BEYOND THE SENSES: Measuring True Cleanliness
Measuring cleanliness seems so easy. To tell if something is clean or dirty, just look at it: A layer of grime? A bad smell? Obviously dirty. Wiping it away and making it clean-looking and odor-free seems to solve the problem. But measuring cleanliness—and doing it right—is a little more complicated than that. Dangerous bacteria like salmonella, campylobacter, or e.coli can easily pass the sight and smell test. To make sure something is really clean, and to know for sure whether it’s hiding any potentially harmful bacteria, you need to use something a little more high-tech than your senses.
Tools and Education
A lot of people don’t realize that there are tools built specifically for measuring cleanliness, but these tools have been around for quite awhile.
One of the most common methods is to measure levels of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is a biological indicator that shows how much organic matter, dead or alive, is on a surface. ATP is an enzyme that is present in all cells, and scientific tools can measure how much of this enzyme is still on a surface. Shipping samples off to a laboratory for testing is an unreasonable expectation, but that’s not necessary—luckily, handheld meters and testing swabs are now widely available to sample the ATP levels on different surfaces.
Using the Tools
In their simplest form, there are two parts to these tools; the swab and the meter. Basic use is easy. Swab the surface, snap the swab to release the reactive agent and insert it into the hand-held tester. The tester then reports whether ATP is on the surface and how much there is.
Other tools are more elaborate, acting as handheld computers that use keypads with programmable sample plans. But regardless of which type of tool you use, you can test any surface, wet or dry, to find out how much of that telltale ATP enzyme is present.
The tool is especially useful to show whether cleaning was effective. Try this: Before you start cleaning, sample several areas to determine the base level of contamination. Sample again after you’ve cleaned, so you can see whether your cleaning methods are effective. It can be quite eye-opening to see how well you’re cleaning, or how much contamination you’re leaving behind. Hard data will give you peace of mind that the job was done correctly, and you can be satisfied that the area is truly clean.
It’s All About the Data
Keeping a less-than-clean business can put the safety of your building inhabitants at stake. Your eyes and nose aren’t physically capable of seeing the kinds of harmful bacteria that can do real damage. But with a measuring tool, you don’t need to nervously look at a surface and wonder if it’s clean; you can actually check and know for sure. Isn’t technology great?
To learn more about Kaivac systems, contact the company.