Expert Interview – The Power of Electrostatic Cleaning

I met Jeremiah Gray, featured in this month’s Expert Interview, while he was demonstrating a handheld electrostatic sprayer to Imperial Dade’s sales team. This innovative system peaked my interest and I asked him to share the details. Jeremiah is the Cofounder and Chief Operating Officer of EarthSafe Chemical Alternatives.

LC: Tell me about EarthSafe and why you started the company.

JG: EarthSafe entered the cleaning industry 4 years ago. Our goal was to leverage advanced technology to develop innovative and practical solutions for the cleaning industry. We addressed the long-standing challenges in making cleaning protocols more effective at reducing illness and keeping people healthier through touchless disinfection systems that combine electrostatic spraying technology with carefully selected chemistries.

LC: What is electrostatic spraying technology?

JG: Electrostatic spraying is a technology that has been used in industry for over 50 years to more effectively and efficiently apply liquids, such as paints and coatings, to a surface by creating a magnetic attraction between the spray droplets and the surface you want to coat. In industries like automotive manufacturing, vehicle bodies on the assembly line have been painted electrostatically for over 40 years, resulting in an 80% faster time to paint a car and a 50% reduction in paint waste during the process. Given the efficiencies that electrostatics brings to industrial painting, it’s easy to see the benefits that electrostatic spraying would bring to a cleaning industry in dire need of more effective and efficient ways to disinfect and sanitize surfaces.

LC: It is! So how did you take this technology and create a solution for the commercial cleaning industry?

JG: The challenge was in developing a system that delivered the capabilities of industrial electrostatic equipment but was also convenient, easy to use, and affordable enough to be accessible to custodians, housekeepers, and infection prevention specialists across every industry. We addressed that challenge when we launched our line of affordable, battery powered electrostatic sprayers into the market in 2015. Our sprayers are not only compact and portable, but affordable.

LC: How does the sprayer work? For example, when used to clean a hospital room?

JG: To give a basic understanding of how this technology works, consider that all of the objects we interact with on a daily basis in our homes, schools, offices, hospitals, etc. have the ability to build up an electrical charge. This is the reason that a balloon, when rubbed on your hair for a few seconds will stick fast to a wall, or touching a doorknob after rubbing your feet across a wool carpet will often result in a spark. For most metals, plastics, wood and other surfaces the charged surface will most often be negative.

JG: With this understanding, our portable electrostatic spraying technology was designed to spray disinfectant and sanitizing solutions that carry a positive charge and, much like the latex balloon, will magnetically attract to room surfaces. This attraction enables the droplets to not only coat the front side of surfaces, but also bend and wrap around objects to achieve nearly complete 360° coverage. This provides far greater reach into hard to clean spaces than what’s possible with traditional cleaning and sanitation methods. Greater coverage in less time leads to fewer missed spots, and the ability to more proactively and effectively treat surfaces to prevent the spread of infections.

LC: How much faster can a hospital room be cleaned using electrostatic spraying compared to traditional cleaning methods?

JG: Our Evaclean system can electrostatically disinfect 100% of all touchpoints in a hospital room in under 3 minutes. A typical cleaning process can reach 25% of those room surfaces in 15 minutes. This results in significant labor savings. Touchless disinfection of surfaces is proven to be more effective in reducing infection rates and outbreaks. In addition, this process is easier to train and maintain than cleaning protocols that require custodians to learn complicated checklists of all surfaces in a facility that need to wiped in order to be properly disinfected or sanitized.

LC: What other types of businesses can benefit from this technology?

JG: Any industry with a need for more effective cleaning and surface sanitation would benefit. With the 2017/2018 flu outbreaks as bad as they were, schools and businesses are preparing now to better protect themselves. Sports and athletic facilities utilize our system to not only prevent outbreaks like MRSA but also eliminate the odors associated with incomplete cleaning procedures. Quick service restaurants, food processing facilities, and grocery stores face a constant challenge of maintaining cost effective sanitation programs that can prevent outbreaks of E. Coli, Salmonella, or Norovirus.

JG: For me, nothing demonstrates the challenges that cleaning professionals and infection preventionists face more than watching my son and his 3 year old friends wreak havoc on a daycare classroom. Within 15 minutes, every toy and bin is touched, hands are coughed in, tables and water fountains are sneezed on, doorknobs are grabbed, and food is dropped. Their little fingers go everywhere. Now overlay the 25% of surfaces that are typically cleaned in a classroom each day with everywhere those little fingers went and you see very quickly that your standard cleaning protocol leaves 50-75% of surfaces untouched and able to transmit germs, some of which can live for weeks on a surface. Your child gets sick, they bring it home. You get sick, you take it to the office, or hospital, and on and on it goes.

LC: Preventing the spread of illnesses in any facility is a daunting task. What are biggest challenges facilities managers and infection control specialists face today?

JG: They key challenges that most face include a lack of time, staff, budget, and training. The good news is that technology exists that provides affordable options to customers looking to utilize their cleaning staff more effectively, efficiently, and safely to better protect the public health and create cleaner, more sanitary environments worldwide. Technology on its own isn’t the solution to their challenges. It’s a tool that helps make solutions possible.

JG: The goal needs to be better cleaning coverage that provides for more comprehensive and frequent disinfection of touchpoints and room surfaces. We’ll never fully prevent people from getting sick, but we can promote better health and reduce outbreaks, not by replacing workers with technology, but by leveraging technology to make those people we rely on to keep us healthy more effective. That’s the power of electrostatics. That’s the future of clean.

Jeremiah Gray can be reached at jgray@earthsafeca.com. For more information about EarthSafe and the Evaclean system contact your Imperial Dade representative or visit www.evaclean.com.