Borrowing from technology used in manufacturing and agriculture, commercial cleaners have adopted electrostatic spraying as a faster and more cost-effective method, says Chris Romagnolo.
02 December 2019 | Chris Romagnolo
How it works
Electrostatic sprayers create a magnetic attraction between the droplets of liquid and the targeted surface, resulting in a more rapid, economical, and effective coating process.
Why it's effective
Faster than traditional tools such as mops and buckets, electrostatic sprayers clean, sanitise or disinfect surfaces while eliminating pathogens.
As positively charged disinfectant droplets exit the nozzle, the magnetic attraction creates a 360° wrap-around effect, thereby covering 100 per cent of surface areas. With a quick pass of the electrostatic device over potentially contaminated surface areas, near total coverage is achieved in minutes rather than hours. Traditional cleaning typically leaves 25 per cent or more of surfaces untouched.
So why wasn't electrostatic disinfection adopted long ago? Only in the past few years have electrostatic spraying technologies become portable, economical and simple enough for FMs and service contractors to consider.
Benefits of electrostatic disinfection
Cost and time saved: Electrostatic spraying technologies decrease labour and costs. The same number of cleaning staff can thoroughly disinfect every surface, even previously hard-to-reach spaces, and cover every square foot of a facility much faster than traditional methods. Users report:
- 80 per cent faster disinfection time and three times the surface coverage per ounce while using 60 per cent less chemicals per square foot.
- Triple output and productivity without increasing staff or budgets, calling it a game changer for cleaning professionals.
Stop viruses spreading: The biggest benefit is preventing the spread of viruses, HAIs, and infectious outbreaks, rather than reactively containing them once the public is ill. Touchless application with electrostatic sprayers delivers faster more complete disinfection, as well as preventing cross-contamination from microfibre towels and the like, which can transfer microbes from one surface to another.
Compliance is another key challenge the cleaning industry faces. Cleaning protocols that are standardised around electrostatic technologies will help to achieve higher-level compliance, cleaner facilities and healthier populations.
Implementing standardised and touchless disinfection processes allows teams to make environmentally preferable choices for cleaning products.
Best practices include limiting chemical variation or, when possible, consolidating cleaning protocols around one broad-spectrum disinfectant that's safer, yet more effective.
Instead of managing multiple chemical use guides and dwell times, one chemistry with one set of directions that applies to every stage of the cleaning process prevents potential incidents of breakdown, increases worker safety, eliminates hazardous chemical exposure, and ensures greater compliance.
Electrostatic disinfection responsibilities
While there are chemicals that are well-suited for electrostatic application, others like quats (quaternary ammonium compounds) are not, owing to potential safety hazards, material incompatibilities or accumulation of sticky residue over time. It is the responsibility of all parties to take this into account.
With any new technology comes the responsibility to implement proper usage guidelines. Processes must be established to ensure safe and effective electrostatic application of chemicals in a manner that protects the public as well as custodial teams.
Outlining well-defined precautions is a responsibility both equipment and chemical manufacturers share.
Sprayer specifications must be aligned with the right chemistry to ensure that protocols are consistent with registered chemical claims and worker safety regulations.
It's also important to remember that electrostatics is not a free pass to blanket the world in more chemicals, but rather to leverage its efficiency to achieve more with less.
Electrostatic technologies are on the brink of transforming the cleaning industry by providing them with a powerful weapon against the growing public health crisis.
Chris Romagnolo is vice-president of EarthSafe Chemical Alternatives