10 Questions To Ask When Purchasing Disinfecting Equipment
How big is your facility and how many times do you anticipate spraying surfaces in it?
This is an important question because if you purchase an undersized handheld sprayer, you will see your labor costs dramatically increase. As a general rule, if you have less than 1,000 square feet to cover, you are fine with a handheld sprayer. Once you start talking over 1,000 square feet and in some cases 100,000 square feet, you need to invest in high-volume sprayers. These sprayers will have a much higher upfront cost, however, they will dramatically reduce labor cost. Most high-volume sprayers pay for themselves within a few months. The larger the venue, the faster the payback. In the case of a 500,000 square foot venue, like a sports arena or convention center, a high volume sprayer could pay for itself in one month!
What areas of your facility do you intend on spraying disinfectant?
Most disinfectants are designed to spray on non-porous substrates like a desk, table, doorknobs, etc., and are not meant for porous substrates like a bed, clothing, a rug, etc. Sometimes you will have a mix and it’s important to read the label of the disinfectant. Most “Product Data Sheets” will offer this information. Always ask for a Product Data Sheet which will give you this information as well as coverage per gallon, main ingredients, how it should be applied, etc.
Is the equipment battery operated or does it require an extension cord?
Battery operated sprayers give you the versatility needed if you are constantly moving in and out of rooms like a school class or a hotel room. The drawback is that the battery life tends to decrease with time and even initially may only last 20 -35 minutes. We would recommend asking for at least one extra batter if not a 3rd battery. Most batteries take 90-120 minutes to recharge so if you are only getting 25 minutes, for example, and you are covering a large space, it’s important to have those back up batteries ready. Corded sprayers, although adding a layer of complexity with an extension cord having to be plugged in, provide a way to avoid having to keep spare batteries on hand. Most cleaning / in-house janitorial staff is accustomed to working around extension cords with other equipment they are using so it’s not as complex as one would think.
How quickly can you get the equipment?
During the height of the first wave of the COVID19 pandemic, supplies were wiped out and many buyers had to wait many months for their orders to come in. We will have other waves coming at different times for different states. We recommend finding out what the lead time is on the equipment depending upon quantities you may need. Someone who needs one or two units may not run into an issue, but a location needing 10+ may need to wait.
Is the disinfectant solution on the EPA List N?
So many disinfectants have jumped into the race that it can be overwhelming. One thing to stay focused on is if the disinfectant is on the EPA List N which are the only approved disinfectants that kill the coronavirus. Ask for an EPA Registration number (which should be on the Product Data Sheet) and then look it up on the EPA website to confirm it.
Is the disinfectant solution approved to be sprayed through electrostatically charged sprayers?
This is a question people rarely ask! We automatically assume anything can be put into the electrostatic sprayers. Most disinfectants were not made to be sprayed with an electrostatic sprayer. Think about this, prior to the pandemic, did you even hear of an electrostatic sprayer? Probably not because they were not popular at all and so most disinfectants were sprayed using a spray bottle or via mop and bucket. Some products sprayed through an electrostatic sprayer will change chemistry and lose efficacy. It is important to check the Product Data Sheet for this information.
Do you need to wipe down the solution you are spraying?
In the rush to get products out, something quickly overlooked is the basic question of whether you need to wipe down after you spray. Many products need to be wiped down to be effective. Many of the products leave a residue which forces you to wipe down anyway. Doesn’t sound like that big of a deal if you are spraying 500 square feet, but if you are spraying an entire classroom or church or sports arena – that is a lot of extra time and labor cost that needs to be accounted for.
What is the main ingredient in your solution?
The vast majority of EPA List N disinfectants are quats. Quats (quaternary ammonium compounds) are potent disinfectant chemicals commonly found in disinfectant wipes, sprays and other household cleaners that are designed to kill germs. We all want product that kills or inactivates the Sars-Cov-2 virus, but we need to be careful here. If we are frequently spraying a quat disinfectant, we are also negatively affecting the indoor air quality in the same space. In addition, the amount of quats that some facilities are doing can also be harmful to the applicators themselves. We would recommend a hydrogen peroxide-based concentrate, or even better, an organic formula. The interesting thing here is that an organic product that has tests to prove it kills the coronavirus, may not be on the EPA List N. Why ? Because the reality is that it doesn’t fall under EPA regulations (EPA regulates toxic products that produce VOCs), however there are a handful of really good organic solutions that have made it on the EPA List N because the manufacturers recognized the importance of being on the list and paid for the EPA “stamp of approval” going through all through proper channels.
What kind of training or support will you get from the company selling you the disinfectant?
An interesting question because the majority of suppliers don’t offer any real guidance here. They just supply the product. It’s a great question to ask because there are some suppliers that do offer great training and support. Remember that this pandemic is new to almost all facility managers, but it is not new to some suppliers who have been supplying these products for a very long time. Some of these suppliers understood the value of training so that applicators have a very clear understanding of why they need to do things a certain way.
What is the warranty on the equipment and will the supplier stand behind the product?
Most equipment sold have one-year warranty, some less. I would ask if the manufacturer sells extended warranties. In some rare instances, you will actually find a lifetime warranty!