How do Mechanical-Kill Antimicrobials Work?

How do Mechanical-Kill Antimicrobials Work?

Getting a surface clean and keeping it clean is a challenge in every context, from the household kitchen counter to industrial food processing facilities. Part of the challenge comes from what “clean” really means. Getting rid of visible grime and grease doesn’t address the real concern with surfaces: microorganisms.

Killing microorganisms across a surface isn’t easy. By definition they’re too small to see. In a sense, the person doing the work simply needs to have faith that the antimicrobial products being used are going to reliably kill whatever happens to be on the surface.

Broadly speaking there are two categories of antimicrobial: those that kill with chemicals, and those that kill with mechanical processes. The distinction is important, both in terms of short-term efficacy and long-term consequences.

Chemical-kill antimicrobial solutions are quick fixes with lasting limitations

Chemical-kill antimicrobials use a variety of molecules engineered to be absorbed through the cell wall of a microorganism such as a bacteria or mold spore. Once inside the cell, the chemical rapidly deteriorates the cell wall from within, causing the cell to burst.

Conventional cleaning products  focus on the chemical-kill strategy because it’s relatively cheap. But there are important downsides to the chemical approach:

  • Effective application takes time. Chemical-kill products must remain wet on a surface for a specified period of time before they are completely effective. If an operator doesn’t leave the solution on the surface for its required kill time, microorganisms will survive.
  • Buildup of resistant strains, or “superbugs.” Antimicrobial resistance has become a serious problem for hospitals and other sensitive industries. Resistance can come in a variety of forms as microbe cell populations mutate in their new, chemical-kill environment. The science is complex, but the results are astonishing:
    • Modified cell wall protein structures can render the wall impermeable to the antimicrobial agent.
    • Mutant cells can generate molecules that attach to chemical agents, reducing their effectiveness.
    • Strains can develop capabilities to modify or expel agents after they penetrate the cell wall, but before they can do damage.
  • Toxic residues. The formulation of a chemical-kill product typically includes a mix of ingredients that can be harmful to more than just microbes. Some products rely on short-lived compounds, like alcohol, but these tend to have narrow windows of effectiveness and must be constantly reapplied. Formulas that contain more aggressive materials may cause a buildup over time, further promoting the rise of resistant strains and potentially creating a harmful environment for other forms of life, including people.

Mechanical-kill antimicrobials leave less to chance

Antimicrobial solutions engineered to deliver a mechanical kill are designed to destroy pathogen cells from the outside. By breaching a microbe’s cell wall, a mechanical-kill solution substantially reduces the chance for resistant strains to emerge.

PreventX 24/7™ by NewEraSOS is a great example of a mechanical-kill antimicrobial. It is an EPA-registered biostatic surface protectant, applied as a spray. After bonding to the treated surface, PreventX 24/7™ continues to provide a durable coating for 30 to 90 days, depending on surface use.

PreventX 24/7™ delivers a mechanical kill by microscopic carbon “spikes.” The “spikes” are composed of positively charged molecules coupled with a base that adheres to a wide variety of surfaces. When bacteria, mold, mildew, or fungi come into contact with the spike, it breaches their cell walls, destroying or inactivating them.

A mechanical-kill antimicrobial doesn’t give microbes an opportunity to mount a chemical defense. The punctured cells cease to function. As a consequence, evolution doesn’t have a chance to do its work. The rise of a “superbug” mutation is prevented because the treated surface is inhospitable for just about any microbes.

NewEraSOS is your source for expert advice on antimicrobials

NewEraSOS is a team of scientists dedicated to helping our customers find better ways to reduce bioload at home, in the office, and everywhere in between. We sell products, but we also offer service. Solutions like PreventX 24/7™ are most effective when included in a comprehensive cleaning and prevention program. We’ll work with your team to develop a plan that achieves a new standard of surface protection without putting a drag on the bottom line.

Ready to learn more? Contact NewEraSOS today.