Electrostatic sprayers: What are they, and why are they the best for sanitizing almost any surface?

disinfecting school lockers

Every industry faces unique challenges to sanitization, defined by how people move through their facilities as well as the surfaces and materials their people interact with. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, sanitizing has become even more essential, without getting any easier to execute.

An efficient and cost-effective sanitizing solution can be the difference between success and failure in a COVID-19 world. Electrostatic sprayers are an increasingly popular option. They are fast, versatile and easy to operate. Better yet they save on chemical costs while thoroughly and evenly coating almost any surface.

You may have been mulling over electrostatic technology for some time. Perhaps you’re wondering if the initial investment can truly pay off in the long run. Or you may have lingering questions about how they work, their safety and what products they can be used with. We’ve put together a detailed summary of these impressive devices, what they do, and why they’re such an effective solution for sanitizing.

When were electrostatic sprayers invented?

Powered spraying technology has a long history. Much of the early innovation came as people were looking for ways to paint large surfaces more efficiently and effectively in the late 1800s[1].

Electrostatic sprayers, specifically, actually go back pretty far as well. They were first patented in 1941 by the American inventor Harold Ransburg. Their creator wanted to paint things more efficiently. Other industries began to adopt the technology as well, including agriculture.

The EPA has been researching the effectiveness of the technology with sanitizing chemicals for several years, but it wasn’t until the arrival of a global pandemic that this use case truly took off.

What is electrostatic cleaning?

The ‘electro’ portion of electrostatic cleaning refers to the positive electrical charge that an electrostatic sprayer gives to the liquid droplets.

Generally speaking, a charged metal ring at the nozzle of the sprayer passes a positive electrical charge down through the pump and into the canister containing the liquid chemicals. Then, as the pump is activated and the chemicals move up and through the nozzle, the same ring again imparts a positive charge right before the liquid becomes atomized.

Why does a positive charge matter?

Most of the earth is either negatively charged or electrically neutral. Neutral means positive and negative charges are in balance. By giving the droplets a positive charge, they naturally seek out negative charges across the surface they are sprayed on to. This process allows chemicals to coat more evenly and adhere more readily to a given surface.

Where can an electrostatic sprayer be used?

An electrostatic sprayer can disinfect almost any surface. They are especially good for hard, non-porous surfaces. Porous surfaces (such as wood or fabric) are more likely to absorb the chemicals, reducing their ability to effectively cover the entire area and making them more difficult to rinse away.

A few examples of facilities that have found sanitization success with electrostatic sprayer technology are:

  • Schools and educational facilities
  • Airports and airplanes
  • Restaurants
  • Office buildings
  • Health clinics
  • Spas
  • Theaters and stadiums
  • Long-term care facilities
  • Private homes

Who can use an electrostatic sprayer?

Part of what has made this technology useful in so many settings is its ease of use. Almost anyone can learn to operate these sprayers safely and effectively. There are a range of models available including backpacks, rolling tanks and highly portable handheld options. Operators can choose the model that best fits their operational needs.

How are electrostatic sprayers operated?

Victory battery-powered cordless electrostatic sprayers all follow a simple five-step setup process.

  1. Charge the battery.
  2. Remove and fill the tank with the sanitizing chemical, according to the chemical label’s instructions.
  3. Reattach the tank.
  4. Insert the charged battery. Ensure the switch is in the “off” position prior to battery installation.
  5. Point sprayer at the desired surface and pull the trigger to begin spraying.

Some models, such as the cordless backpack, come with a nozzle wrench that allows you to select a precise particle size before you install the battery. Such nuance makes these models a popular choice among professional cleaning services and in facilities with particularly exacting sanitization needs.

On the other hand, the handheld sprayer was designed with absolute simplicity in mind. Anyone, from teachers in a classroom to mom-and-pop restaurant operations, can simply charge, fill, install and go.

How do I choose the right electrostatic sprayer disinfectant?

Many folks looking for sanitizing and disinfecting solutions right now are especially concerned by the COVID-19 virus. The EPA’s List-N covers all of the disinfecting chemicals approved to kill COVID-19.

Once you’ve chosen a sanitizer, you’ll need to look into its safety instructions. All disinfecting chemicals have detailed labels explaining safe use and precautions that should be taken. Pay special attention to the corrosivity of the chemical you are using. Some may degrade certain materials on contact or have a destructive effect on the plastic components of the sprayer. Most water-based chemicals are safe to use.

Remember, whatever chemical you use, it is a good idea to periodically clean an electrostatic sprayer to clear out residue and buildup. The cleaning process typically involves running a full tank of plain water through the sprayer. This flushing process will help the sprayer continue to function optimally.

Are electrostatic sprayers safe?

Electrostatic sprayers are designed to be easy to use and safe to operate. That said, there are certain cautions and best practices that are advised.

Every Victory electrostatic sprayer model comes with a detailed manual. The manual includes caution warnings and instructions for safe operations. Carefully read the owner’s manual prior to using an electrostatic sprayer to help ensure safe and effective use.

Here are four things you should NEVER do with an electrostatic sprayer:

  • Using the sprayer to apply flammable or oil-based liquids.
  • Using the sprayer if any part of it is broken or damaged.
  • Inserting any foreign objects into the nozzle of the sprayer.
  • Using attachments not recommended or sold by the manufacturer of the sprayer.

How can electrostatic sprayers make sanitization safer?

Electrostatic sprayers fix many of the problems found with conventional sanitization methods. As mentioned previously, the positively charged droplets spread more evenly and coat more completely. This provides two major safety benefits. First, it reduces the risks of missed spots during the sanitizing process. Second, the charged bond helps the droplets to stick to surfaces and ensure sufficient chemical dwell times are met.

Using electrostatic sprayers also limits the amount of physical contact a human needs to make with a given surface during the sanitizing process. This means less risk of moving bacteria and viruses around through cross-contamination. It may also reduce the need for wearing disposable gloves, which present a potential exposure risk every time they need to be removed and discarded.

Finally, electrostatic sprayers contribute to the safety of the environment by using 65% fewer chemicals than traditional sanitizing methods.

Can electrostatic sprayers help save money?

There’s no getting around the fact that initial investment costs for electrostatic sprayers are markedly higher than most other sanitizing solutions. However, there are multiple ways that the technology results in savings once it’s in use.

First, electrostatic sprayers are faster. Fewer people can sanitize larger areas in less time with electrostatic sprayers than with traditional sanitization methods. Second, the fewer chemicals used by electrostatic sprayers means less money spent over time replacing materials.

Finally, electrostatic sprayers put professional-level sanitization in the hands of anyone. They reduce or eliminate the need for outside services by allowing any existing personnel to easily and safely sanitize almost any surface.

This democratization of the sanitizing process makes it easy for anyone, anywhere, to take charge of keeping their facility or home safe. And that’s peace of mind that’s difficult to put a price on.

[1] https://www.chicagomag.com/Chicago-Magazine/The-312/November-2011/The-Contentious-Historical-Origins-Spray-Paint/