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Enzymatic Detergents and Contamination Control: A Guide for Instrument Reprocessing


Continued from page 3

The storage of enzymatic detergents is also an important consideration. High heat and high humidity will disable enzymes, degrading their cleaning ability.13 To solve this, enzymatic products should be stored at room temperature and low humidity conditions.

Finally, in order for an enzyme to perform at its full potential, the soiled surface must remain hydrated throughout the cleaning process. Pre-cleaners ensure that the soil on the surgical instrument remains hydrated in transit from the OR suite to the sterile processing department.

Today there are several types of enzymatic cleaners available in a variety of formulations, including liquids, concentrates, solids, and foam. In addition, there are aggressive, mild, and neutral formulations widely available to address the various types of soils found on surgical instruments. In general, the better performing products are those with relatively high and stable enzyme levels. Products containing high protease levels are particularly well suited for most surgical soils because the material associated with these soils are protein-based.

A current trend in the marketplace is the development of products that are easy to use and handle. Besides containing highly effective enzymes and agents to resist scaling and corrosion, solid detergents offer the additional benefit of greatly reduced product packaging and weight, which makes for easy transportation, storage and use.

When evaluating enzyme-based cleaners, it is important to consider the types of soils on which they will be used. Low- and high-temperature enzymatic formulation systems are a great option for effective cleaning performance because of their range. But ask your chemical provider how to improve the effectiveness and performance of enzymatic detergents, they will likely be able to recommend a formulation that suits your needs. Also, it is important to calibrate automated washers so the enzymes are most effective. Finally, it’s important to become familiar with the material safety data sheets (MSDS) for the products you use, read product labels and train staff on the proper product handling and storage.

Barbara Choczaj is a scientist, inventor and product formulator with Ecolab Healthcare. She holds a bachelor and master of science degree from the University of Adam Mickiewicz in Poznan, Poland. She can be reached at


1-2. Campbell M. The Behavior of Proteins: Enzymes. Biochemistry, 5th Ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson-Brooks/Cole.:2006:131.

3. Bass JE. Development of New Proteases for Detergents. Enzymes in Detergency. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker Inc.:1997:33.

4. Bass JE. Manufacturing and Downstream Processing of Detergent Enzymes. Enzymes in Detergency. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker Inc.:1997; 251-256.

5-9. Bass JE. Enzymes: Their Applications and Biochemical Characterization. Enzymes in Detergency, New York, NY: Marcel Dekker Inc.,1994: 35-39; 300-302; 303-307.

10-11. Williams G. Enzymes. Advanced Biology for You, Cheltenham, UK: Nelson Thomes Ltd., 2003: pp63-80.

12-13. Bass JE. Enzymes: Their Applications and Biochemical Characterization. Enzymes in Detergency, New York, NY: Marcel Dekker Inc.,1994: 45-46, 239.

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