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Published: November 17, 2021

Q. I’ve been told that we should no longer use isopropyl alcohol (IPA) for cleaning our equipment. What should we use instead?

A. The current need of IPA as a vital disinfectant in the Coronavirus and COVID-19 disease fight, and for general decontamination/disinfection, can make it quite difficult, at times, to obtain in the first place.  This is similarly true for ethanol.

In medical devicehealthcarefood and beveragepharmaceutical, biotech and related cleaning applications, isopropyl alcohol is less than ideal. Alcohol will clean residues which are soluble in alcohol, but that is a limited range.  Using critical cleaning, aqueous detergents are far more robust and will allow for more effective cleaning processes.

Well-built detergents will emulsify a much wider spectrum of active pharmaceutical ingredients, organic residues, botanical extracts, environmental contamination and other residues. Some of which can even shield microbial and viral contaminants.  The type of detergent to choose as a replacement for IPA will depend on whether cleaning will be manual/COP or washer/sprayer/CIP.  The latter would necessitate a low foaming detergent.  Other factors are: is the residue organic or inorganic?  Still other options can include phosphate or phosphate-free, and a preference for a powdered or liquid concentrate.  Having a suite of these detergent combinations allows for any residue, cleaning mechanism, and substrate to be tackled effectively.  Again, using just IPA cannot accomplish this.  A properly cleaned surface can then, and only then, be disinfected / sterilized.

Cost is also often an issue.  While IPA will be used as is, or diluted to ~70% for cleaning, our concentrated detergents are typically used at 1-2% in most application (2-5% considered fro difficult residues such as cannabis and cosmetics).  This of course leads to measurable cost effectiveness.

Finally, vast amounts of IPA to drain may require government or other regulatory licensing depending on your location and municipality.

To request an Alconox Inc. detergent for free, please complete the questionnaire at Get Sample. For more information about any one of our Alconox Inc. detergents, consult the technical bulletin for each product. Or click here to access each of our detergent’s Safety Data Sheets.

Do you have a critical cleaning question for the experts at Alconox Inc.?  Search TechNotes to see if it’s been answered before or Ask Alconox.

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2 responses to “Replacing Isopropyl Alcohol in Cleaning”

  1. Kelly C Brown says:

    Does Liquinox have any % ethanol in it? thank you


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