Contamination Control in the COVID-19 Era
The use of disinfectants and sanitizing pre-wet wipes has become predominant in all aspects of industrial, medical, and consumer applications. Manufacturers are working hard to increase their production capacity and respond to the now much larger market for these products. In effort to better meet the increased demand for our TekniSat wet wipes, Teknipure has been expanding as well. We expect this growth to be long term as people will be cleaning more surfaces more frequently in their efforts to protect employees and facilities from exposure to COVID-19.
Additionally, we have expanded our product offerings with new hardware and mopping system options. Disposable mops are becoming more widely embraced, as innovation has led to many improvements in performance, ergonomics of use, and flexibility in the types of surfaces they can effectively clean.
Recently, we began producing pre-saturated mopheads, which arrive to you ready for use. We offer several configurations in pocket mop or the hook & loop attachment, as well as either knit or woven microfiber substrates. In this time of heightened cleaning and awareness, these are quite popular, and they provide ultimate consistency and control. Please contact Teknipure with any questions on product selection. Thank you for your continued support!
Microbiomes Thrive on the International Space Station
It was a history-making day on Saturday, May 30th, 2020, when SpaceX’s Falcon 9 carried NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Robert Behnken into space. Nineteen hours after liftoff, the duo triumphantly docked with the International Space Station (ISS). While most consider the human cargo the only living things on this mission into space, there were also millions of other stowaways hitching the ride of their lives.
We all have some of the same tiny passengers thriving on and within us too. A microbiome is a diverse colony of microorganisms that lives in and on our bodies and contributes to our overall health. It is a symbiotic relationship, and everywhere we go, they go, doing their jobs and interacting with other microbiomes along the way.
You would think the sterile conditions of the ISS would not be an environment conducive to an increase in, and much less the survival of, microorganisms. However, two 2019 studies found the opposite to be true – both the astronauts’ and the space station’s microbiomes grew when in contact with each other. The research began with samples from the ISS crew, ranging from the gut to the skin. Samples were also gathered from surface locations in the ISS. The results showed microbial footprints made their presence known – even in that sterile environment, even in outer space.
For the first study, scientists theorized that the increased biodiversity in astronauts’ gut microbiome may be due to their strictly controlled yet still diverse diets onboard the ISS. Surprisingly, they have more than 200 food and drink options giving them a varied menu, and therefore, microbiomes a diverse population to populate and propagate.
The second study looked at the surfaces of the ISS during and after the crew’s stay. A process known as Shotgun Metagenomic Sequencing was used to test the DNA in the samples. It was found that the astronauts’ microbiome contributed to 55% of the microbiome on the ISS surfaces. Researchers found that after almost 20 years of continuous human presence, the space station has developed a core microbiome of 55 different microorganisms, dominated by those associated with humans, such as Streptococcus, Lactobacillus, and Staphylococcus, just to name a few familiar ones. Timing of the sample collection, as well as location, were the dominant factors in what was found. Not surprisingly, sleeping areas revealed the most microbiome activity.
Even with all the precautions, procedures, and to-the-letter directives NASA, Space X, the ISS, and the astronauts observed and followed, little critters known as microorganisms hitched a ride on a rocket and set up camp in the expanse known as space. It’s actually pretty incredible when you stop and think about it – one could argue that they were technically the first species we know of to colonize space.
Mopping: Reusables vs Disposables
Absolute optimal cleanliness is crucial in many circumstances, and while we have seen customers reach for that lofty goal while avoiding many infectious diseases, we are especially seeing the bar raised while fighting COVID-19. Perhaps the most appropriate items for the best possible decontamination are pre-saturated wipes and microfiber mops, and they share commonality in the importance of removing contamination rather than adding it. As it relates to wipes, they are used only one time to ensure there is no cross contamination or potential recontamination of a surface with a used wiper.
Regarding mops, the same dynamics apply, but many users continue to launder mops for reuse. We are frequently asked about the performance of a mop after it is laundered and reused, and whether extensive laundering can prevent recontamination. Truthfully, the answers are not so clear. Most facilities that are asking these certainly valid questions are looking to save money in the long term, but the possible consequences may outweigh the savings.
Laundering a mop for reuse must be done under specific instructions, and the process is harsh in order to attempt the removal of previously picked up contaminants. This process, when done properly, will include chemicals, heat, and abrasion – all of these can potentially damage a microfiber mop, preventing the mop from being used for the same applications. The properties of the microfibers change with every wash. For example, the heat will cause splitting and the wedges to melt together, which not only holds onto the captured pathogens but also prevents from picking up any new ones. Equally important are the conditions and surfaces of the washing equipment, and what the load being washed contains. In the medical world, oftentimes mops are washed with garments and linens, or the same equipment is used for all of these items. This practice exposes all the items to contaminants, which may not be removed fully in the washing process, and that would result in cross-contamination. It is not reasonable to expect to effectively remove 100% of a contaminant regardless of the washing process, so inevitably, the mops are returned to service less clean each time they are reused and rewashed. Typically, laundered mops are not lot traceable, and efficacy reports or certificates are not readily available or provided. This is a major cause for concern in today’s highly regulated life science environments and may even drive the change to single-use, disposable mops at a faster pace.
Although laundering and reusing microfiber mops will probably save money in the long run, doing so does pose a risk of incomplete cleaning and disinfecting of both the mop and the area being cleaned by the mop. In many critical environments, this risk carries major liability to people and products alike, which can end up being far more costly than an effective disposable mop program. For those areas and applications that have a high level of requirement for decontamination, we would strongly advise using a disposable microfiber mop.
In the case of a microfiber mop, the product is designed to split into microscopic wedges that create the ability to pick up and hold microscopic particles, unlike rounded thread found in other products. The wedges make for the best possible performance in cleaning a contaminated surface, and when saturated with an appropriate disinfectant will not only kill the pathogens, but also remove all contaminants that otherwise would be left behind.
Either woven or knit microfiber will effectively remove total bio-burdens (organic and inorganic) with a 99.9999999% removal rating when used with disinfectant. No other fabric shares these properties or level of effectiveness. A quality disposable microfiber mop will also provide the user a Certificate of Conformance, and full lot traceability. In the interest of consistency and control, pre-saturated mops have become quite popular as a ready for use option. The most popular configuration is our flat pocket-style mops, which can be used on floors, walls, and ceilings. Traditional laundered mops are limited to cleaning the floor and less ergonomic.
It is important to understand the needs of the area being cleaned, as different applications or controlled environments will require different levels of cleanliness; although ideally, we would want the surface area to be cleaned completely and appropriately in all areas. When considering which mop to choose, you must first review the requirements for the surface area and applications in question to make the best possible decision. When comparing the performance of a reused mop, they are similar in first use, but only during the first use.
We recommend customers give higher consideration to security in knowing that the surface areas will always be cleaned appropriately, versus the little bit of savings obtained by reusing mops. Peace of mind and certainty of no cross-contamination are the goals, especially when it comes to eliminating infectious diseases (like COVID-19) and pathogens. For assistance in selecting the right disposable microfiber mop, please contact Teknipure at 844-309-2376 or visit www.teknipure.com.
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