Part three of this article examines the uses for portable proportioners.

Unlike wall-mounted units, portable proportioners do not require installation or ongoing maintenance. They also require little to no training: The user simply connects the chemical container or handheld unit to a water source, adjusts the control knob to low flow for bottles or high flow for buckets and autoscrubbers, and squeezes the trigger. Backflow prevention is standard on all systems to ensure that the chemical does not flow back into the water supply.

Some portable dispensers are equipped with a nozzle that foams the cleaning product for direct application to the surface in need of cleaning.

“This device is really handy in health clubs where they have large showers with multiple showerheads,” says Smith. “You can go in and easily foam down the entire shower area, then scrub it and rinse it thoroughly.”

Some manufacturers make portable, self-contained foamers and sprayers meant for cleaning and sanitizing. The two products are frequently used for lockers rooms and restrooms, but they can also be used outside to clean building exteriors, walkways, Dumpsters and more, says Sizonen.

For customers that require higher pressure to attack stubborn dirt or to get the job done more quickly, there are even battery-powered mobile cleaning machines that house and proportion several concentrated chemicals for cleaning and disinfecting sinks, showers, urinals, counters and floors, says Sizonen. To switch from one cleaning product to another, the user simply turns a dial and pulls the trigger sprayer, at which point the cleaning product is properly diluted via a metering tip inside the appropriate chemical container.

“You can wheel this into a restroom and take care of all your cleaning needs,” says Sizonen. “You have your squeegee, scrub brush and hose on board, and you also have an 8-gallon water tank and a 100-psi pressurized gun with a trigger sprayer. This controls your chemical consumption so you don’t have to worry about customers guessing how much to mix or taking a bucket of water and slopping it on the wall.”

In fact, managing chemical usage is a big selling point for jan/san distributors.

“The word is control,” says Sortino. “Portable systems help you control what’s going on in your building when you’re not there.”

According to Sortino, portable systems are also cost-effective, because they reduce the waste that occurs when manually mixing chemicals. They also reduce the amount of plastic going into the landfill. One container of concentrate can make 20 gallons of cleaner, potentially replacing 80 1-quart bottles of ready-to-use product.

Despite its multitude of benefits, portable dispensers are not suitable for every cleaning situation.

“One of the drawbacks of these systems is you have to have a water source, and you have to have adequate water pressure,” says Sortino. “When customers have problems with these proportioning systems, a lot of times it’s because there’s not enough water pressure.”

Portable proportioners can also be more easily damaged than wall-mounted units.

“The biggest issue we run into with mobile units is they get dropped or squished on a janitor’s cart,” says Martini.

Yet the advantages of portable proportioners far outweigh the disadvantages. And although wall-mounted units are still distributors’ best sellers, they’re seeing a growing interest in mobile dispensers, particularly when sold in conjunction with wall-mounted units. Chemical cartridges for wall-mounted and portable proportioning systems are often interchangeable, giving the customer greater flexibility.

No doubt wall-mounted dispensers have a place in the majority of customers’ businesses, but portable proportioners can fill in the gaps, freeing custodians from a central location or replacing wall-mounted proportioners in facilities that lack adequate space. Regardless which proportioning systems customers choose — wall-mounted units, portable proportioners or a combination of both — they can rest assured that their cleaning products are accurately diluted.

Kassandra Kania is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, North Carolina. She is a frequent contributor to Sanitary Maintenance.