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electrostatic sprayer

Electrostatic Sprayers Come of Age in the Time of COVID-19

May 27, 2020 by Marc Rapport

Property managers were always responsible for the health and safety of their buildings, but now that responsibility has taken on unprecedented weight as offices, stores, and more slowly reopen during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Along with placing shields and spacing people, deep cleaning of surfaces, furniture, and fixtures is a major new imperative, and electrostatic disinfection is a growing practice as a result.

In fact, as this article in Fortune points out, some businesses are switching their business model to provide this suddenly in-demand service, but property managers, landlords, and homeowners can also do it on their own. They just need to be willing to invest in buying (or renting, if possible) and using electrostatic disinfection equipment.

Seek and deploy

Here are the guidelines for disinfecting buildings currently posted by the Centers for Disease Control. Electrostatic sprayers could be key to helping meet them, especially since so many disinfectants are available that are proven to be effective when deployed to remove or reduce coronaviruses.

The idea is pretty simple: Electrostatic sprayers use positive and negative charges on disinfecting liquids to encourage the spray to better seek out and stick to surfaces, helping create even coverage even in tough-to-reach areas, and without spills or pooling. And it's way faster than cleaning by hand wearing gloves.

Doing this kind of cleaning on a regular basis, and now as often as possible, is where the ease and efficiency of electrostatic spraying really shines, allowing staff to quickly and thoroughly clean facilities full of equipment, furniture, and fixtures, like gyms, retail stores, and restaurants.

"The technology is well-established, with a history of more than 60 years in other areas, including agriculture, automotive, and tanning industries, but it has only recently been applied to surface disinfection," said a December article in Cleaning & Maintenance Management magazine.

Building demand for building cleaning

That article, presciently enough, was posted just weeks before the novel coronavirus apparently first landed in America. Now businesses large and small -- from airlines to mom and pops -- are using the sprayers, and the demand is growing.

"The demand for this has been unreal once people started paying attention to disinfecting," Hotsy Pacific sales manager Michael Coleman told San Francisco CBS affiliate KPIX5.

That article was posted on April 29 and Coleman said then that his earliest delivery date would be about now, the end of May.

The sprayers come in multiple configurations, from cordless portable models to rolling carts, and the prices are all over the map. Check out this page from eBay (NASDAQ: EBAY), which shows bid prices ranging from $1,000 to $7,000.

Atomizing sprayers, which turn a liquid into very small droplets, are generally much cheaper, but while often advertised in tandem with electrostatic sprayers, they are not the same thing, since they don't create the static electricity charge that makes liquids cling to surfaces, especially in nooks and crannies.

Rinse and repeat

Electrostatic spraying makes cleaning and disinfecting a much faster job, but it's hardly one and done, since it cleans but does not create a protective barrier.

"It disinfects, or kills, unwanted pathogens from every targeted surface but won't protect those surfaces from becoming infected again," says this FAQ from OctoClean Franchising Systems in Riverside, California.

"Institutions like medical facilities, schools, and gyms may require electrostatic disinfection more frequently because they are introduced to new, potentially harmful pathogens on a daily basis," that page says.

That applies to homes and small businesses, too, and really pretty much anywhere people come and go, and because electrostatic spraying is so efficient, it might be the way to go for do-it-yourself homeowners, landlords, and Airbnb hosts, for instance, to disinfect for their own safety and between guests.

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Marc Rapport has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends eBay and recommends the following options: long January 2021 $18 calls on eBay and short January 2021 $37 calls on eBay. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.