Industrial disinfection, sterilization and hygiene: what is the difference?

Desinfeção industrial
5 minutes to read

Similar, but not equal. Industrial disinfection, sterilization and hygiene are similar concepts, but with important differences with practical consequences for companies and hospitals. So what does each one mean, why are they important and how can businesses implement them?

What is industrial disinfection?

Every environment contains bacteria and microorganisms that, mostly, are not harmful to humans. But pathogens, or disease-causing organisms, can be dangerous or even deadly. Industrial disinfection eliminates these pathogenic microorganisms, except for bacterial spores, in inanimate objects. This procedure ensures that the utensils, tools and equipment used do not spread diseases, and takes between 10 minutes and 12 hours, depending on several factors:

  • Prior cleaning of the object or surface;
  • Organic and inorganic load present;
  • Type and level of microbial contamination;
  • Concentration and time of exposure to disinfectant chemical agents;
  • Physical nature of the object (e.g. cracks and hinges);
  • Temperature and pH of the disinfection process.

With so many variables at stake, the use of industrial washing equipment, with disinfection capacity, is essential to ensure the safety of users and professionals.

How to achieve industrial disinfection?

A washing machine with disinfection capacity goes beyond “just” cleaning – it disinfects materials and equipment to ensure they are safe. Washing machines prepared for industrial disinfection, as with Somengil’s MultiWasher, have different cycles that ensure that each utensil is carefully disinfected.

This is the process that allows the MultiWasher to achieve the desired levels of industrial disinfection:

  1. Using cold water, the washing machine rinses each equipment to remove dirt.
  2. Detergent is then added on the right doses.
  3. Then, the MultiWasher increases water temperature to 90º and starts the industrial disinfection process. The machine maintains the temperature at this level for a variable period, depending on the wash load.
  4. The last step is drying. The filtering system guarantees that no microorganism is transferred to the instruments through the hot air used in the drying process.

This process, if executed in a controlled, automated and stable manner, benefits every intervenient.

Who benefits from industrial disinfection?

Every company in the broader food sector, from food processing to catering, benefit from an industrial disinfection system. The same is true for hospitals, where disinfection prevents the spread of infectious diseases.

In environments like these, where every minute counts, machines designed specifically for industrial disinfection save time and achieve consistent results, cycle after wash cycle. The MultiWasher,   Somengil’s industrial washing machine with disinfection capability, has an intuitive control panel, so it’s even faster to choose from one of the pre-programmed cycles and validate results.  

What is sterilization?

Sometimes industrial disinfection is not enough. In hospital environments, for example, it is necessary to sterilize kitchen utensils, textiles and work tools before they can be considered “clean”. Sterilization requires higher temperatures than disinfection, at around 130 ° C. This process destroys every microorganism on a surface and effectively prevents the transmission of diseases. Once the equipment has been sterilized, it is ready to be used again.

How to achieve sterilization of utensils and tools?

Medical and surgical devices are usually resistant to high temperatures. For this reason, they are subjected to heat, mainly steam, for sterilization. However, in recent years, there has been an increase in medical devices and instruments made of materials such as plastic, which allow sterilization at lower temperatures.

This trend has several reasons. On the one hand, the use of chemical agents in sterilizations at high temperatures has been associated with the destruction of the ozone layer. Legislation in many countries, such as the US, requires a reduction of the amount of these chemical agents that get released into the air. Finally, the exposure to steam resulting from sterilization is a risk factor for professionals working in these environments.

Sterilization at high temperatures has thus been increasingly reserved for critical equipment, which has been in contact with fluids or tissues of patients. Meanwhile, sterilization at low temperatures up to 90º has been gaining prominence as one of the most efficient ways to ensure that equipment is properly sterilized.

What is industrial hygiene?

Industrial hygiene is the set of maintenance, health and safety routines in the workplace. It involves planning, recognizing, assessing, preventing and controlling health and environmental risk factors that may have negative impacts on the well-being and safety of employees or others.

Industrial hygiene covers a wide range of dimensions related to health and safety in the workplace, ranging from ergonomics to noise levels. Issues in hygiene practices can lead to failed audits and inspections, contaminated products and expensive recalls that damage the financial results and reputation of brands.

How to achieve industrial hygiene?

Having a hygiene plan is the first step to build a happy, safe and productive work environment. A hygiene plan should include information such as the surfaces, equipment, tools and utensils covered, the list of products or cleaning agents (with instructions on their safe use and storage). It should also refer to the frequency of washing and inspection and the hygiene schedule.

Somengil, because healthcare is a priority

MultiWasher Healthtech, a state-of-the-art industrial washing machine developed by Somengil for the hospital sector, uses a unique combination of high temperatures and ecological detergents to achieve cleanliness that eliminates the risk of disease spread. The ability to automatically adapt the main washing parameters to each load, be it cooking utensils, trays or transport carts, makes all the difference in the final result. Contact our team to see the difference in action.

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