Many biotech companies deploy strong chemicals to clean and disinfect their equipment. However, if handled in the wrong way, this can lead to dangerous problems such as antibiotic resistance. As the EU prepares to release new guidelines on good manufacturing practices, it’s time to revise how cleaning is approached in the industry.

To effectively control contamination and ensure sterile work processes, the biotech industry is increasingly turning to harsh disinfectants. This trend roots in the common belief that aggressive disinfectants are the most efficient remedy, explained Angelika Kowatsch, quality manager at comprei, an Austrian company with over 20 years of experience in cleanroom maintenance. 

According to Kowatsch, this conception does not hold. “If the right strategy is in place and executed with proper materials by well-trained employees, it is not necessary to use aggressive agents.”

While aggressive cleansers and disinfectants do not necessarily give a better result than mild products, they can entail several adverse effects. For example, chlorine-based agents are not only aggressive against germs, but also towards work surfaces, which can wear down scientific equipment. Additionally, they can cause respiratory or vision problems in cases of prolonged exposure. Adverse health effects have been reported for other commonly employed biocides too, such as triclosan.

Aggressive strategies increase antibiotic resistance 

According to a report in Nature Communications last year,