Disinfecting and best practices

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BlackBoar

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Hey everyone!
I've just started to make soap and bath products and am wondering what people do to create hygienic work spaces.

I currently manufacture in the room I sleep in. I have several small tables that are covered in vinyl and plastic.

I disinfect my surfaces with 10 percent bleach water that I leave for a few minutes and then clean up with a white microfiber cloth. Then all my containers and tools are sprayed with 99 percent isopropyl alcohol.

I clean my floor with a microfiber cloth that I mark to keep separate from the rest. I have wood floors.

Before I open any of my ingredients I spray my gloves with isopropyl and then the outside of the container, and then spray a stainless steel spoon to scoop it out. If it's liquid I just pour. I have a "sterile" section where I keep things that are cleaned and don't touch them unless I've sprayed myself with the alcohol. If I cut cocoa butter I will spray the knife.

I've also banned myself from eating in my room (I still have my coffee at my desk), brush my hair in the bathroom instead of my room and am thinking about styling my hair every morning with one of those bun net things (my hair is almost below my butt cheeks).

I'm not going to be making lotions but I am doing emulsified sugar scrubs.

What do you think of my efforts to keep my area clean?
What do you use to clean your surfaces and what do you do to make sure you don't accidentally contaminate your areas?

Additionally, is it ok to use the same mixers and bowls for soap that you use for other products?

Do you use microfiber and how do you use it? With cold water alone or with a disinfectant? How do you clean the rags if you do use them?

How often do you vacuum/mop your space?

Thank you in advance

-SJ
 

snappyllama

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I do not sell, but I try to practice good manufacturing. When making B&B, I do pretty much the same as you: spraying everything with alcohol including all spoons, containers, surfaces and my gloves. I work in my kitchen but make sure everything is put away and as clean as I can get it. I pretty much use entirely separate containers and spoons for B&B. I will use a regular kitchen pot for a double boiler base, but the container that actually touches my recipe is just used for B&B. This is partially because I worry about cross contamination, but mainly I don't want to risk ruining my cookware or good mixer.

I heat and hold. I try my best to ensure that I am using appropriate preservatives and that my formulation doesn't contain anything that would inactivate them. If I ever started selling I'd have my products tested.

I use paper towels instead of rags. With a cat, large dog and long haired girls... there's no way I could guarantee that some hair wouldn't be clinging to a rag. I hate throwing things away like paper towels, but the thought of stray hairs in a lotion....

I keep my hair tied back and use nitrile gloves. I don't use a face mask except when using an ingredient that irritates me like SLSA. I know I should and would if I ever started selling. I'd also go for a hair covering in addition to tying it back.

ETA: I do not go to quite as much trouble with disinfecting my workspace and implements when making CP. Everything is clean, but I figure I can save the alcohol treatment on containers... lye will eat any nasties it finds. :)
 
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IrishLass

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When making soap, I don't go to any trouble beyond what's considered the 'norm'. In other words, I don't use alcohol or any other kind of disinfectants. I just use plain ol' soap & water with a clean cloth to wash my counter and utensils, and I dry off with a clean cotton 'flour-sack' towel. To keep the surface of my counter safe from my soaping ingredients while soaping, I tape down a length of freezer paper (shiny-side up).

All of my stainless steel utensils that I use for soaping are fine pulling double-duty for cooking, but not so any of my silicone or plastic utensils. I have separate silicone and plastic for cooking and for soaping.

I don't sell or anything, but for what it's worth, when I make lotions, it's a different story. I use StarSan (which I keep on hand in a 5-gallon bucket) to sanitize all my lotion-making utensils and containers, and I also keep some StarSan handy in a spray bottle for spot-sanitizing whenever the need arises (I buy StarSan at my local home-brewing supply store)...... then I spray down my counter with alcohol and let air dry before laying down freezer paper (shiny side up), which I then wipe down with some StarSan.

In case you are wondering why I use alcohol directly on my counter instead of the StarSan, it's because my particular counter's surface is not compatible with the uber-acidic nature of StarSan (it does a bit of stripping job on the finish if I'm not careful to wipe any of it off my counter in time).

Also for lotions, I use the heat & hold method, and I always wear either nitrile or latex gloves which I spot sanitize with the StarSan whenever the need arises.

As an aside, I also love using StarSan to sanitize my food containers right before putting any food in them that I'll be storing away in the fridge for any length of time. The food lasts so much longer when I do so. Take my homemade clotted cream for example: if I sanitize my storage jar with StarSan first, my clotted cream stays fresh and lovely beyond 4 to 6 weeks instead of just one week.


IrishLass :)
 

The Efficacious Gentleman

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Blackboar, please bear in mind that if you are doing all this because you sell, business questions are not allowed in this section.
 

cmzaha

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You really cannot create a sterile area, but you can sanitize. It simply is not possible to sterilize. If you have an autoclave you could sterilize your utensils but that is all. Some can certainly correct me if I am wrong. I Barbicide, which is a Germicide, Pseudomonacide, Fungicide and Virucide to spray my work surfaces. My counters are tile so I cover and work on hdpe cutting boards which I can sanitize. Grouting in tile cannot be properly sanitized. I also have a spray bottle of 91% Isopropyl Alcohol to spray my utensils periodically. This is when I make lotions. For soap I just cover my counter and use my hdpe boards.
 

Steve85569

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I don't go to great lengths to create a completely sterile environ for soaping in. I just maintain an area clean enough to cook and eat in. I also have devoted equipment for soap making so I do not need to worry about contaminating foodware.
 

snappyllama

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You really cannot create a sterile area, but you can sanitize. It simply is not possible to sterilize. If you have an autoclave you could sterilize your utensils but that is all. Some can certainly correct me if I am wrong. I Barbicide, which is a Germicide, Pseudomonacide, Fungicide and Virucide to spray my work surfaces. My counters are tile so I cover and work on hdpe cutting boards which I can sanitize. Grouting in tile cannot be properly sanitized. I also have a spray bottle of 91% Isopropyl Alcohol to spray my utensils periodically. This is when I make lotions. For soap I just cover my counter and use my hdpe boards.
Now I'm thinking I ought to get some barbicide. Is it acidic? I have countertops I worry about...
 

LoveOscar

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I'm with Steve85569. I keep a totally separate set of ware and utensils that does not get shared across food making or eating. At best, they get double washed (before use and after use) with antibacterial dish soap. I keep my work area (kitchen island) clean enough to eat and prep food on. I have a German Shedding Dog, and hair gets everywhere. My finished soap sits on a rack above a set of rigged computer fans next to some plants, where I generally try to keep the dog away from (because, hair, everywhere).

I don't go beyond much effort than that, as I am not selling, and usually just give away my soaps to friends for feedback.
 

earlene

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I have a "sterile" section where I keep things that are cleaned and don't touch them unless I've sprayed myself with the alcohol. If I cut cocoa butter I will spray the knife.

-SJ
BlackBoar, what you describe here is not sterile. It is clean, maybe even disinfected, but certainly not sterile. Even in a hospital operating room, the only area considered sterile is the 'sterile field' and it doesn't necessarily remain that way once surgery starts. The purpose of maintaining the sterile field in surgery is so as to prevent the introduction of contaminants to an open surgical area.

I get that that is what you are attempting to do, prevent introducing contaminants. Kudos for that. Anyway, what you are describing is a 'clean area'. It's good to have a clean area (where you only put the clean and disinfected things) and a dirty area (where the used or contaminated items go when you are done with them). In Nursing school (I am a retired nurse) I learned this concept and have carried it through in my home life, too. Then after retiring from my career as a nurse, we started a restaurant (for my son, really, but we all were involved) and it served me well in that business as well.

In soaping as a hobby (and for me that is all it will ever be, as I do not want to go into business ever again) I still utilize the 'Clean' and 'Dirty' method. Disinfecting is a lot more important with the Bath & Body cosmetic-type things, so when I make my granddaughter's facial cleanser (to help with acne), I do clean everything with alcohol after hot soapy water wash & before using. But that is still not sterile.

Normal cleaning of my work area and utensils and tools is what I do for my soaping. Avoiding cross contamination of materials is second nature to me, but that's probably from the nurse's training. It certainly would be important if I were ever to want to do this as a business, of course, but even for my own personal use and to gift to friends and family it is still important.

How often do you mop? That is an interesting question. I used to mop my kitchen floor every day. (That's were I soap.) Sometimes I only mop up the area where I work, such as to mop up minor bits that inadvertently fall to the floor, that's usually after any time I soap.

As for my work surface, I use a work table in my kitchen (which I use for other things as well as soaping) and it is covered with an oilcloth table cloth. Then on top of that, I place old towels to catch messes. I usually wash the surface covering towels after each use. It makes cleaning up drops of soap batter or errant crystals of lye or whatnot very easy that way. So I use fresh clean towels as a work surface covering whenever I work at my work table. I clean the oilcloth table cloth with sprayed vinegar as needed. I don't use heavy duty or antibacterial cleansers normally.

Oh, and I keep my scale covered in plastic wrap to protect it from those pesky static-y lye crystals and errant drop of EO/FO from damaging its pretty surface. I wipe the plastic-wrap-covered scale with vinegar after each soaping session, too.

Additionally, is it ok to use the same mixers and bowls for soap that you use for other products?
-SJ
I do not use my lye solution container for anything other than lye solution. That is an absolute.

As for mixing bath and body products such as scrubs or bath bombs (for myself or my granddaughter), I am fine mixing those in the same bowls as I mix my soap as long as they are very clean to start with.
 

likeablelady

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I do not sell, but I try to practice good manufacturing. When making B&B, I do pretty much the same as you: spraying everything with alcohol including all spoons, containers, surfaces and my gloves. I work in my kitchen but make sure everything is put away and as clean as I can get it. I pretty much use entirely separate containers and spoons for B&B. I will use a regular kitchen pot for a double boiler base, but the container that actually touches my recipe is just used for B&B. This is partially because I worry about cross contamination, but mainly I don't want to risk ruining my cookware or good mixer.

I heat and hold. I try my best to ensure that I am using appropriate preservatives and that my formulation doesn't contain anything that would inactivate them. If I ever started selling I'd have my products tested.

I use paper towels instead of rags. With a cat, large dog and long haired girls... there's no way I could guarantee that some hair wouldn't be clinging to a rag. I hate throwing things away like paper towels, but the thought of stray hairs in a lotion....

I keep my hair tied back and use nitrile gloves. I don't use a face mask except when using an ingredient that irritates me like SLSA. I know I should and would if I ever started selling. I'd also go for a hair covering in addition to tying it back.

ETA: I do not go to quite as much trouble with disinfecting my workspace and implements when making CP. Everything is clean, but I figure I can save the alcohol treatment on containers... lye will eat any nasties it finds. :)
I know I should know this, but what is B&B?
 

BlackBoar

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Fantastic responses, thank you everyone.
I've just labeled my bowls to keep BB and soap stuff separate.
Do you ever use CP silicone molds for MP soap after? I just cut a CP soap with a stainless steel knife from the kitchen. I won't do that again. I'm even paranoid about putting the soap stuff to dry where I dry my normal dishes.
 

earlene

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BlackBoar, to clarify and earlier statement I made. I do NOT mix my granddaughter's facial cleanser in the same bowls as my soaping batters get mixed in. It's made of all edible items, so I mix it in a glass measuring bowl which I normally use to prepare food. I just wanted to clarify that, because, Ugh, that would gross me out just to think of it.

Your stainless steel knife should be fine. But I do understand. I commandeered my MIL's kitchen knives set when she moved into the nursing home and it now sits near my worktable. I have not used these knives for anything but my soaping since they came into the house.

I think some of these things are more about the 'Ick Factor' than anything else.
 
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BlackBoar

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It is the fact that it's used on the face that makes it different? I'm using a little dipper thing that came with my larger crock pot for melting my oils for the small batches and I was planning on using that for food too. I don't see the harm in melting cocoa and shea butter in it and then using it for oatmeal unless I'm missing something.
 

earlene

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I do NOT mix my granddaughter's facial cleanser in the same bowls as my soaping batters get mixed in.
It is the fact that it's used on the face that makes it different?
Yes, basically. But also because I don't use glass for making soap, and I can use glass for making the facial cleansing powder. Remember it is made from all dried edible items, and it is a powder, not a liquid. Glass doesn't retain odors like plastic does, which is what I use with my soaps, other than the ceramic crock pot. The crock pot is way too large and not at all convenient for making the small batches of powdered facial cleanser anyway. Besides that, I am pretty sure her mom would be grossed out if she thought I was making it in a container I used for soap making anyway.

I'm using a little dipper thing that came with my larger crock pot for melting my oils for the small batches and I was planning on using that for food too. I don't see the harm in melting cocoa and shea butter in it and then using it for oatmeal unless I'm missing something.
I am assuming that is ceramic, and you don't mention using a lye solution in it, so it seems it should be safe. But are the cocoa butter and the shea butter edible items? (I don't know, I've never looked into it.) And do you add any essential oils into that mix of oils? Are there any micro-scratches in the ceramic liner? I probably wouldn't use it for cooking if that were the case. Just to be on the safe side, I probably wouldn't use it for food preparation at all anyway. I'd rather err on the side of overly cautious than mistakenly contaminate my food because I can't find a definitive scientific answer to my question.
 

Barbsbreakingbath

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Cleaning

I've been making lotions, ans sugar scrubs, bath bombs for a while. I'd be really careful with anything that goes on the face, and especially anywhere near the eyes. If an infection is going to happen, that's the most likely place. I label all my lotion "hand and body" because the person you give it to could give it to someone else
What you are trying to do is not sterilize, but sanitize, so that your preservative has the best chance to work, with as clean a slate as possible.when I'm making lotions, sugar scrubs, etc, I use stainless steel everything, because it's just a easier to keep clean, and I can reuse them. Because I have granite counters, I lay down 3 or 4 stainless steel cookie sheets from fox run. That way, I only need to worry about the cookie sheets. Aluminum reacts with lye, soap batter, and some fragrance oils.
If you are worried about beasties, there are labs that will test your product for very reasonable prices. Sage Script is just one. Lotion crafters sells do it yourself kits for about 4.00 each, they might be good if you want to see how you are doing.
Pet hair is always a challenge- it gets EVERYWHERE. I wear a clean shirt that I brush down, a clean apron, a lab coat, a hair net, and gloves. Just paranoid, I guess.
Also, this site has a separate Band B section with some great information. If you haven't already, you might want to visit SwiftCraftyMonkey's site. She has a tremendous amount of information about lotions, the properties of different oils and additives, and, yes, best practices.
 
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