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What is Electrostatic Cleaning? How This Effective Technology Can Improve Your Workplace Sanitation

If you’ve come across the term recently, you might be wondering, just what is electrostatic cleaning? Keeping a clean and sanitary workplace not only improves impressions of your business but also shows customers and employees alike that you value their health and well-being. Proper disinfecting routines have become even more important recently during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Choosing the right solutions for your business can be challenging. The multitude of cleaning methods and products on the market can make anyone’s head spin. This article outlines a modern surface cleaning solution that can save your company time and money while improving your cleaning strategy’s effectiveness.

How electrostatic cleaning works

The “electrostatic” part of electrostatic cleaning describes the mechanism that applies the cleaning solution to a surface. The cleaning solution itself does the cleaning or disinfecting. However, this innovative method of applying the cleaning solution to surfaces enables more complete and even coverage without waste.

Electrostatic force

If you have ever rubbed a balloon on a wool sweater and stuck it to the wall, used cling wrap to wrap a dish, or had all of your clothes stick together out of the dryer after you forgot to use fabric softener, then you have witnessed the power of electrostatic force.

Electrostatic force is the force between charged objects. All objects contain positive and negative charges, but usually in equal numbers, so the net effect is neutral. However, when there is an imbalance, objects with like charges repel each other while those with opposite charges attract.

Electrostatic spray technology

An electrostatic sprayer disperses the liquid cleaner into a fine mist before it passes through electrodes, which impart a net charge on the mist particles. This net charge causes the particles to keep an equal distance from each other due to electrostatic repulsion.

The charge on the mist particles also causes them to become electrostatically attracted to any surface they contact. Though surfaces are usually neutrally charged because they contain an equal number of positive and negative charges, the mist particles’ charge causes a redistribution of surface charges, leading to attraction due to an induced dipole effect. (This is the same reason a charged balloon sticks to a neutrally charged wall.)

In fact, the attractive electrostatic force even causes these mist particles to wrap around surfaces, which makes it possible to achieve 360-degree coverage while only spraying from one direction. And the mist particles themselves also tend to evenly distribute across the surface due to the repulsive force between them, allowing for even coverage without waste.

The benefits of electrostatic cleaning

Applying a cleaning solution with an electrostatic sprayer makes it easier for that cleaning solution to do its job. The solution can only disinfect what it comes in contact with. The sprayer enables it to come in contact with far more surfaces and to adhere to those surfaces evenly. The benefits of electrostatic disinfection, therefore, include the following:

  • It reduces the time it takes to clean due to the mist particles’ ability to wrap around, covering hard-to-reach places with a unidirectional spray.
  • It prevents hazardous overuse of cleaning chemicals since coverage is uniform.
  • It reduces the amount of cleaning solution needed since the mist particles always adhere instead of falling to the floor. This can save on overall costs.
  • It disinfects more thoroughly than other application methods, reducing the transmission of viruses and bacteria.

Reasons businesses should consider electrostatic cleaning

Any businesses with high traffic areas, difficult-to-reach surfaces, or frequently touched equipment used by many different people can benefit from electrostatic cleaning and disinfecting. By cleaning these areas and surfaces electrostatically, you can decrease illness while simultaneously reducing the total time required for cleaning.

Electrostatic disinfecting might prove especially beneficial to prevent the spread of pathogens in the following places:

  • Large office complexes
  • Schools and universities
  • Medical facilities
  • Fitness centers
  • Kitchens and restaurants
  • Travel hubs
  • Religious and community centers
  • Industrial settings

Why electrostatic disinfecting is effective

The fact that electrostatic disinfecting provides better coverage of surfaces ultimately makes it more effective than traditional cleaning methods.

What contributes to the effectiveness

Two parts contribute to the effectiveness of electrostatic disinfecting: the electrostatic delivery mechanism and the disinfectant solution. The electrostatic mechanism enables thorough and uniform coverage of all surfaces. This makes cleaning not only easier and faster but also more complete, hence more effective.

The other piece of the picture, however, depends on the cleaning solution itself and how disinfectants work. The solution must be effective at killing germs on contact. Later in this article, you will learn how to choose the right cleaning solution to disinfect indoor spaces.

How electrostatic disinfecting compares to traditional methods

Traditional methods may include spraying uncharged mist onto surfaces. Without the electrostatic charge, much of that mist may fall away from surfaces before it can disinfect. Users must also spray from multiple angles to achieve full coverage of more complex surfaces.

Spraying a traditional disinfectant often requires wiping afterward to mop up excess and to spread the disinfectant into corners and hard-to-reach places. This takes considerably more time and effort.

What the science says about electrostatic disinfecting and infection control

A recent study published in the American Journal of Infection Control examined the effectiveness of electrostatic spray technology for rapid decontamination of portable equipment and large open areas.

Researchers used the spray on wheelchairs, portable equipment, and waiting room furniture, which are all frequently contaminated with pathogens. They performed minimal precleaning to remove visible soil, then applied a diluted sodium hypochlorite disinfectant (bleach) with an electrostatic sprayer. The result was rapid and effective decontamination.

How to select an electrostatic cleaning product

If you would like to add electrostatic cleaning to your janitorial routine or improve sanitation and health, you will need to select appropriate cleaning products to get the job done right.

Required equipment

Electrostatic cleaning requires two key components: an electrostatic sprayer and a cleaning solution. How well this method works depends on the quality and effectiveness of each component.

If the sprayer fails to create small enough mist particles or properly charge them, this eliminates the benefits of this delivery method. And if the cleaning solution is not effective against the pathogens you hope to eliminate, the delivery method becomes irrelevant.

Different types of sprayers

Sprayers can differ significantly in quality and features, including flow rates, power, range, and tank capacities. If you are looking to cover a smaller office or facility, you might choose a handheld sprayer. For larger facilities, a backpack sprayer might be a better option.

The right cleaning solution

When it comes to cleaning products, you want to choose something approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) as effective against whichever pathogens you are hoping to eliminate. In general, you can use any effective cleaning solution or any disinfectant in liquid form, and indeed many are available.

A small caveat comes with using cleaning solutions in electrostatic sprayers, however. The EPA must approve each manufacturer’s chemical before it can be EPA registered as a disinfectant. But if the EPA didn’t use an electrostatic sprayer when testing, the manufacturer cannot claim its disinfectant works through the sprayer.

However, nothing in the sprayer’s technology appears to suggest that this delivery method might negatively impact a cleaning product’s efficacy. The EPA is currently expediting electrostatic spray testing of products intended for use against SARS-CoV-2, the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

You can always check the EPA website to see if it has deemed a particular disinfectant effective. For example, the EPA has compiled a list of all disinfectants effective against the novel coronavirus that is easily searchable.

How to perform electrostatic cleaning

Cleaning with an electrostatic disinfection sprayer is relatively straightforward. To properly disinfect your facility, the key is to cover each entire area. However, you don’t have to worry about getting around corners and into nooks due to the device’s nature. This often makes cleaning take considerably less time overall.

The preparation

It is best to electrostatically apply disinfectant as the final step in the cleaning process. By first removing surface dirt, you ensure that the cleaning solution will adhere directly to the sprayed objects and won’t miss spots covered by debris.

So remember to perform preliminary cleaning first by wiping down surfaces, dusting, sweeping, or vacuuming. Then you can apply the spray and leave it to dry, which typically only takes minutes.

Different types of surfaces

Electrostatic spraying is effective on all types of surfaces, including fabrics, tables, and even electronic devices such as computer keyboards. The nature of the delivery mechanism allows the cleaning solution to adhere to everything in a thin layer. This prevents objects from becoming too saturated with cleaning solution.

You should, however, take care not to damage any sprayed surfaces with the disinfectant itself. Refer to precautions on the disinfectant’s label to see if you should avoid certain surfaces or textiles.

Things to remember about electrostatic sprayers

The following are important things to remember when using an electrostatic sprayer:

  • Don’t wipe the spray away: The sprayer should apply a thin layer of cleaning solution to all surfaces sprayed. Those surfaces will be slightly damp as a result. This is important for the cleaning solution to work, and you should not wipe it off right away. Disinfectants must remain on surfaces for a few minutes to kill any germs that may be there.
  • Don’t worry about residue: Because the layer is thin, it should leave behind minimal (if any) residue. You do not usually need to wipe surfaces after the disinfectant dries.
  • Take care when spraying around electronics: While it is safe to use electrostatic spraying to disinfect electronic equipment—provided you have chosen a disinfectant that is safe for these surfaces—it is important not to spray at too close a range.
  • Put away any important papers before spraying: The spray can dampen papers and leave them damaged.
  • Be aware of any safety precautions: The individual applying the spray should take all precautions associated with the cleaning solution or disinfectant of choice and wear appropriate safety gear if needed.
  • Know that disinfection is always temporary: Electrostatic disinfecting does not create a protective barrier or offer long-lasting sanitation. Just as with any other disinfectant application, it eliminates pathogens when applied, and sanitation lasts until people touch the surfaces again.

Find electrostatic spray cleaning equipment at Spruce Industries

The goal of Spruce Industries is to provide businesses with the highest-level solutions for janitorial and cleaning needs. Since 1965 Spruce has been helping managers achieve cleaning excellence regardless of facility size. If you’re ready to start shopping for electrostatic sprayers and cleaning solutions, contact Spruce Industries today to learn more.

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