builders are added to cleaning products to boost the effectiveness of surfactants. Builders act as buffering, softening and emulsifying agents.
Like chelators, builders soften water by neutralizing the effects of any metal ions that are present. This is done either through sequestration, holding metal ions in solution, or precipitation, causing the metal ions to fall out of the solution as insoluble materials.
Builders also serve as buffering agents, helping to maintain the stability of the pH level of the solution. This is important because the level of alkalinity of a solution will affect its cleaning strength. Builders with a higher pH target organic soils, while those with a lower pH work best for cleaning inorganic soils such as metal, oxide and scale.
Lastly, builders function as emulsifiers. They loosen dirt on the surface, breaking it down into smaller fragments. The builders then keep the loosened dirt suspended in the solution so it cannot redeposit on the surface.
Examples of commonly used builders are sodium hydroxide, sodium citrate, sodium borate,
potassium hydroxide, silicates, phosphates, citric acid, nitric acid, lactic acid, glycolic acid, and hydrochloric acid.
Carriers are used to help dissolve soils. Water is the most common carrier. Once surfactants reduce the surface tension, water can penetrate the soils breaking them up into smaller pieces and keeping them suspended in the solution, away from the clean surface.
Some cleaning detergents contain chemical solvents. Like water, their function is to break down soils into smaller fragments so the surfactants can do their job. However, many of the chemical solvents that have traditionally been used in detergents can be hazardous. As a result, many people try to avoid products that contain chemical solvents and prefer to use those that rely on water for this important function.
What’s in your cleaner?
The most effective cleaners have surfactants, chelators, builders and carriers that work together to remove dirt. Look for a formulation that produces a variety of cleaning actions to lift, disperse, emulsify, sequester, suspend and decompose soils. It’s also important to choose safe cleaning detergents that do not contain hazardous chemical solvents.
Now that you understand the chemistry of cleaning products, you’ll really appreciate what’s happening the next time you reach for your favorite cleaner and watch the dirt disappear.