This is the first part of a three-part article about portable chemical proportioners.

In the absence of wall-mounted chemical dispensers, custodians are sometimes required to mix cleaning chemicals manually — a messy and often inaccurate process, not to mention potentially hazardous. Preportioned packets have been a welcome addition to the market and have made the process easier by allowing janitors to accurately mix chemicals on the go.

But not every janitor uses the preportioned packets when a wall-mounted system isn’t available. Some janitors still approximate how much chemical to pour from the container, which leaves room for error.

“People are often just guessing,” says Chris Martini, director of marketing for Central Sanitary Supply Co., Modesto,  California. “Custodians that use a bulk gallon concentrated cleaner should use a measuring cup to measure the chemical and mix it with water. The problem is when you’re out in the field, you don’t see measuring cups being used.”

Although wall-mounted dispensers can solve the problem of faulty dilution ratios, installing such units is not always feasible, since some facilities lack janitors’ closets or adequate wall space. In these instances, portable proportioners can help fill the void. These handheld dispensers offer accurate dilution control and can travel with custodians throughout the building.

“What’s great about handheld proportioners is you can take them from one location to another,” says Jim Sortino, vice president of sales for Penn Valley Chemical Co., Lansdale, Pennsylvania. “If you’re going from job to job, for example, you can take your floor cleaner with you and proportion your chemical correctly, as long as you have a water source to hook it up to.”

In facilities with ample square footage, portable proportioners can also free custodians from the tethers of a centrally located mixing station, thereby increasing productivity.

“With portable proportioners, customers can still control usage but also save time,” says Shawn Sizonen, sales manager for Professional Supply Inc., Sheboygan, Wisconsin. “By having these on the janitor’s cart, the custodian doesn’t have to go back and forth to the closet to refill bottles.”