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Cleaning, Disinfecting and Sterilizing Plastics

General Cleaning

There are numerous ways to properly wash, disinfect or sterilize plastics. Washing Plastics with a Mild Detergent is sufficient for most general applications. Be sure to rinse with tap water, and then rinse again with distilled water. Most plastics, particularly the polyolefins (PPCO, PP, PMP, LDPE, and HDPE), have non-wetting surfaces that resist attack and are easy to clean. It is important to not use abrasive cleaners or scouring pads on any plastic. Do not use strong alkaline cleaning agents with polycarbonate (PC).

Plastic Sterilization vs. Plastic Disinfection

When considering methods for sterilization procedures, it is important to differentiate between sterilization and disinfection. Sterilization kills all viable microorganisms. Disinfection only reduces the number of viable microorganisms. Commonly used disinfectants include alcohol, iodophors, quaternary ammonium. 

How to Clean, Disinfect and Sterilize Plastic Material

Gordon Brush® has provided several ways to properly clean plastics. Only some of these methods may be applicable to your specific product.
  • Wash the container: For proper plastic disinfection wash the plastic with anti-bacterial dish soap and hot water. The soap will immediately kill surface bacteria, but may not guarantee complete sterilization; combining washing with another method below is more effective. For the best results always use a non-diluted alcohol rinse when washing. Additionally, both rubbing alcohol and grain alcohol kill bacteria on plastic surfaces. 
  • Soak the plastic: For complete plastic sterilization soak the plastic container in a bleach-water solution of about 5 to 10 percent bleach. Bleach will not take long to disinfect, so the soaking time is minimal.
  • Heat plastic: This can be done in a hot dishwasher rinse, but a microwave is more effective. Wet the plastic container first, as the interaction between the microwave's heat and water is what causes sterilization. Place the plastic container in a microwave on high power for approximately two minutes. Be cautious as both the dishwasher and microwave can melt plastic. Polypropylene plastics are stronger than standard plastics and can withstand high heat.
  • Place plastics under a UV lamp: Ultraviolet plastic sterilization is a safe, non-heated method used widely in food processing, laboratories and water treatment. Although a UV lamp is not the most common kitchen or garden tool, UV lamps are commercially available. 

Brushes for Cleaning, Disinfecting & Sterilizing Plastics

Gordon Brush® provides numerous types of sterilizer cleaning brushes for your plastic container disinfection and sterilization needs. Our brushes for disinfecting, cleaning and sterilizing plastics provide a highly effective way to properly clean plastics. Some of the sterilizer cleaning brushes that we offer include:
  • Acid Brushes - Acid brushes are used to apply glue, or other liquids and [certain] chemicals, and for quick small-area cleaning or wiping applications.
  • Applicator Brushes – These sterilization brushes are regularly used within the medical field for cleaning and sterilizing diverse types of medical equipment.
  • Block Brushes – The unique fill material within our block style sterilizer cleaning brushes are ideal for cleaning, sterilizing and disinfecting plastic containers.
  • Chemical Resistant Brushes – Our chemical resistant brushes are perfect for cleaning plastics that have had chemical coatings applied to them during manufacturing.
  • Cleanroom/Heat Tolerant Brushes – Our cleanroom/heat tolerant brushes for disinfecting plastics are highly useful for applications that need heat treatment or cleanroom requirements.
  • Flow Thru Brushes – This unique type of sterilizer cleaning brush enables liquid to flow through the synthetic or natural bristles of the brush. This provides a plastic disinfection process that combines both bristles and liquid.
  • Hygienic/Sanitary Brushes – These brushes minimize the potential for trapping bacteria and other contaminants during plastic disinfection and sterilization. The bristles on these brushes are sturdy enough for thorough, reliable cleaning, but soft enough for safe, scratch-free use on most materials.
  • Metal Free Brushes – These brushes for sterilizing, cleaning and disinfecting plastics are ideal for cleaning the inside of straight and curved plastic pipes and tubes. They’re also perfect for cleaning valves and fittings, or any application where aggressive scrubbing is required, and where surface scratching must be avoided.
  • Spiral/Twisted-in-Wire Brushes – These brushes are ideal for applications that require an aggressive clean without the threat of scratches or abrasions to your plastic container.
  • Tooth-Brush Style Brushes – These types of brushes are used primarily for plastic applications that require fine detailing. The tooth brush bristles easily slide in-between crevices that are hard to clean with other types of brushes.
  • Utility Brushes – We carry numerous types of utility brushes for your plastic sterilization and disinfection needs. Our customized utility brushes provide a bevy of options for your unique project requirement needs.
  • Valve Brushes – Our valve sterilizer cleaning brushes provide complete coverage when cleaning your valves and other plastic container orifices.

Why Sterilize Plastic?

Plastic sterilization is used to reduce or eliminate bioburdens to a safe level. A bioburden refers to the number of microorganisms present within the plastic, including bacteria, virus, and fungi. Microbiologists can test for the types and numbers of bioburdens that are present within the plastic, including pyrogens, which are remnants of bacteria that carry endotoxins and cause fevers. Additionally, an item may be sterile, but still contain pyrogens.

Furthermore, when plastic is glass-reinforced, it can withstand higher temperatures and be sterilized and depyrogenated at the same time. Exposure to temperatures of 600ºF or higher kills microorganisms and burns endotoxins. The higher the temperature, the shorter the exposure time needed for depyrogenation. Unfortunately, most plastic won't survive the additional depyrogenation temperatures, so it is frequently sterilized and then washed with pyrogen-free water.

What Sterilization Method Should I be using with My Plastic Medical Device?

Click here for: A technical whitepaper 'Sterilization of Plastics' from our friends at Zeus Industrial Products, Inc.

Contact Gordon Brush® Today

Contact us for more information on our sterilizer cleaning brushes and brushes for disinfecting plastics, or for a custom quote today.



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