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The cleaning product industry has experienced unprecedented demand for supplies and solutions since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020. Consumers significantly increased their standard for cleaning and often sought out products with strong claims on performance, especially disinfection, according to Chemical Engineering and News

In 2021, excessive cleaning started to fade, but consumers still wanted that same peace of mind. The demand shifted to quick, easy cleaning solutions that are also good for their families and the environment. As we continue through 2022, it is not expected that routine cleaning behaviors will go anywhere soon.

As people continue to venture back out into public spaces, they also want those environments to be as safe and clean as their homes, including hotels, restaurants, schools and airlines. Facility managers play a significant role in ensuring these spaces are well-maintained and foster the safe and healthy environment consumers want. Let’s take a look at the best way to accomplish the task.

Cleaning Versus Disinfecting

Cleaning and disinfecting are essential parts of preventing the spread of viruses and diseases in public places. It’s essential to know the difference and how often to do each so proper precautions are in place. Here is a quick guide to understanding the difference:

  • Cleaning removes dirt, dust, crumbs and germs from surfaces or objects. You will likely clean with soap or detergent products to remove contaminants and physically clean off the surfaces or objects. By removing some of the contaminants, you will have also removed some of the germs and decreased the risk of infection from those surfaces, according to the CDC.
  • Disinfecting uses chemicals to kill any remaining germs on those surfaces to reduce further any risk of spreading infection. This process doesn’t necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs but instead kills the active germs.
  • Sanitizing lowers the number of germs on the surface to a safe level through cleaning or disinfecting. What is considered a safe level depends on public health standards or requirements based on the environment; a restaurant or food preparation area will have different needs than a school or workplace.

The CDC recommends cleaning surfaces before disinfecting to kill germs and remove them as well. It’s important to sanitize surfaces or objects that are touched often to neutralize the germs, such as doorknobs, faucet handles, seating and more. You may want to clean and disinfect more frequently if the shared space is a high traffic area with a large number of people, is poorly ventilated or does not provide access to handwashing or hand sanitizer.

Disinfecting Tool Options

Properly disinfecting a commercial space can be complicated. It requires the correct tools for your specific environment in order to achieve effective results. Facilities managers need to carefully select the cleaners and disinfectants, but also the methods they use to safely and effectively remove pathogens from the air and surfaces. Some of the leading industrial methods for disinfecting include:

  • Electrostatic sprayer: A device that works by mixing disinfectant solutions with air, then applying an electric charge to them through an electrode inside the sprayer nozzle. Once the positively charged disinfectant is sprayed onto surfaces, any negatively charged surface bonds with it, producing a more thorough coat and a better chance of killing any pathogen. Benefits of this method include reduced time to disinfect all surfaces and hard-to-reach places by 50%, a more efficient and controlled application, and less pooling of liquid. The EPA categorizes electrostatic sprayers as low-pressure sprayers and can use any disinfectant labeled as such. This tool can be effective for disinfecting broad areas, but training and the proper selection of tool and fluid are needed to ensure proper coverage and results.
  • Fogger, also known as mister: A device that uses a fan and a liquid solution to create a fog (aerosol with tiny droplets) or mist that is applied via wide-area spraying. The particles in the mist are so small that they remain suspended in the air longer and can kill airborne viruses and bacteria. Additionally, the smaller particles evaporate quickly and don’t require wipe-down afterward, unless you are working with a more sensitive surface. Overall, this is a rapid and efficient way to reach those more difficult areas, nooks and crannies while also disinfecting a broad area at the same time. 

The Benefits of Ultra-Low Volume Fogging

Ultra-low volume fogging is a highly effective treatment in combating the spread of microbial contamination, especially in high-traffic areas. A fogger or mister utilizes a large volume of air at low pressure to transform liquids into small, fine droplets that are then dispersed into the air to cover a wide area at once. The most prominent benefits include:

  • Less formulation is used to cover a larger area rather than just a single surface. 
  • Reaching difficult-to-clean areas such as behind or under furniture as well as ceilings, walls and floors. 
  • Electric portable versions are ideal for indoor applications as they don't produce exhaust gases and are minimally noisy.
  • An average wait time is between 30 seconds and 15-minutes due to the fine particles evaporating quickly and no additional wipe-down required afterward.
  • More cost-effective compared to other disinfecting methods.

Also, remember that it is crucial to follow the manufacturer's instructions and use compatible solutions to avoid hazards or serious injuries. The appropriate personal protective equipment and other safety measures should be used for the safety of the operator where necessary.

Potential Challenges

Electrostatic sprayers, foggers and vaporizers are not without their challenges. These devices aerosolize chemicals, (or suspend them in the air), and they can stay there for extended periods of time. Aerosolizing most common disinfectants can irritate the skin, eyes or airways as well as cause other health issues for people who breathe it in. Risks are even more significant in dining and food preparation spaces or areas where children, pets and plants spend time. The CDC recommends that personal protective equipment be worn as a precaution in these situations.

A Safer Alternative

A large factor affecting these methods' safety is the chemicals being used and sprayed into the air. Some commonly used disinfectant products use chemistries such as quaternary amines, peroxides or bleach, which are complex to manufacture. They are typically made on a large scale in chemical plants and come with health risks as well as multiple efficacy issues. Bleach, in particular, is made from feedstocks that are hazardous chemicals to handle and transport, and care must be taken when using to avoid exposure to bare skin and airways that could result in breathing difficulties or asthma. Read more about the potential adverse side effects here.

While bleach and peroxides are commonly found in less-than-friendly disinfectants, there is a more natural solution — Hypochlorous Acid (HOCl). HOCl is a natural chemical compound produced in all mammals' immune systems. It is made from three simple ingredients: salt minerals, water and electricity. When white blood cells recognize a potential for illness, the body automatically creates HOCl on-demand to seek out these pathogens. 

Like many of the things we use on a daily basis, disinfectants make their way back into our water systems, so it becomes important to choose solutions that are safe for both us and the environment. There are no harsh chemicals or fumes, and it is easy to use, pure, natural and eco-friendly. HOCl helps remove harmful biofilm, kill toxic algae and heal the ecosystem by working alongside its biological processes. Our all-purpose, everyday cleaners are made using this potent ingredient (HOCl) 500ppm and are safe to use around people, pets and plants. Watch as Dylan Roney, strategic partner, sprays the solution directly in his face.

Ultra-Low Volume Cold Fogger

HOCl and our ultra-low volume cold fogger are the ideal pair. You can disinfect large areas safely and efficiently to help consumers feel safe while also helping protect the environment. The lightweight and compact design is suitable for full coverage of offices, restaurants, food services, schools, hospitals, senior centers, pet boarding, greenhouses, commercial properties and more. With its extended spray distance and ultra-small droplet size, this compact, versatile unit is the industry-leading choice for all your fogging needs.

Emerald Prairie Health is a purpose-driven company, committed to providing products that make for a cleaner, safer and healthier world. We provide all-natural, non-toxic and environmentally friendly cleaning and disinfectant products that help protect against harmful pathogens such as bacteria and viruses. Our products are 99.99% effective with no fumes or chemical residues, allowing you to return to the office, classroom, business and your life in a clean and safe environment.

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