As the creators of SHYIELD™ Disinfectants, we often write about the importance of disinfecting greenhouse surfaces to prevent the spread of both plant and human pathogens. But in the process of getting rid of harmful microorganisms, there’s another step that is at least as important as disinfection – the need for cleaning and removing soils from surfaces.
So why does cleaning matter so much? To understand this, picture a pair of bud trimming scissors covered in a layer of resin. As you probably know from experience, this resin can be tough to remove once it gets stuck on your tools and other surfaces throughout your facility. To get rid of this, a product with detergency properties, like soaps and commercial cleaning products, is needed to dislodge this tough organic residue that is stuck to the surface.
When it comes to infection prevention, this cleaning step is especially important. Consider a pair of scissors contaminated with powdery mildew; it would be nearly impossible to properly kill the fungus if it was shielded by a layer of dirt. For this reason, cleaning and disinfection go hand in hand – cleaning is required to remove dirt residue from the surface, and disinfection is the process of actually killing harmful microorganisms to prevent them from being spread to other plants.
This becomes a key factor to consider when selecting a disinfectant. Disinfectants are good at killing pathogens, but many lack detergency properties, meaning that they are not able to effectively clean and remove dirt residue from the surface at the same time. Disinfectants that lack detergency properties may not be effective on surfaces that contain even small amounts of soils, resin or any other organic contamination. These types of products will be unable to kill pathogens unless surfaces have been pre-cleaned with a separate detergent. The need for a second product adds a significant amount of time and effort to the overall procedure.
However, this isn’t the case with all disinfectants – some products, such as SHYIELD™, are one-step disinfectants. These products contain detergents, also called surfactants, built into their formulation, which allows them to remove soils and kill pathogens in one step. In addition to cleaning surfaces, this also ensures that the disinfectant will not be inactivated by whatever dirt may be present on the surface. While heavily soiled areas should be dry-cleaned before disinfection, one-step products eliminate the need for a separate detergent. In cannabis production facilities, these products have a huge leg up over the competition, as leftover dirt on surfaces is a fact of life.
There’s no doubt that disinfection is a critical piece of your infection prevention program, but it can’t work alone. Cleaning is just as important in the ongoing fight against pathogens throughout your facility.