What Disinfectants should I use?
In choosing disinfectants for use, growers must consider several factors. Location of use around the crop should be the first consideration. For cleaning harvesting equipment or anything inside the mushroom house, disinfectants should be registered for FCS. If a chemical is not registered for FCS, then the extra step of rinsing with potable water is required. The surface that is to be disinfected is important, since some chemicals cannot be applied to nonporous surfaces, such as bedboards, trays or wooden walkways.
Cost is an important factor and the grower must think of not just the cost per gallon, but cost per working solution. If it takes twice as much chemical to achieve the effective concentration for the working solution, the concentrate should not cost twice as much as another chemical that requires less quantity to achieve the effective working solution.
Effectiveness is always the grower’s main concern. Data for the relative effectiveness of all the disinfectants is not readily available. Results reported are often from tests in a petri dish, not under cropping conditions. Most growers and scientist realize that what works in a petri dish does not always work in real life. Part of that difference is that all disinfectants lose their effectiveness as the organic matter load increases. That is why effectiveness is related to cleanliness.
Corrosiveness of the chemical is also a consideration when sanitizing equipment. Several disinfectants are very effective, but continuous use will cause damage to metal or moving parts. A thorough rinsing of the equipment is necessary and of course that extra step is an additional cost. The cleaning and disinfecting of HVAC equipment is often dependent on how corrosive disinfectants are and whether they leave a residual that could possibly dry and then be dissipated into a room. Therefore, to be safe and avoid any possible migration of chemicals into the room, it is best to use a FCS chemical or soap and water that would not be a food safety concern.
Water quality is generally not a concern, except for some of the chlorine products. Chlorine is only effective at a pH of less than 7.0. Therefore, to achieve an effective disinfecting with chlorine, the pH of the water has to be adjusted, adding an additional cost to the use of these products.