Well, let’s start off by clearing up a common misconception. The question to ask is, “What is electrostatic disinfecting?” In the cleaning and hygiene industry, “electrostatic cleaning” actually refers to electrostatic disinfecting. While these terms are often used interchangeably, in reality they refer to two very different infection control processes.
Electrostatics provide no mechanical cleaning action, i.e., they do not remove physical soil. Rather, the electrostatic device is used to disinfect mechanically pre-cleaned surfaces. Let’s look into this in a bit more detail.
Why Do We Need Electrostatic Disinfecting?
Using a little elbow grease and cleaning solution are a great first step in disinfecting, but it is virtually impossible to disinfect every square inch of surface area in a building this way. Not only is it prohibitively expensive in terms of labour, but also unrealistic in terms of time available. In reality, germs and bacteria spread into hard-to-reach surfaces faster than we can clean them away. In fact, colony-forming units of bacteria and viruses are hiding in many areas that we cannot access with current methodologies and equipment.
Imagine trying to apply a disinfecting solution to all the nooks and crannies that exist in a hospital, including wheelchairs, walkers, beds and other medical equipment. Additionally, let’s take a look at offices, which is another critical cleaning environment. There are a vast number of hard-to-reach areas that are potentially covered in pathogenic bacteria, like keyboards, phones, and desks — just to name a few! Remember that we are disinfecting to have a positive impact on workplace absenteeism as well as the overall health of a facility.
Electrostatic disinfection is the magic bullet that healthcare and public infection control has been waiting for. Electrostatics provide a step that can now effectively augment the current processes that facilities use to protect the public from nosocomial and community based pathogens. They can also augment SOPs for facilities that are building out infection control programs, in light of the evolutionary response that microbiology continues to present. Successful infection control programs rely not just on good process but the right tools to manage facility health.
What is Electrostatic Disinfecting and How Does it Work?
Electrostatic disinfecting is a way of quickly and evenly coating a surface with a disinfecting solution. This is done by using an electrostatic applicator that gives a negative charge to the disinfecting solution as it exits the nozzle. The charged molecules will repel each other, meaning they will be an even distance from each other, but will be attracted to the surface they are applied to. The charged particles have a charge strength greater than gravity allowing them to directionally target a selected surface very quickly providing near immediate room reentry.
The science behind it is detailed, but in the simplest of terms, electrostatic disinfecting works by providing a charge to a solution so that it electromagnetically sticks to a targeted surface, providing 360-degree coverage.
In most instances, surfaces are neutral. So when an electrostatic disinfecting system, like the Clorox® Total 360®, provides a negative charge to the solution, said solution will be attracted to a surface with a different polarity. If you want to get even more technical, this is an example of Coulomb’s Law. It’s also how the automotive industry has evenly and accurately spread spray paint onto cars for decades.
Why Is Electrostatic Disinfecting So Effective?
Harmful pathogens can live on surfaces for days, and will potentially double every 20 minutes given the right food source and ambient temperature. This provides ample opportunity to create situations for cross contamination. Conventional cleaning and disinfecting does a fine job of managing microbiological load on common touch points. However, the evolutionary flexibility of modern pathogens is such that we need to add new strategies to manage cross contamination and microbial load in many types of facilities well beyond acute care. Electrostatic disinfecting provides a broad-spectrum approach to disinfecting a complete surface area and an entire room as we have never seen before.