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    Safer with science: How microbiology helps monitor cleaning and sterilization


    3M Clean-Trace Swab used to swab surface

    • How clean are the things we touch at home or in public settings? In the early days of the pandemic, many people became hyper-focused on scrubbing any surface they touched. In homes, in work settings and in public places, surfaces and high-touch items were cleaned thoroughly and often.

      Experts now know that the virus that causes COVID-19 is primarily transmitted through the air and the risk of infection from touching a surface is low, but the CDC still recommends that facilities have a cleaning plan.

      In healthcare facilities, dental offices and food processing plants, having a cleaning monitoring plan has always been a top priority and will continue to be of utmost importance during and after the pandemic.

      But how do these facilities ensure surfaces and instruments are clean? Enter microbiology.

    • How microbiology helps measure cleaning effectiveness

      Microbiological testing can help us detect tiny contaminants and therefore help protect us from them. That testing helps ensure that cleaning and sterilization procedures are effective in food processing and in healthcare settings.

    • Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) molecule
      Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) molecule

      Helping keep food safer from contamination

      Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) is a molecule found in all living cells and is responsible for transferring and storing energy. By testing for ATP, lab technicians can determine whether an environment or instrument has been properly cleaned.

      Learn how a chemical reaction from living organisms emits light – or bioluminescence – and can indicate contamination in food and on surfaces.

    • Technician holds biological indicator over tray of instruments

      Ensuring dental and healthcare equipment sterilization

      Biological indicators (BIs) are critical to sterilization monitoring. They use microbiology to verify that the conditions in a sterilization cycle were adequate to kill a population of resistant microorganisms.

    icon of magnifying glass examining microorganisms
    Where monitoring microorganisms is key

    • Medical patient receives care


      Monitoring cleaning efficacy of endoscopes, surgical instruments and environmental surfaces to help identify problem areas.

      Learn more

    • child sits in chair at dental office

      Dental offices

      Dental offices help verify the effectiveness of sterilization of dental instruments.

      Learn more

    • workers handle chicken in food manufacturing line

      Food production facilities

      Food production facilities test production lines for cleaning effectiveness and test food samples for contamination by bacteria.

      Learn more

    • server cleans table in restaurant

      Restaurants and cafeterias

      Restaurants and cafeterias take samples from food prep areas as well as high-touch customer areas to test for cleaning effectiveness.

      Learn more

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