Sanitation Matters

Written by Gay Smith

Don’t turn a blind eye to sanitation procedures. It is no secret that cleanliness makes a huge difference on overall flower performance. Are you adding a splash of bleach to bucket water to prevent bacteria and pollution from plugging stems? Keep in mind that sodium hypochlorite (the type of chlorine in bleach) is rendered inactive as soon as it comes in contact with organic material, any organic material. This means the “biocidal” power of the bleach may be depleted before it even has a chance to sanitize stem ends: it is exhausted attacking the scum and crud on the sides of dirty buckets.

Even used in clean buckets, bleach water loses its “active” power after 4-6 hours. The jug of bleach concentrate sitting in your laundry room becomes “inactive” after six months regardless that you still smell chlorine. The odor only indicates that chlorine molecules are volatizing into the air, but nothing about its germicidal effect.

The take home message for growers, wholesalers and retailers? Always start with clean buckets and clean tools. If you must use bleach to sanitize buckets, scrub with a biodegradable, low-suds detergent first and then dip buckets in a bleach-solution rinse. Add one ounce of bleach to a gallon of water. If you are looking for a better solution than bleach for cleaning, use a quaternary ammonium compound like Chrysal Cleaner. Quat-based cleaners provide lasting power and Chrysal Cleaner is not only skin-friendly, it is biodegradable, too.

Remember: if you wouldn’t drink it or out of it, neither will your flowers!