Rethinking the Triple Clean

The triple clean has been synonymous with cleanrooms for a long time. It has been the go-to remediation and prevention action for environmental excursions. The triple clean consists of three separate cleaning passes: First with a detergent to clean, followed by two more passes with a sporicidal disinfectant. The frequency is usually no more than monthly, and typically closer to quarterly or semi-annually. Additional triple cleans might be precipitated by an excursion, certification, or renovation.

USPThere are benefits to the triple clean. Multiple passes help ensure that there is complete chemical application coverage: if an area is missed the first time, it can be covered in subsequent passes. The chemicals themselves each work synergistically in providing different mechanisms of action to reduce microbial and bioburden load. Perhaps the most crucial factor is: it works. It has been the go-to treatment for excursions and has a long history of validation. However, there are downsides to the process. It is very resource-heavy, both with personnel, time, and cost. Three separate passes essentially triple the time to fully process an area, requiring extra workforce and further extending downtime. The extra personnel introduce more sources of possible contamination, and aseptic discipline tends to break down with each subsequent pass. By definition, the extra time and effort of the triple clean is required to accommodate for possible lapses in the manual labor process.

There is an alternative that greatly reduces time and labor while improving overall results: vapor bio-decontamination.

Vapor Bio-decontamination

The final steps of the triple clean can be replaced by the introduction of vaporized sporicidal agents. In this scenario, surfaces must still be cleaned to eliminate soil load. One pass with 70% IPA or suitable detergent would be sufficient. After that, the human element is eliminated from the disinfection process.

Vaporized peracetic acid (VPA) is an extremely effective sporicide. When produced with the proper equipment, the vapor droplets are exceedingly small—less than 10 microns—and, as a result, do not wet surfaces. This “Dry Fog” process uses less chemical, increases material compatibility and eliminates the need for a manual wipe down afterward.

USPThe Dry Fog evenly applies the sporicidal to all surfaces throughout the room in a fraction of the time. Difficult or even impossible-to-reach areas such as inside drawers or bins, delicate equipment and within chases are systematically treated. A six-log or better kill is readily achieved across most organisms including endospore-forming microbes.

There are some important considerations before implementing a Dry Fog regimen. The facility air supply must be turned off during the process, an event many facilities have little experience with, as cleanrooms are designed for constant air flow. Great care must be taken to seal the room to prevent the exfiltration of fog and the entry of employees during the process. And finally, the initial cost of equipment, maintenance, and training required to effectively perform the Dry Fog application, which often provides a quick return on investment, can be substantial for smaller companies.

Overall, using vaporous peracetic acid in place of a traditional spray-and-wipe SOP results in less production downtime, reduced personnel, and more consistent decontamination.

Sterile Science evaluates facilities and develops SOPs to meet their needs. Many companies outsource the treatment process to Sterile Science eliminating the need for specialized equipment and training. Sterile Science also sells equipment and provides training to those companies that are ready to self-perform.

So, rethink the Triple Clean and call Sterile Science today for a better way to clean and disinfect.

© Sterile Science LLC, All rights reserved • Privacy Policy