Slow the Spread: Selecting the Right Sanitizing Method for Medical-Grade Plastics

March 27th, 2020
By Mandy Schneiker

Keeping up with routine cleaning and sanitizing of medical-grade plastics (such as nurse call components, accessories, and other devices) can help prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus – but there are certain steps to follow (and products to use) to make sure you do so effectively.

Thorough, effective cleaning of equipment as soon as practical after use reduces the possibility of viruses spreading between patients and staff. When using cleaning and sanitizing products, always be sure to read and follow the directions from the manufacturer (contact time, application method, etc.) and wear a new pair of gloves every time.

In unique situations when sanitization is even more crucial, hospitals and long-term care facilities may call on staff who don’t normally sanitize equipment to do so. If they’re not sure what process to follow – or which product(s) to use – they may cause unintentional damage.

To make sure you understand what can (and can’t) be used to sanitize the medical-grade plastic in your facility, we’ve gathered lists of approved and non-approved cleaning agents. Share this information with anyone on your team who may be sanitizing patient communication systems and other devices.

Acceptable Cleaning Agents

Cleaning and sanitizing devices don’t require fancy chemicals. The list of acceptable cleaning agents for medical-grade plastics is short – and the products are readily available:

  • Isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol)
  • Mild dish soap
  • Water (do not immerse)

In isopropyl alcohol solutions that contain between 60% and 90% alcohol (40% to 10% purified water), viruses such as COVID-19 are killed rapidly – within 30 seconds. The solution is also mild enough that it won’t damage equipment or degrade medical-grade plastic.

Unacceptable Cleaning Agents

Although these harsher chemical compounds may seem like they sanitize well (in some cases), they can also damage medical-grade plastic or cause plastic components to fail. As a result, the following shouldn’t be used:

  • Acetones (propanones)
  • Amines or ammonia compounds
  • Aromatic and chlorinated hydrocarbons
  • Ethers
  • Hydrofluoric or hydrochloric acids
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Inorganic hypochlorites, including bleach
  • Ketones
  • Toluene

Acceptable Common Cleaning Agents (Use with Discretion)

There are a few common cleaning agents that are used on medical-grade plastic. Although they sanitize and won’t create major problems quickly, they do contain additives that can break down plastic over time. If you choose to use these, do so with discretion – and avoid using them too often:

  • Metrex CaviWipes towelettes
  • PDI Super Sani-Cloth wipes (purple top)

Unacceptable Common Commercially Available Cleaning Agents

Lastly, there are some commercially available cleaning agents used in healthcare settings that contain significant amounts of chemicals that cause damage to medical-grade plastic. Using these will result in reduction of structural integrity, leading to cracks and potential failure:

  • PDI Super Sani-Cloth AF3 (gray top)

By choosing options from the “acceptable” categories, you’ll effectively clean and sanitize your medical-grade plastic while also helping to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

Executive Director of Healthcare Sales Mandy Schneiker has more than a decade of experience working with healthcare technology and medical equipment and supplies. She has a passion for streamlining technology and workflow to help healthcare systems improve staff and patient outcomes.

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