Hydrogen peroxide is an excellent sterilizing solution to include in your cleanroom’s standard operating procedures for cleaning. Sterile controlled environments must rigidly adhere to cleaning and disinfecting regimens and most include hydrogen peroxide.
Hydrogen peroxide disinfection is effective against a wide variety of micro-organisms and is cost-effective, it is a safe alternative to other methods that are dangerous for human health such as use of ethylene oxide (EtO), formaldehyde, peracetic acid, chlorine dioxide, or ozone.
Particularly in pharmacy cleanrooms, hospital environments, and other biological and life sciences applications, contamination can be catastrophic, not just for the company’s reputation but, more importantly, for customers who ingest or are injected with the manufactured products.
Wipedown and disinfection of all surfaces frequently using the right cleanroom chemicals and procedures is paramount to maintaining an asceptic environment. Let’s consider hydrogen peroxide for sterilization of cleanroom surfaces.
What Is Hydrogen Peroxide?
Most people’s first aid kit at home include hydrogen peroxide (H202) to prevent and cure infection in surface wounds.
H202 has a very simple chemical structure with 2 oxygen atoms that are bonded to its own hydrogen atom as well as bonded together. The only difference between water and hydrogen peroxide is an extra atom of oxygen. It is that extra oxygen atom that gives hydrogen peroxide its power to destroy bacteria, challenging bacterial spores, and other microorganisms.
History of Hydrogen Peroxide as a Sterilant
As is often the case, a process or product is created for military or aerospace needs, then later utilized in industry.
In summer of 1994, a Japanese religious cult known for terrorism, Aum Shinrikyo, released sarin nerve gas in Matsumoto just outside Nagano a mere 4 years before the Winter Olympic Games were held in the region. Sarin nerve gas is approximately 26 times more deadly than cyanide.
US government leaders and security specialists recognized the potential of bio-warfare after this relatively small, but devastating event poisoned 600 people killing 7 and hospitalizing 58. Scientists at the ground-breaking Sandia National Laboratories were tasked with devising systems that could counteract a broad spectrum of biological terrorist act that escaped prevention. The systems had to be of low toxicity with minimal corrosiveness.
By the late 1990s, Sandia Labs developed hydrogen peroxide disinfecting systems for practical, rapid, and safe bio-decontamination. The Decon7 foam is the key system that was developed. As the federal government required great quantities of the hydrogen peroxide foam, it was licensed to private industries that quickly realized its value and marketed it for a wide variety of industrial and health sector applications. Want to learn more about the development of the first hydrogen peroxide disinfecting systems? Here’s an interview with Dr. Mark Tucker who was at the Sandia Labs during its development.
How Does Hydrogen Peroxide Disinfect?
Hydrogen peroxide’s oxygen atoms are highly reactive meaning that they attract electrons, stealing them from bacteria walls causing cell death. This process is called oxidation.
Using Hydrogen Peroxide to Disinfect Cleanroom Surfaces
Hydrogen peroxide is most often used as a 3-6% solution diluted with sterile water. As the sterilant is generally wiped on, sterile cleanroom wipers with low lint levels are used to apply and wipe away the solution.
Most of our customers prefer pre-wetted hydrogen peroxide wipes for both convenience and consistency of solution strength and saturation.
Pre-saturated hydrogen peroxide wipes are incredibly beneficial to reduce waste of cleaners since hydrogen peroxide is unstable and over time breaks down into inert oxygen gas and water. This reduces the efficacy of the solution if it is left over between cleanings. Pre-wetted wipes ensure that the solution is always perfectly ready to use for effective disinfection.
However, if solutions are mixed in your cleanroom or you purchase ready-to-use hydrogen peroxide solutions, you will find they are packaged in opaque bottles to eliminate light exposure which slows the degradation process.
Of course, prepackaged wetted wipes may also degrade so it is vital to keep track of the age of your supplies inventory and have strict protocols for replacing expired cleanroom supplies.
Another key principle of disinfecting with hydrogen peroxide is to clean the surface with detergent removing any debris, lint, or soiling before applying the solution. Any debris or residue on the surface will consume the hydrogen peroxide reducing its sterilizing power. Also, note that most often, between cleaning with detergent and disinfecting with hydrogen peroxide, deionized water should be used to rinse the surface.
To apply any sterilant, use linear strokes to wipe moving from the cleanest to dirtiest area. This simple principle promotes the best outcome by avoiding recontamination. Most cleanroom cleaning procedures in pharmacies, hospital labs, and other biological, medical, or life sciences applications recommend a second wipedown with hydrogen peroxide to ensure removal of any endotoxins left from the disinfection process.
We Can Help
Talk with our cleanroom consultants about the hydrogen peroxide sterilant solutions for your cleanroom. We help you find the best products for your protocols and your staff. Ask for free samples on any of our cleanroom consumables.
Important note: ensure you follow your cleanroom’s procedures. The information provided above is for education and can be used to discuss potential changes to cleanroom supplies or procedures, but should not be used as a replacement for any procedure in your environment unless officially adopted.