Going back to basics

15 May 2014

The cleaning industry has recently seen a change in thinking with regards to cleaning. The focus once again now seems to be more on 'good old fashioned' thorough cleaning practices such as dry steam cleaning, argues Thomas Stuecken, chairman of OspreyDeepclean.

More and more companies, infection control practitioners and hygiene specialists are beginning to challenge the over-reliance of killing pathogens with harsh chemicals and instead are turning their focus back to 'deep cleaning' practices as a prerequisite for their daily cleaning regimes. Dry steam vapour leaves surfaces sanitised, decontaminated, dry and ready to be used immediately thus avoiding unnecessary downtime. More contact time is required to achieve the necessary efficacy when using chemicals followed by rinsing off the surfaces and drying time. This is not needed with the use of dry steam vapour.

The new trend of focusing on the safe removal of pathogens further benefits the customer environment in as far as it does not encourage antimicrobial resistance and also avoids 'destructive decontamination', which can cause damage to the fabric of the customer environment and reduces cleanability. The OspreyDeepclean equipment uses an environmentally friendly water based technology as an alternative weapon in the fight to combat infections and cross contaminations.

Dry steam works on the principal of using normal clean, cold tap water and heating it to boiling point whereby the water enters a new form and turns from liquid into a gaseous state with very few water particles at micron level. This immediately penetrates the surfaces, including all cracks and crevices. The heat saponifies the dirt, grease and grime, making them ready for removal. Removal is generally achieved via microfibre and/or using an inbuilt vacuumation system. In the process of heating the water to a dry steam vapour, one litre of water converts to approx. 1,600 litres of dry steam vapour! As such, the technology is completely environmentally friendly as it is based on using one of the more commonly abandoned resources; water.

A study of steam 

Since 2008, OspreyDeepclean has been successfully demonstrating the efficacy of steam in sanitising and decontamination. The company has always been at the forefront of design and manufacture of dry steam technology and were the first company to conduct a study to measure the efficacy of steam within the healthcare and patient environment.

This study was validated by the largest research institute in The Netherlands: TNO. As an independent organisation established in 1932, TNO offers objective, scientifically founded judgements. OspreyDeepclean worked closely with TNO engineers and a study was designed to investigate and validate the safety, suitability and efficacy of a dry steam vapour system in the daily and periodic cleaning practices within a hospital environment. The study not only found that dry steam vapour safely removed dirt, grease and grime, it also found that it achieved this efficacy through the safe removal of pathogens and biofilm from the environment rather than by killing. The overall result was a sanitised and pathogen-free surface.

Dry steam machines are now widely available, in various sizes and with various functions: steam only, steam and vacuum, and steam, vacuum and chemical. They may vary in size and performance but they all utilise the same resource. Even the largest cleaning in place (CIP) equipment being operated in 24/7 industrial environments only uses cold, clean tap water but achieves water savings of up to six million litres per annum! The water saving benefit means that all OspreyDeepclean and OspreyFrank machines are listed on the DEFRA water technology list. By purchasing equipment listed on the Water Technology List (WTL) businesses are able to claim significant financial savings within the UK as well as reduce their impact on the environment.