Spray and wipe techniques involve manually dispersing liquid agents by way of rags or mops. This is a limited method of decontamination as it is very difficult to apply liquid agents to every area where microorganisms might be found in an effective manner. Microscopic cracks and crevices can be easily missed and achieving the required contact time for a sterilization level kill is very challenging. It is also very difficult to effectively clean areas such as the ceiling, inside intricate equipment, ventilation grates, etc; common places where bacteria might be hiding. Spray and wipe techniques are not an ideal choice when a high-level of sterilization is required and should only be implemented when extremely low levels of antimicrobial reduction is needed.
The Principles of Effective Decontamination are the underlying fundamentals which must be achieved in order to ensure a successful decontamination cycle and apply to all decontaminating agents. Each agent's chemical and physical properties will affect the extent to which these principles are met and will influence the overall effectiveness of the decontamination cycle. Environmental factors will influence these properties and will play an important role in the effectiveness of your agent.
In order for any sterilant to be successful, it must reach all surfaces. True gases such as chlorine dioxide gas, formaldehyde, and ethylene oxide offer the best distribution properties. Liquids and vapors, such as hydrogen peroxide, are limited by temperature and environmental factors which negatively affect their distribution properties and effectiveness.
In addition to complete distribution, the sterilant must be able to penetrate into all areas. As explained above, gases have superior penetration abilities as compared to liquid and vapor agents.
Once your sterilizing agent has distributed to and thoroughly penetrated into all areas, it must remain there long enough to provide the desired level of kill. If it is difficult to get distribution and penetration throughout your target areas as it is for liquids and vapors, then it will also be a challenge to achieve the appropriate concentration and contact time required.