Beyond the Products

Handheld Electrostatic Sprayers: How to Choose and Use Them

Handheld electrostatic sprayers offer a new way to disinfect spaces such as workplaces, schools, and gyms. In these and other large facilities, traditional sanitizing and disinfecting products such as sprays and wipes can be inefficient. Fortunately, electrostatic technology makes it easy to take action and prevent the spread of disease. This guide will help you understand how handheld electrostatic sprayers work, how to choose the one that’s right for your facility, and how to use your device safely.

Features of handheld electrostatic sprayers

Preparing to buy an electrostatic sprayer? In order to choose the product that’s right for your needs, it’s important to understand how sprayers work and what features to look for.

What is an electrostatic sprayer and how does it work?

Electrostatic sprayers are powerful devices used to spray liquids across large areas. The technology originated in the early 1930s and has uses in industries ranging from automotive manufacturing to agriculture. More recently, organizations have turned to electrostatic spray technology to disinfect surfaces and fight diseases such as COVID-19.

Electrostatic sprayers work by charging cleaning chemicals as they pass through the device’s nozzle, which contains an electrode. According to the National Collaborating Centre for Environmental Health, most surfaces have a neutral or negative charge. So applying a positive charge to chemical particles ensures they’re attracted to conductive surfaces. This attraction is stronger than the force of gravity, meaning chemical particles adhere to uneven and hard-to-reach surfaces. There’s less wasted disinfectant, since fewer particles fall to the floor.

In addition, the spray nozzle atomizes cleaning chemicals and disperses them evenly. That makes it quicker and easier to clean large spaces such as waiting rooms, classrooms, and gyms. Achieving the same results by hand would be labor intensive and could result in missed spots.

What features to look for in a handheld electrostatic sprayer

Here’s what to consider when evaluating and choosing an electrostatic sprayer:

  • Spraying power. This can vary by device. Some high-pressure sprayers provide up to 1,000 pounds per square inch of spraying power. Depending on how much coverage you need, these machines could be ideal. Low-flow or flow-pressure devices won’t project cleaning chemicals as far. But for smaller spaces, a less-powerful device may be adequate for your needs.
  • Spray coverage. The design of your electrostatic disinfectant sprayer will determine how many square feet it can cover in a given time frame. Some machines are powerful enough to spray up to 18,000 square feet in an hour. This allows a small cleaning staff to disinfect a large space in a short amount of time.
  • Grounding points. Like any electrically conductive device, sprayers need to be properly grounded. This is a key safety feature all electrostatic sprayers should have. However, different brands may vary when it comes to the number and location of grounding points. Some include a grounding bar located on the sprayer handle. Others offer grounding straps designed to work even when the person operating the sprayer wears personal protective equipment (PPE), such as disposable gloves.
  • Charge effectiveness. Grounding is not just a safety feature; it enables particles to become charged. In other words, adequate grounding is key to maximizing the attraction between electrons and neutrons. This is what allows sprayed particles to adhere to surfaces, achieving what’s called a wrapping effect. Electrostatic sprayers vary when it comes to their effectiveness. An expert in janitorial equipment, such as Spruce Industries, can recommend a sprayer that achieves the amount of charge you need to thoroughly disinfect your facility.
  • Power source. Currently, there are two main types of electrostatic sprayers on the market: battery-powered sprayers and electric-powered sprayers that you plug into an outlet. Each has pros and cons. Electric-powered sprayers have the benefit of a constant power source, and they don’t need recharging. They are also powerful enough to accommodate an air compressor in the sprayer, which ensures consistent application of your cleaning chemicals. Battery-powered sprayers offer greater mobility, since they’re cordless. However, battery power fluctuates, which makes system performance less consistent. And because a power cord helps to ground the device, battery-powered sprayers need to use other grounding points that may be less effective.

Handheld versus backpack sprayers

A handheld electrostatic sprayer looks like a spray gun. It contains a relatively small tank that holds cleaning chemicals. Backpack-style electrostatic sprayers feature a much larger tank that, as the name suggests, operators can wear on their backs.

The sprayer that’s best for you depends on the size of your facility. A handheld sprayer holds less disinfectant and can be tiring to carry for long periods, making it less efficient for large spaces but perfect for small or midsize offices. A backpack sprayer holds more disinfectant and is designed to be worn comfortably for easy transport. So it’s great for bigger jobs—including very large facilities. Finally, while prices can vary, backpack sprayers tend to be more expensive. But they’re worth the cost for facilities that need large-scale coverage.

Cleaning and maintaining electrostatic sprayers

To get the best performance out of your electrostatic sprayer and ensure it has a long life span, it’s critical to keep it clean and well maintained. Follow these steps to clean and store your sprayer after use:

  1. Empty the tank. When you’re ready to clean the sprayer, make sure it is completely empty of cleaning chemicals.
  2. Wash the tank. Use a cleaning solution of hot, soapy water to wash the inside of the tank. You can also use vinegar or calcium lime remover to tackle stubborn deposits.
  3. Clean the sprayer nozzle. Sometimes, sprayer nozzles become clogged. To clean the nozzle, remove it from the machine. (You may need a tool, such as a wrench.) Then, soak it in hot, soapy water for a few minutes.
  4. Spray a full tank of water. After every few days of use, run an entire tank of clean water through your electrostatic sprayer. This removes chemical residue that could build up inside the nozzle.
  5. Store the sprayer properly. Handheld sprayers should be stored with the tank removed. If any chemicals remain, seal the tank tightly with the included lid and keep it in a safe place.
  6. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions. When maintaining your electrostatic handheld sprayer, adhere to the manufacturer’s recommendations. It’s important to follow all instructions for care and maintenance to keep your sprayer in good working order—and to ensure you don’t void the warranty, if applicable.

Safety tips for electrostatic sprayers

Follow our recommendations to ensure your janitorial staff performs electrostatic disinfection safely and effectively:

  • Buy a certified sprayer. Make sure your electrostatic spraying system is certified for electrical safety by a nationally recognized testing laboratory, such as Intertek. Intertek’s ETL Mark is proof of compliance with North American safety standards.
  • Use an electrostatic disinfectant. Not every disinfectant product is suitable for use in an electrostatic sprayer. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions to choose the right disinfectant for your sprayer.
  • Require PPE. Cleaning staff may need to wear different or additional protective equipment, such as safety glasses or goggles, when performing electrostatic cleaning. Always follow US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) guidelines regarding PPE.
  • Only use electrostatic sprayers in an empty facility. Because sprayed chemicals can cause irritation to eyes and skin, you should make sure there’s nobody around when performing electrostatic spray cleaning.
  • Observe the correct dwell time. Dwell time is the amount of time a surface must stay wet in order to kill viruses. This can vary, depending on your device and the chemical you use. Be sure to wait the recommended amount of time before you allow workers or the public back into your facility.

What are OSHA’s safety regulations for using electrostatic sprayers?

OSHA outlines detailed regulations for using sprayers safety. These include using proper ventilation and ensuring staff have PPE, including eye, face, and respiratory protection. Review OSHA’s complete standards before instructing cleaning staff to use electrostatic spraying technology.

Appropriate chemicals to use in electrostatic sprayers

Always check with the equipment manufacturer to determine the right cleaning chemicals for your machine. Some disinfectants that are fine for use with spray bottles or wipes may cause irritation or leave behind a strong odor when used in an electrostatic sprayer. The chemical you choose should have the following characteristics:

  • EPA approved. Choose a disinfectant that’s approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The EPA provides a list of disinfectants that are effective against COVID-19.
  • Tested for use in electrostatic sprayers. Testing ensures that the amount of chemical emitted into the environment meets safety limits.
  • Fragrance free. Because electrostatic sprayers disburse chemicals across large surface areas, a heavily fragranced product can be overpowering.
  • Ready to use. While it’s possible to dilute chemicals for use in sprayers, this comes with the risk of human error. Ready-to-use products are the safer choice.

How does electrostatic spray affect sensitive surfaces and electronics?

Electrostatic spray is safe for office equipment, electronics, and most surfaces. However, it may leave damp residue on paper. Before spraying, make sure to safely store any important documents.

Ask the experts in electrostatic spraying technology

Need some extra guidance to choose an electrostatic spraying system that meets your needs? The cleaning experts at Spruce Industries are happy to answer your questions and recommend the right products for any cleaning job. Get in touch via our email helpline.

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