Top view of Professional Liquid Wash Soap Refill light pink color chemicals in plastic bottles cans in the warehouse store. Heap Antibacterial Hand Soap in plastic canisters

Cleaning chemicals are a vital component of the janitorial toolbox. They are used daily to clean floors, furniture, fixtures, surfaces, touch points, windows, and more. These chemicals can be purchased ready to use (RTU) or in concentrated form to be mixed with water to the right levels for safe and effective application. The mixing of concentrated solutions can be done by frontline staff, but it is essential for those staff members to be trained on the proper dispensing and mixing of these chemicals.  

Unfortunately, it’s still all too common to find frontline workers using the “glug-glug” method of chemical measurement — pouring concentrate into a bucket and adding water until it “looks right,” guessing at the amount dispensed, or carelessly pouring concentrated solutions without focusing on the task. This technique often results in damage to the facility, or worse, end user or building occupant injury. The glug method makes it difficult to control splashes that can burn the skin, or mist/vapors that can cause health problems if inhaled. Meanwhile, surfaces can be damaged beyond repair, too, if highly concentrated spills occur and aren’t properly tended to. 

Often unaware of the dangers, many frontline workers implement the glug method because they believe “if a little chemical is good, more will be better.” Proper training in chemical dispensing and use will negate this. That training will reiterate that not only is using too much concentrated chemical dangerous, but it can also be costly for custodial programs as they burn through chemicals more rapidly than necessary.  

This is where dilution control systems come in. These are (most often) a wall-mounted dispensing system through which chemical concentrates are accurately measured and mixed with water, then dispensed as ready-to-use cleaning solution into bottles, buckets or autoscrubbers. They combine the cost savings of using concentrated chemicals in tandem with the facilities existing water supplies, resulting in cleaning solutions that are dispensed, every time, to the correct, safe mix.  

Dilution Advantages 

Dilution control systems aren’t new, but many end user customers are still unaware of their advantages. Here are four distinct selling points distributors should highlight: 

1. Cost Savings 

“The biggest advantage is definitely that dilution control systems are cost effective,” says Jonathan Funk, president of Ohio-based DTB Distributors, Inc.  

He adds that these cost savings come both in the form of shipping and product usage. Because concentrates ship without water added, chemical containers are smaller and weigh less, making transportation less expensive.  

Bruce Heller, president, Cavalier, Inc. in Norfolk, Virginia, agrees, saying, “Dilution control systems significantly reduce RTU cost. We are not selling the water.” 

In addition, the systems automatically pull proper amounts of chemical to dilute with water, which controls quantity. Savings also come from the fact that measured chemical dispensing avoids spillage or misuse, getting more useable product out of each bulk unit. 

Both Heller and Funk agree that the cost savings to end user customers is immediate. For example, in most cases, the manufacturer and distributor will provide the dilution system and labels at no charge. If these aren’t provided, Funk strongly suggests selling customers on an installed dilution system, citing that there is usually no cost on that labor. 

“You can also look at storage as another cost savings scenario,” adds Heller. “Concentrated chemicals and dilution control systems have a much smaller footprint. The only additional costs come with bottles and triggers, which are very low-cost items.” 

2. Safety 

Another selling point of dilution control systems is improved safety. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), institutions in the U.S. spend more than $75 million each year on medical expenses and lost-time wages for janitorial staff due to chemical-related injuries. The EPA also says that six out of every 100 janitors are injured annually by exposure to harsh cleaning chemicals.  

Distributors should highlight that with dilution control systems, the chemicals are contained within, and they are dispensed at the desired concentration. This means frontline staff are far less likely to be injured by spills or splashes from concentrated solutions during mixing. 

“It eliminates human error regarding diluting chemicals, which is very important when it comes to disinfectants in particular,” says Heller. “Dilution control systems will most often have locking mechanisms for the chemicals to ensure proper safety.” 

3. The Human Factor 

Promoting the worker safety aspects of dilution control systems is a selling point, but distributors may be asked what the training and learning curve is for these systems, especially in a tight labor market when workers may be difficult to find or keep. The good news is, distributors all agree that the systems are easy to train on. 

“[They are] very easy,” says Heller. “Most utilize a dial to select the product and a button to dispense. It is less confusing yet similar to selecting a fountain beverage at your favorite convenience store or fast-food restaurant.” 

Funk agrees, stressing that dilution control systems are, for the most part, self-explanatory.  

“A good distributor will put up wall charts next to the dispensers,” he adds. “Those charts tell users exactly what each chemical does and how it should and shouldn’t be used. Many times, it's also color coded.”  

In addition to color coding, the charts and labels on the system are often printed with bilingual indicators and instructions. 

4. Green 

For end users who require environmentally friendly or “green” cleaning, dilution control systems can be promoted as supportive of these initiatives. There is the immediate reduction both in waste — controlled chemical use and less plastic waste because concentrated chemicals come in smaller packages — and the overall carbon footprint by purchasing and shipping fewer bottles. Users also have the option of specifying green-certified chemicals in recyclable bottles. 

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How Distributors Can Best Recommend Dilution Control Systems