Five Tips for Using ATP Meters to Measure Cleaning Performance

The Safety First Credit from the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Rating System recommends using adenosine triphosphate (ATP) meters to measure cleaning performance. 

As many cleaning professionals know, ATP is an energy molecule found in all plants, animals and microbial cells. All organic matter, living or not living, contains ATP. This includes bacteria, mold and microorganisms.

What is most important for us to know is that the detection of ATP on a surface indicates the presence of biological matter. In the cleaning world, this is a “red light” that potentially health-risking pathogens are on a surface. 

While ATP monitors are one of the most reliable indicators we have to measure cleaning performance, to take advantage of this technology, we need to ensure our [surface] sampling skills are up to par.

To ensure they are, consider the following five tips:

  1. Soil distribution on a surface can vary. If there are concerns about the health of a surface, conduct several tests in the same general location.
  2. Assess a surface area of a minimum of about 4 inches by 4 inches.
  3. After swabbing a surface, place the swab in the luminometer that comes with the system, gently shake it from side to side for a few seconds, and close the lid within one minute.
  4. The ATP monitor will report the amount of contamination on a surface. A high reading, indicating a large amount of ATP, means the surface must be cleaned or recleaned; a low rating indicates the surface has been adequately cleaned or does not need further cleaning.
  5. Proper training is mandatory and often works best when several cleaning workers are taught simultaneously. In a group, they may raise questions that others are also wondering about. 

Additionally, an effective ATP monitoring program requires first identifying areas in a facility that need to be regularly evaluated. Bring in a [jansan] distributor to help with this. Their fresh eyes will uncover test areas that everyday facility users may overlook.

About the Author

Stephen P. Ashkin
Stephen P. Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, a consulting firm specializing in greening the cleaning industry. He also is CEO of Sustainability Dashboard Tools, which helps facilities monitor and measure their use of natural resources. He is known as the “father of green cleaning” and the professional cleaning industries leading advocate promoting sustainability. He is coauthor of The Business of Green Cleaning and Green Cleaning for Dummies.

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