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August 11, 2021

What is ATP Testing? (And How to Do It)

Today, proper cleaning and disinfection are more critical than ever before as healthcare facilities work to reduce the risk of healthcare-associated infections and other serious diseases. 

So, what if there was a way to know surfaces are clean and safe? That’s where evidence-based testing with ATP comes in.

What is ATP testing, and why do we use it?

Evidence-based testing with adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the energy molecule found in all living cells, is an exact measurement of the cleanliness of a surface.

After its introduction to the food industry years ago, ATP testing has become a vital infection prevention tool for environmental services teams in many healthcare facilities.

Myth: Does ATP testing measure the Colony Forming Units (CFU) on surfaces? No, ATP only measures the organic matter left behind on a surface and doesn't measure bacteria or viruses. It is primarily a tool used to help improve cleaning methodologies.  

How do you complete ATP testing? 

ATP testing is conducted using a Luminometer, a device that measures ATP, and a testing swab. Once an area is cleaned, a swab of a surface is taken. Then, the swab is placed in the Luminometer to measure the ATP level. The reading on the device is measured in Relative Light Units (RLU).


The more organic matter present on a surface will reflect in higher RLUs. So, if a surface was not cleaned effectively it will display a higher RLU reading. 

Why is ATP testing beneficial?

Studies show that implementing evidence-based testing improves cleanliness from 40% to 82%.

ATP provides an objective and quantifiable method to ensure that cleaning procedures are being performed properly. The data can be used to pinpoint areas of needed improvement, like training or cleaning processes.

It has become a valuable tool in validating cleaning procedures, especially in critical patient care areas where cleaning results can’t be compromised. 

When combined with other core systems like cleaning processes and training, it plays a vital role in saving lives.

Tag(s): Healthcare

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