Man wearing mask cleans stationary bikes with electrostatic sprayer.
The switch to electrostatic sprayers has made it easier for janitors at 4M to disinfect fitness equipment PHOTO COURTESY OF CLOROX PROFESSIONAL PRODUCTS COMPANY

When cold and flu season strikes, Dan W. Cline II has the health and well-being of thousands of people on his mind. He isn’t a doctor (and he doesn’t play one on TV), but as executive vice president of 4M Building Solutions, St. Louis, Cline is always looking for what’s new and what can help improve services to clients located in 13 states. 

It was at the ISSA/INTERCLEAN North America trade show in September 2017 where Cline saw something that would bring an exciting change to the way 4M services its clients, which include call centers, medical office buildings and fitness centers, among others, for a total of 85 million square feet of space cleaned each day.  

“We go out [to ISSA] every year just to see the new products and innovations. When we were there, this technology caught my eye. We stopped at a booth, spent some time there, and I really liked what I saw. The Clorox Professional spokespeople did an excellent job of providing us with information,” says Cline, referring to the Clorox Total 360 System, a patented electrostatic cleaning system. 

Electrostatic spraying is a process for applying liquid to a surface that works by charging and atomizing a solution, delivering a powerful flow of droplets, which are charged by the application of an electrical current as they exit the sprayer. The charged particles are attracted to all surfaces, even the backs of them, with a force stronger than gravity, allowing the solution to easily reach and uniformly cover. It has long been used in the agriculture industry for the efficient application of pesticides, especially the hidden undersides of leaves. 

The more uniform coverage of the fine electrostatically charged droplets also allows for better coverage of surfaces with less chemical solution, whether it is pesticide in agriculture or disinfectant in an office building. 

Cline learned that electrostatic machines can target high-touch surfaces and hard-to-reach places in a variety of settings that standard application tools struggle to get. He immediately recognized that this technology could be a powerful tool to more successfully serve some of 4M’s customers such as call centers or fitness centers, helping them stop the spread of germs and potential outbreaks of some types of sickness within their buildings. After the trade show, 4M purchased one of the Clorox 360 machines, but it wasn’t long before they realized they wanted more. 

“With cold and flu season rapidly approaching, I think it was late October or early November when we did buy a machine. Since then, I think we have purchased three or four more machines to use throughout all our markets,” says Cline. 

Easy Training

Before the purchase of the electrostatic machines, 4M’s cleaning protocol consisted of thorough manual cleaning with spray bottles and microfiber cloths to scrub surfaces. With normal spraying, the coverage of surfaces is determined by the direction in which the team member sprays and where the droplets fall based on the effect of gravity, which could result in uneven surface coverage even with the most experienced employee. 

Naturally, the 4M workers who were slated to use the new equipment had to be trained. And, while 4M typically makes sure to spend more than adequate time on training and education, employees using the new system were quickly brought up to speed, which made for an easy and enthusiastic transition, says Cline.

Workers needed training about the processes, whether it was sanitizing or disinfecting. And, they were trained to understand that they don’t need to hold the spray gun in one spot and soak an area. Rather, they just need to mist the surfaces, making sure to cover each area. The kill time is about two minutes for bacteria and under two minutes for viruses. Best of all, no wiping is required with electrostatic spraying as it is with other procedures, and it’s safe for all surfaces including electronic equipment. 

“I think any time that you can make one of your team member’s jobs easier, it’s always well received,” says Cline. “So, simply having to learn to use one piece of equipment, which is very simple to use, and simply having to spray a surface and walk away was very appealing to them.”

One of 4M’s team managers who has been working the system has been delighted with training time and product performance. 

“From my experience, this machine is very light, compact and easy to use. Proper personal protective equipment such as goggles, gloves and a face mask only are required to use as a safety measure by employees,” says Nelson Irizarry, Florida-based team manager. “Installing the chemical on the cart took five seconds and, with the push of a button, we were underway. The machine comes practically ready to use.”

The simple training combined with the innovativeness of the product has led to a boost in productivity.  

“We are now able to clean and disinfect areas that we couldn’t have imagined getting to,” says Irizarry. 


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