This is part one of a three-part article about quay binding.

Quaternary ammonium chloride (quat) is an active ingredient in disinfectants that are used widely throughout the cleaning industry. These disinfectants are popular because of their effectiveness against germs, bacteria and viruses; their relatively low toxicity at proper dilution; low odors; and long shelf life.

When used properly, quat disinfectants can be very effective. But if used incorrectly, quat binding can occur, drastically reducing the cleaning efficacy.

Quat binding is still a relatively new and misunderstood issue in the jan/san industry. It is garnering more attention, however, because of its potential to negatively impact cleaning results.

The phenomenon of quat binding occurs when the active ingredient (quaternary ammonium chloride) becomes attracted to and absorbed into fabrics. The science behind how this happens is simple: Quats are positively charged ions, and cotton and other natural textiles are negatively charged; positive attracts negative.

The result is that at least a portion of the quat does not end up on the surface it is supposed to be cleaning. In fact, one study found that the quat level of disinfectant in a solution-filled pail was decreased by 50 percent after a cotton cloth was soaked in the pail for just 10 minutes. That means the solution applied to the surface with a cotton cloth would contain only half of the parts per million (ppm) listed on the label.

“As soon as this phenomenon occurs, the quat disinfectant is off label and in violation of federal law,” says J. Darrel Hicks, author of “Infection Prevention for Dummies.” “The worst part is that the disinfectant isn’t killing pathogens as it should and, in fact, may be producing microorganisms that are resistant to the disinfectant.”

Despite the troubling implications, many within the industry remain uninformed about quat binding.

next page of this article:
Quat Binding A Bigger Issue In Foodservice Industry