Beyond the Products

How to Clean a Backpack Sprayer: Extending the Life of Your Cleaning Equipment

Knowing how to clean a backpack sprayer is important for safety, as well as for the integrity of the sprayer. If you use a backpack sprayer to spray disinfectant or cleaning solution as part of workplace hygiene, you might be wondering if you even need to clean it out. After all, the entire inside of the device has only been in contact with disinfectant instead of being coated with something like pesticide residue.

But leaving old disinfectant in the sprayer can cause problems during storage. From time to time, sediments from the cleaning solution may adhere to different parts of the sprayer’s interior workings, leading to clogs. Moreover, if you ever want to use a different disinfectant or cleaning solution, you will need to fully remove the previous solution to avoid potentially harmful chemical reactions.

The following guide will walk you through the ins and outs of how to empty and clean your backpack sprayer, including which products to use and which chemical combinations to avoid.

How to empty a backpack sprayer

Understanding the basics of disinfectant use is important, but so is disinfectant cleanup. It’s best practice to empty your backpack sprayer before cleaning or storing it. Leaving unused disinfectant in the device could damage it over time. The disinfectant itself may also degrade, becoming less effective.

Importance of emptying the sprayer before cleaning

There are two primary reasons why it’s essential to empty the sprayer entirely before cleaning it. First, the disinfectant in the sprayer may react poorly to the cleaning solution you use to clean it out. Removing as much of the liquid as possible before cleaning minimizes any such reactions.

Second, if disinfectant remains in the sprayer when you add the cleaning solution, it will dilute that solution and could result in less effective cleaning. Remember that the goal when cleaning the sprayer is to clear it of any remnants of the disinfectant. You can best do this by removing most of it before you begin cleaning.

Proper emptying of the sprayer

How to go about emptying your sprayer depends upon the type of sprayer. For some devices, you may be able to remove the sprayer tank and pour out the liquid. For others, such as a pump sprayer or manual sprayer, you may need to pump in air and spray out the liquid until you fully drain the tank.

Regardless of the type of sprayer, it’s often a good idea to spray it even after you have emptied the tank to flush out any remaining liquid that might be in the hose or nozzle. Be sure to follow any guidelines regarding the proper disposal or storage of the chemicals in the tank.

Proper storage of the sprayer

If your sprayer has a battery, it’s best to remove it before cleaning or to disconnect it before storage. If it has any electrical components in general, take care not to store it where it might fall into a tub or sink.

You should always keep industrial cleaning devices such as backpack sprayers in a safe place where unauthorized or inexperienced users cannot access them. Store them in a place that does not experience extreme hot or cold temperatures as well. Extreme temperatures may cause parts of the device to wear out more quickly and can also lead to reactions if certain chemical residues remain.

How to clean a backpack sprayer

Once you completely empty your sprayer of the disinfectant, you are ready to begin the cleaning process. While the exact steps required to clean your device may vary by model, the following are basic guidelines.

Important precautions

As you prepare to clean your backpack sprayer, keep in mind the following precautions:

  • Follow all safety precautions pertaining to the disinfectant or cleaning solution in the sprayer, including wearing proper personal protective equipment such as gloves or a mask.
  • If the sprayer has electrical components, like those in an electrostatic sprayer, take care not to submerge those in liquid.
  • Check to ensure any solutions you use to clean the sprayer will not react with any chemicals previously used in it.

Cleaning steps

Clean your sprayer carefully and completely by following these steps:

  1. Turn off all switches and remove the battery.
  2. Add either clean water or a mixture of soap and water to the tank.
  3. Reinstall the battery and turn the power on (if battery operated) or pump/pressurize the tank (if nonelectric).
  4. Spray the water or soap solution through the sprayer until the tank is empty.
  5. Wipe down the outside of the sprayer with soap, water, and a cloth.

If you are cleaning the sprayer out with water only, you may wish to purchase a second tank for cleaning purposes. This way, you ensure that you are only running clean water through the hose and nozzle and not any residual disinfectant. If you use soapy water to clean the sprayer, you may wish to run pure water through it afterward to rinse out any remaining soap.

Dispose of the contaminated rinse as you would any discarded disinfectant solution.

Cleaning the spray nozzle

If the sprayer has different nozzle settings, be sure to switch through each setting as you spray water or soapy water through the system. If the spray nozzle becomes clogged, remove it from the sprayer, soak it in hot soapy water, and blow it out with pressurized air until you remove the blockage.

How to select products for cleaning your backpack sprayer

The great thing about disinfectant sprayers is that cleaning them out doesn’t require much in the way of products, but there are a few worth mentioning.

Commonly used products

When cleaning a backpack sprayer after using it for spraying disinfectant or a cleaning solution, the key is to flush the system and remove all remnants of that solution. Depending upon the type of sprayer, the manufacturer may recommend using only water for this purpose, or you might use a mild soapy water solution.

Soap essentially makes water “wetter”—or thinner and runnier. This can allow it to pick up more debris from the inner workings of the sprayer. Antimicrobial soap can also remove any bacteria that might be hiding in the device.

In some sprayers, however, soap may leave unwanted deposits. Read your sprayer’s manual to determine whether to use plain water or a soapy solution.

Tools that make the process easier

Because cleaning a backpack sprayer is relatively easy, you don’t often need additional tools. That said, you may find the following tools helpful:

  • Microfiber cloth. For wiping the exterior of your sprayer, a microfiber cloth can better trap and hold dirt and debris than a standard rag can.
  • A can of pressurized air. This can help remove debris from nozzle components.
  • A second tank. As previously mentioned, this allows for more thorough flushing of the hose and nozzle.

How to avoid dangerous chemical combinations

The good news is that the water or soapy water you use to clean your sprayer is unlikely to react badly with any chemicals you used previously in it. However, if you use different disinfectants or solutions between cleanings or before and after incomplete cleanings, it can lead to problems. After all, you want the sprayer to kill viruses and bacteria, and not people.

Importance of correct chemical combinations

Mixing chemicals is not the same as mixing inert objects, like mixing pebbles with beads. Instead, mixing chemicals can cause a chemical reaction, in which one or more substances change into something entirely new.

The substance created in a chemical reaction can sometimes be harmful or even deadly. This is why it is vital to know which chemicals you are working with when you are handling cleaning and disinfecting products. Even eco-friendly cleaning can lead to bad chemical combinations.

Combinations to avoid

The following are combinations of common cleaning products you should take care to avoid mixing:

  • Bleach and vinegar. These produce chlorine gas when mixed, which can cause coughing, breathing problems, and eye irritation.
  • Baking soda and vinegar. Mixing these two creates water and sodium acetate. These aren’t terribly harmful on their own, but the reaction also releases a lot of gas, which can cause sealed containers to explode.
  • Bleach and ammonia. This mixture produces highly toxic chloramine gas, which can cause shortness of breath and chest pains.
  • Hydrogen peroxide and vinegar. Combining these creates peracetic acid, which irritates the eyes, skin, and respiratory system.
  • Bleach and rubbing alcohol. These produce chloroform, which depresses the central nervous system and can lead to a coma.

By properly cleaning your sprayer and reading all safety information on any products you use, you can easily avoid these potential hazards.

Where to find cleaning solutions for your business

Backpack sprayers are great tools for disinfecting workspaces, common areas, and high-touch surfaces. Keeping your cleaning equipment clean and storing it properly is important for health and safety, as well as the life span of the equipment itself.

If you’re looking for cleaning equipment or solutions for your business or organization, contact Spruce Industries today for help finding what you need.

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