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Spraying Disinfectants a Complete How to Guide and Process Overview (Includes videos)

We have been receiving a lot of questions about spraying disinfectants and to help answer the questions we are going to cover the most common questions we are receiving.  From can a electrostatic paint sprayer spray disinfectant, to what disinfectants are approved to be used with Covid-19 , to the amount of disinfectant that is used to spray an area and more.


Will your electrostatic paint sprayer work with disinfectant?


This is one of the top questions were receiving.  Unfortunately the Wagner electrostatic paint sprayer doesn’t work efficiently with disinfectant in a standard setup.  This is due to the fact that water based materials tend to be highly conductive which results in the voltage being grounded out through the water based product before it can charge the disinfectant / water mixture effectively. 


While there are solutions to help with this, like isolation stands they would not be safe to use for a field application as the material holding container will become highly charged, usually if a isolation stand is used the equipment is completely locked down until it can be discharged prior to interaction with the holding container.

What does electrostatic charging help with when spraying ?

Electrostatically applying a material from disinfectant to paint allows for more efficient application, particularly to surfaces that are round.    This can be helpful with things like table legs and other circular objects.  Electrostatic can also help cut down on overspray (a term meaning material going on unintended areas). 


What are the drawbacks of electrostatic spraying?

The downside to electrostatic painting is a few things.  One, relative to non electrostatic sprayer it is much more expensive.  Additionally electrostatic sprayers have a phenomenon called far-a-day cage.  Far-a-day cage results from the tendency of a charged substance to seek the nearest ground.  This means that if you are spraying a corner the material will tend to go to the edges rather than into the corner.

Finally, is the issue that can exist at least with paint sprayers where highly conductive solutions like disinfectants tend to dissipate the charge and ground out resulting in no charge being applied to the material and no benefit of electrostatic spraying.


What is required for electrostatic spraying to work with disinfectant?

Since electrostatic spraying works by the principal that a material with a charge will seek the nearest ground, to spray electrostatically you need to be able to effectively charge the material and have a target that can be properly grounded.  While there are ways to help apply a charge to a material that can tend to be conductive, and some sprayers on the market are able to effectively charge disinfectant a grounded surface is still a important requirement. 

For a surface to be able to be grounded it typically has to be a material that is conductive and has a path to the earth.   From a practical standpoint this means that even if a disinfectant can be charged, it may not wrap or attract to all surfaces that are needing disinfected because certain materials are not conductive (like plastics or wood).  However because a sprayer will still spray even though a electrostatic charge is not being applied, you will still get disinfectant on the intended surface if you directly aim at the surface.

What kinds of disinfectant can be used against Covid-19?

The EPA has made a list of approved disinfectants  here.  When it comes to spraying a given disinfectant an airless sprayer will create particles that are about 80 microns in size, which you can check with the disinfectant manufacturer that your going to consider using to ensure that is a small enough particle size to properly apply there disinfectant.

Will spraying disinfectant leave behind an odor or residue?

Some disinfectant can have an odor and/or leave a residue. To determine if this will be a problem for a given disinfectant the disinfectant manufacturer will be able to help you. 

Do you have to wipe the surface down after the disinfectant is applied?

Most disinfectants can be sprayed and will not requiring wiping though some may require wiping due to a residue or due to the potential for a particular disinfectant to harm surfaces, for specifics most disinfectants will have documentation to help answer this further.

Alternatives to electrostatic spraying of disinfectants

While our electrostatic paint sprayers will not effectively work for disinfectants we have been able to effectively use a Titan 440 airless sprayer with a HEA tip, misting pressure washers, and Graco units that offer a few similar options.  Below are a few videos showing each option as well as a link to the different options available .  Other options on the market from other vendors include backpack sprayers and similar solutions.

 Live office disinfecting demonstration

this was done with a Titan 440 and HEA tips



There are also Pressure washer misters from MITM which can be seen below, 


Other options include the new products released by Graco which include a variety of options from handheld units to others that are like paint sprayers but with updated seals to better tolerate the chemical composition of disinfectants.

How much disinfectant will an airless sprayer use in an area?

The amount of disinfectant that will be needed for an area can vary a decent bit, in general it is being suggested that coarse fiber areas (areas with covering like carpet and similar surfaces) have more disinfectant applied, while hard surface areas like tile floor and similar surfaces will require a bit less material.  While having an exact amount of material needed will be a bit difficult to have an exact estimate on, in our field trial we have covered about 600-800 square feet with around ½ to ¾ of a gallon of disinfectant. 

Will an airless sprayer use more disinfectant to clean an area than other options?

The amount of disinfectant used may be more than some other products like the electrostatic backpack sprayers, this is due to the electrostatic charge that some backpack sprayers have integrated and the slower material released.  However we have not had a the opportunity to field test a backpack sprayer and cannot give any feedback on a first hand basis.  Additionally it will depend a lot on the method of disinfecting that is used which can be largely dependent on the disinfectant that you select, some disinfectants could require heavier amounts applied than others.

How long will it take to disinfect an area with an airless sprayer?

One of the big benefits to using an airless sprayer compared to using other alternatives is the speed which you can disinfect an area.  We have been able to do about 800 square feet in 8 to 10 minutes.  The speed which an airless can effectively apply disinfectant is one of the big advantages.

How long will it take for disinfectant to dry?

The dry time of disinfectants can depend on the disinfectants used.  In general our experience with the disinfectants we have sprayed in the field is dry time was about 5 to 10 minutes.  

Additional steps to consider for spraying disinfectant

  • If using a paint like sprayer ensure to properly flush the unit right after you complete your work to ensure the disinfectant doesn’t negatively impact the sprayer.  Additionally the sprayer should ideally stay outside of the area being actively disinfected if it has a hose with it, this is to best ensure the sprayer and disinfectant container do not get contaminated.
  • Consult with disinfectant manufacturers about the suitability of a paint sprayer or other equipment to spray disinfectant.  THE HEA tip produces about a 80 micron max particle size, generally it seems disinfectant manufacturers want small particles to be produced by the spray equipment used.
  • Consult with the disinfectant producer about the need for a respirator and other proper PPE each disinfectant will have its own requirements.
  • Consult with disinfectant provider on the danger of using disinfectant on different surfaces like electronics, stainless steel, and other surfaces some products have a tendency to streak or leave marks on various surfaces.
  • Ensure you follow the application requirements of the disinfectant manufacturer to ensure the amount of disinfectant applied is appropriate, the dwell time is appropriate, and any additional steps required are followed.
  • Confirm with your disinfectant provider that there are no issues with a equipment choice to apply disinfectant. 

By leveraging these practical tips you will be better prepared to ensure safe, effective spraying of disinfectant.


Wrapping up

By understanding the principals of electrostatic spraying, the benefits it brings, the options to spray disinfectant, and important steps to consider before beginning spraying you can know the different options and better choose what type of equipment as well as what type of disinfectants will be best suited to safely and effectively disinfect an area.  If you need further info feel free to send us a message.


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