Chemical indicators for testing soil samples have been in the market for many years. Because of the intricate science of biology and chemistry that is involved in understanding and developing monitoring systems for test soils, standards have not made it mandatory for indicators to be used for monitoring purposes for washer disinfection or ultrasonic water-baths within sterilisation and cleaning processes.
As the AFOIL test is a monitoring test for efficacy of mechanical force, similarly, cleaning indicators have been developed to measure, not just the efficacy of the mechanical force inside these machines, but also the efficacy of the detergents used.
The problem with most cleaning indicators on the market, is they are specifically protein based. Because of this, the surface of the indicator is easily washed off during the process. Many large washers have several cycles, sometimes up to 8 cycles. Most protein indicator cards are found to wash off during cycle 1 or 2 (check manufacturers instructions as wash cycles may differ on different washer machines), which does not indicate efficacy of the washer or ultrasonic, because there is little knowledge of what is happening in the latter process cycles.
A synthetic based substance on the wash indicator card is required to achieve accurate results in the washing validation process . There are few manufacturers in the world who produce these types indicators that have been manufactured to international standard ISO15883, the standard for test soils and batch washer validation. Neither the Australian Standards or regulatory guidelines have made this mandatory as of yet for office based practices, however there have been discussions of amendments within Australian Standards and ADA Guidelines due to the increasing number of failed helix tests in the sterility process which have directly resulted from poor monitoring procedures within the cleaning process.