Best Practices for Cleaning, Disinfecting, and Sanitizing a Cannabis Grow Room

Posted by Berman on Jan 25, 2021 12:09:37 PM

The cannabis industry was one of the clear winners of the 2020 elections as voters in five states voted to legalize marijuana in some form. New Jersey, Arizona, and Montana legalized recreational use, and medical marijuana will be permitted in Mississippi. South Dakota took the unprecedented step of legalizing medical cannabis and marijuana for recreational use at the same time. 


Now, fifteen states have legalized recreational marijuana use, and 34 states allow medical marijuana. This is a significant change when you consider no state allowed recreational marijuana ten years ago. 


The cannabis industry is growing fast. Yet, there are still some GMP challenges that may no longer be in other verticals that have been in existence much longer and have more defined regulatory requirements.


This blog post will discuss the importance of cleaning, sanitizing, and disinfecting a grow room in a cultivation facility. We will also explain why there are inherent challenges mitigating molds, pathogens, fungus, invading insects, and other hazards that could affect the health and safety of employees, customers, and the plants themselves.


You’re going to read this a lot in our blog posts, but proactive preventative measures are the best strategy to maintain a clean and safe environment.

The best growing conditions are perfect for disease and pests as well


When does your grass, flowers, and other plants grow the fastest? In the spring and summer months, the temperatures are warmer, and there’s more air moisture. Grow rooms are always in spring and summer conditions to ensure cannabis plants can grow at optimal levels. 


Of course, other things, like molds, enjoy these conditions, which means cultivation facilities need to take a proactive approach to eliminate contaminants that could affect the cannabis plants and the employees and customers who come into contact with them.


Additionally, these facilities have employees coming in and out of the grow room to manage the plants and perform other related tasks, which increases the risk for cross-contamination.

Did you know?

A study published on May 13th by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) revealed that cannabis users were more than 3.5 times more likely to develop a fungal infection than non-cannabis users. Researchers believe this is due to mold that has infected cannabis flowers, which are later smoked or vaped. Cultivation facilities must do more to prevent mold outbreaks in their grow rooms. 


What can cultivation facilities do in response to prevent disease and pest infestation in grow rooms?


“The widespread adoption of best practices is in direct contrast to today’s use of less rigorous reactive disinfection methods which is nothing more than a ‘proxy of convenience.’” Christian Castiglione, CEO of EcoBuds, for


Consider a commercial kitchen in a restaurant or a hotel. The foodservice industry is highly regulated to prevent foodborne illnesses, which can be deadly in some cases. If there is a complaint or violations are discovered during an inspection, the kitchen could be heavily fined or shut down. 


To achieve compliance and ensure any foodborne pathogens are killed, staff must clean kitchens daily and perform a deep cleaning at least once a week in most cases where everything is sanitized from top to bottom. Restaurants and hotels cannot afford to be reactive when it comes to sanitation. 


The same holds for cultivation facilities. An outbreak could harm employees or customers, and growers risk being fined or losing valuable product that has been damaged. Being reactive to sanitation issues simply isn’t possible. Like a commercial kitchen, staff must clean and disinfect the grow room daily and perform deep disinfections regularly to ensure any pathogens are killed. 


For the latter, professional disinfecting services may be the best option to protect the plants and increase yield as their sanitation experts can help a cultivation facility develop a comprehensive disinfection program that is safe and effective. They can also identify long-term integrated pest management (IPM) strategies that prevent pest infestations without harming people who may go in and out of the grow room.


Daily cleaning, disinfection, and sanitation best practices


We recommend keeping a regular schedule for cleaning and inspection, so everyone is on the same page, and there are standard operating procedures (SOPs) for staff to follow. Everyone should be trained on all cleaning and disinfecting methods necessary to eliminate threats. Here are some things cultivation facilities should consider when developing a schedule and disinfection program:


  • Regularly clean all spaces of fallen leaves, soil, excess pooling of water, and other debris. This can be done with a simple Shop-Vac that has a HEPA filter. Pests and fungus thrive with these elements present, so they must be removed daily and not just between harvests. 


  • Leave harmful threats at the door by mandating that all employees wear the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and installing an entranceway foot sanitizer loaded with an EPA-registered disinfectant that kills any pathogens on shoe bottoms. 


  • Use EPA-registered disinfectants on all surfaces, tools, and equipment to disinfect and sanitize areas after they are cleaned of any leaves and other debris. If there is a spill or organic matter on any surface, it’s essential to do a spot clean as soon as possible to mitigate any contamination. Deep sanitation treatments should be performed regularly to prevent outbreaks and catch areas not cleaned or disinfected during daily cleanings. 


  • Set up spore traps throughout the space to identify what kinds of fungus may be present in your grow room after they are lab-tested. This will determine what disinfectant and sanitation protocols to include in the program. Some experts recommend investing in airborne disease detection systems to proactively monitor levels to prevent overload and adapt protocols if necessary.


The case for investing in professional facility management services


Two issues could impact the ability of cultivation facilities to complete cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitation in-house. 


  1. Cultivation facilities typically run lean, and workforces may be responsible for various tasks in and out of the grow room. They may have higher-order priorities that they are focusing on, and, let’s face it, cleaning and disinfecting are not the most exciting parts of the job. It is easy to see how they might miss a potential hazard or forget to complete a task when they are responsible for so many aspects of operations.


  1. The turnover rate in the cannabis industry is as high as 60% within the first two months. This means new people are continually being trained, which may affect sanitation standards and potentially increase the risk of human error and injury. There simply isn’t the expertise available if the staff is frequently turning over.


Investing in professional facility management services addresses these challenges because they put disinfection and sanitation in the hands of experts who can create a tailored solution that meets the individual client’s requirements based on the space, equipment, growing conditions, staffing, and budget. 


An experienced vendor can recommend specific EPA-approved disinfectants, air quality systems, and other products and equipment that will prevent outbreaks and ensure a safe and clean environment as free as possible from molds, pests, and diseases. They can also help growers create a program with short-term and long-term cleaning, disinfection, and sanitation protocols.



Berman has become a Facility Management specialist in the legal cannabis sector, providing services to legal cannabis cultivators nationally.


If you are looking for a vendor who you can depend on to keep your facilities clean and safe for your staff and customers, Berman offers custom solutions for daily, weekly, or monthly treatments.


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