The Importance of Understanding Quat Binding

by Lawton Brothers | Aug 10, 2015

periodic table

Many cleaning supplies on the market contain Quaternary Ammonium Chloride, better known as “Quat.” In theory, this active ingredient is extremely effective. It has a long shelf life, low toxicity and is effective against germs, bacteria and viruses. The only problem is that its tendency to bind to textiles can render it useless and even harmful in some circumstances. 

Quats are positively charged ions, and many cleaning textiles are composed of negatively charged ions. You can see where this is going, positive and negative ions are strongly attracted to each other. 

Studies have found that quat binding reduces the efficacy of these products. After binding, the solution contains less than half parts per million noted on the label. This renders the disinfectant “off-label,” and now violates federal law. Even worse, it’s not cleaning as it should and can create an environment where microorganisms can become disinfectant-resistant. For our janitorial teams who work in the health care setting this is extremely alarming. Many teams are unaware this chemical reaction happens and continue cleaning, blissfully ignorant. 

The lack of knowledge in this arena is troublesome. As a janitorial supply company, we find in necessary that all of our clients to understand why quats can be ineffective and potentially dangerous if not used correctly. In our next blog we’ll discuss best practices for cleaning with quats, what you can do to retain their efficacy and which materials are best suited for this powerful product. 

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