Is it OK to soak gauze in disinfectant or does disinfectant break down gauze to where the disinfectant is left ineffective?
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Organization for Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP) don’t recommend pre-soaking gauze in disinfectant. Cotton fibers in gauze can absorb and actually inactivate ingredients in disinfectants leaving them less effective or ineffective altogether.1,2 In a study cited by the CDC, pre-soaking gauze showed a decline in effectiveness of 40 to 50 percent after only one hour of soaking in a quaternary ammonium disinfectant.1
Another study cited by the CDC shows gram-negative bacteria can survive and even grow when other disinfectants (phenolics, iodophors) are pre-soaked in gauze.1 OSAP says if you are going to use gauze with disinfectant, it should be saturated with the disinfecting agent at the time of use.3 They state this is “acceptable.”3 To be perfectly clear, these recommendations pertain to soaking gauze; not to pre-soaked, ready-to-use disinfecting wipes in the original manufacturer’s container. We should always remember to use products according to the manufacturer’s instructions. So if the instructions don’t mention that the product can be soaked in gauze, then it shouldn’t be done.
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- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guideline for Disinfection and Sterilization in Healthcare Facilities – 2008. Updated: September 18, 2016. Retrieved from: https://www.cdc.gov/infectioncontrol/guidelines/disinfection/disinfection-methods/chemical.html
- Kohn, W.G., Collins, A.S., Cleveland, J.L., Harte, J.A., Eklunt, K.J., Malvitz, D.M. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidelines for Infection Control in Dental Health-Care Settings – 2003. MMWR 2003; 52 (Report No. 17). Retrieved from https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/rr5217a1.htm
- Organization for Asepsis and Prevention (OSAP). Frequently Asked Questions on Dental Infection Control. Retrieved from http://www.osap.org/?FAQ_Instrum_Disinf1#ireadrecently