The Hidden Downsides of Super-concentrated Disinfectants

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Disinfectants, such as KennelSol®, are typically sold in concentrations meant to be diluted in water for convenient application and storage. We sell KennelSol in both a regular 1:64 concentrate, as well in a 1:256 concentration, but our most recommended choice for animal care facilities would be the 1:64 concentration. While we do make and sell a high-concentrate version, we recommend the 1:64 concentrate because there are hidden downsides to using high-concentrates (also called ‘super-concentrated’) disinfectants.

High-concentrate disinfectants are disinfectants designed for a 1:128 or greater dilution ratio. Though HC’s do have a place for use (like within automated floor scrubbers), they are generally not considered to be the best overall choice for routine cleaning and disinfecting needs. And this is for three reasons. First, without automated diluting equipment, they are easily prone to waste by the person doing the diluting. Second, they do not contain enough surfactants to clean as effectively as regular concentrates are capable of doing (and cleaning is 90% of the battle against disease control). And third, high-concentrate solutions do not contain enough dyes and/or fragrances for accurate visual dilution and effective odor control. It’s just too much that needs to be packaged into such a small quantity of concentrated material. That’s why regular concentrates are more effective – for you can pack more punch into the solution to get the job done.

Dilution Ratios

First, a quick note about dilution ratios. A 1:64 disinfectant-to-water dilution ratio calls for 2 ounces of disinfectant mixed into every gallon of water. 1:128 calls for 1 ounce per gallon, and 1:256 is one half ounce per gallon.

Prone to Waste

As you can imagine, high-concentrate disinfectants, which use 1 ounce or less per gallon of water, require very precise mixing to avoid waste. Consider this: every extra quarter ounce of 1:128 dilution, that’s an extra quarter dose paid for and used. For a 1:256 dilution, that’s an extra half dose. Over the course of an entire bottle, that’s a 25-50% loss in cost effectiveness.

These tight tolerances might not mean much at first glance, but when you add in the human element, people often pour solutions into buckets until they see something in dilution that looks pleasing to their own eyes. After all, something that looks like water doesn’t convince the user that it’s going to be very effective, right? So isn’t more, better? Well, no not really. Adding more just creates needless waste. The reality is, that it’s physically impossible to pack enough dyes and fragrances into the small quantity of super-concentrates to see a satisfactory color in dilution and/or to provide adequate odor control.

A person doing the mixing, looking for visual cues, will be prone to using more solution than the recommended dilution ratio. The bottom line: wasted money. You’re paying for a 1:128 or 1:256 mixture thinking you’re saving money, but you’re really not.

Automated diluting systems, such as our HydroClean and HydroMaid units, can prevent such wasteful excess. These systems can be set to automatically dilute the ratios you need, and will always mix the solutions properly. However, this only addresses one of the three reasons high-concentrates are not our preferred recommendation for a disinfectant concentration.

Not enough Surfactant

High-concentrate disinfectants when properly diluted, lack sufficient concentrations of surfactants to ensure effective cleaning of surfaces. Simply put, since cleaning is 90% of the battle against disease control, by not using enough cleaning material (the surfactants), you are not going to clean the surface as effectively as you could as when using solutions with appropriate amounts of surfactants to do the job properly.

Since cleaning accounts for more than 90% of your ability to control contagions, you can’t afford to be skimpy at paying attention to this vital component of sanitation. A standard dilution (1:64 concentrates) contains sufficient surfactants to ensure adequate cleaning of surfaces so that the disinfectant portion of the product can most effectively go to work on remaining microorganisms.

Poor Odor Control

Recall that part of the reason high-concentrate disinfectants are prone to waste is an insufficient concentration of dyes and/or fragrances to provide a satisfactory visual cue for dilution and/or appropriate odor control. This failure extends to the solution’s overall efficacy as a disinfectant solution. One of the roles a disinfectant plays in an animal care facility is as an odor control agent. Indeed, proper odor control is one of the properties of an ideal disinfectant, since it has an impact on customer perception of a facility, as well as the psychological well-being of the staff and animals.

Once diluted, high-concentrate solutions do not contain enough material to sufficiently control odors or produce a pleasant facility fragrance. The result is a facility that may not smell as well as it could. Our studies have demonstrated time and again the power of perception. When pet owners typically visit a facility, three dominant thoughts usually control their perceptions; what’s it look like, what’s it smell like, and how am I treated. So you really want to pay attention to odor control!

And to cap off the discussion of this topic, if an odor bothers you, you can bet it also bothers pets who have a much more heightened sense of smell than people do. And that translates into stress which is one of the most powerful contributors to disease transmission. Stressed pets get sick more easily than those who are not stressed.

Bottom Line

High-concentrate disinfectants have their place, which is part of why we manufacture and carry KennelSol HC. But in our opinion they are not the best choice for effective routine disinfection of an animal care facility. They are prone to waste, which negatively impacts your bottom line. And even with automated dilution systems, high-concentrate solutions are proven to be less effective as cleaners and odor controllers than a 1:64 concentrate.

For your routine broad-spectrum surface disinfection needs, we recommend our 1:64 dilution KennelSol, for it’s as close to an ideal disinfectant as is available to the animal care industry. KennelSol cleans very well, leaves no doubt as to whether your surfaces are properly disinfected, and provides a fresh and pleasant wintergreen fragrance that positively impacts customer perception.

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