cleaning chemical spray bottle

Chemical proportioners — wall-mounted units that convert chemical concentrate into cleaning solutions — have been popular for decades. They are an economical, efficient and consistent alternative to ready-to-use (RTU) products. This equipment is full of advantages for facility departments, but only when used correctly and when the equipment matches cleaning needs.

For this article, we spoke with jan/san distributors from different regions across the country to get their inside advice on best practices for choosing and using chemical proportioners, safety concerns that should always be considered and innovations they are seeing on the chemical proportioner market.

Hidden Benefits

“Chemical proportioners hit a number of different buttons when it comes to savings and efficiency,” says Bill McGarvey, director of training and sustainability at Philip Rosenau Co., Warminster, Pennsylvania. “First, you are increasing safety and effectiveness because you have a more consistent product mix, and next you are saving money.”

Investing in chemical proportioners can mean an up-front expense, but once equipment is installed, costs are minimal. Departments won’t need to purchase these highly-concentrated chemicals nearly as often as their RTU counterparts.

“When you are purchasing RTU products across the country, you are often paying to ship mostly water,” says McGarvey. “With chemical proportioners, you use your own water.”

According to Nick Spallone, CEO of Tahoe Supply Company, Carson City, Nevada, “People will usually see a cost savings of about 30 percent in using these systems.”

In addition to these more obvious cost savings, Spallone notes that chemical proportioners can save a lot of space and offer hidden costs for facility cleaning departments, too.
“These concentrated products take up much less space in a closet, freeing up racks where old RTU products were once stored,” he says. “When we can reduce storage for our customers, we can give them high yields with reduced costs.”

From a sustainability standpoint, departments that use chemical proportioners can cut down on packaging, shipping and transportation. Cleaning managers will see an immediate reduction in recycling and disposal fees by eliminating disposal of packaging associated with large deliveries of RTU products.

These closed-loop chemicals also improve safety. Typically, these systems will isolate the concentrated chemical away from the cleaning professional, meaning that the risk of chemical exposure to the employee is much less.

Once chemical has been correctly diluted into appropriate spray bottles, safety protocols require these bottles to be properly labeled.

“There are cautionary tales of people using old beverage bottles to store chemicals,” warns Keith Schneringer, director of channel marketing and sustainability at San Diego-based Waxie. “When mixing solutions using proportioners, it is a requirement to label spray bottles so that end users know exactly which chemical is in there. Labeling should be part of all standard operating procedures.”

Most manufacturers offer adhesive labels for minimal or no cost to help end users meet their responsibility to keep all products properly labeled. Some manufacturers will also provide silk-screened, labeled spray bottles. Schneringer always recommends using the manufacturers’ labels to avoid any confusion and keep things consistent.

“Make sure the staff is trained to not only label, but also match the product to the label,” he adds.

If facility cleaning managers follow the best practices for labeling provided by the manufacturer, the entire system can become very simple for the staff to understand.
“One of the best parts of having a closed-loop control system designed by a manufacturer is that they have thought of everything,” says Spallone. “The labels have pictures of where to use the product, they are numbered and color coded, cutting down on confusion and helping to keep the process streamlined.”

next page of this article:
What To Consider When Introducing Proportioners