Using established technologies in innovative ways can help long-term care facilities navigate the “new normal” of clean needed to meet pandemic and post-pandemic standards.

Electrostatic sprayers can help facilities disinfect large areas in far less time than would be required when using manual trigger spray and wiping methods. This is particularly important in long-term care facilities, where residents live in close quarters, share common areas and use shared mobile equipment such as wheelchairs. 

The most important considerations when choosing an electrostatic sprayer are sprayer design, system safety, ease of use and proof of performance. Pair the electrostatic sprayer with Environmental Protection Agency-registered disinfectants and sanitizers that also have language on the master label listing electrostatic spraying as an approved application method. For use against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, choose disinfectants on the  EPA’s List N. For use against Clostridium difficile, choose disinfectants on the EPA’s List K.

Sprayer Design 

The two basic types of electrostatic sprayers that exist today are A/C powered sprayers (i.e., sprayers that plug into an outlet) and battery powered sprayers. A/C power provides consistent, reliable droplet charge that results in consistent, reliable product performance. The power in batteries can fluctuate and diminish during spraying, resulting in reduced surface coverage and unreliable performance. Delivering disinfectant to all surfaces of intended targets is particularly important when treating complex objects like wheelchairs that can be difficult to clean manually. 

System safety

Specific disinfectants should be assessed with specific sprayers to determine personal protective equipment requirements for the operator and to make sure there is no re-entry time for bystanders. Also, consider whether solutions are ready-to-use or if they require dilution prior to use. Dilutable products can be less expensive than ready-to-use products, but they add extra time and labor into the application process and increase the potential for human error, which in turn could pose an increased safety risk if mixed or used improperly. 

Ease of use

Whichever device and disinfectant combination you choose, ensure the manufacturer can provide training for your personnel. They should also be able to provide the SDS for each disinfectant recommended for use with the sprayer, including information on the appropriate PPE to wear during use. Devices should be ergonomically designed so that operators can use them comfortably throughout the course of their shift.

System performance

It’s important to consider whether an electrostatic sprayer delivers everything it claims. Both manufacturer testing and real world testing are important factors that can demonstrate a system’s performance. Manufacturer testing could include efficacy testing in a laboratory, surface compatibility testing, object wrap demonstration and surface coverage rates. Real world testing could include cost-benefit analysis, efficacy confirmation, compatibility with surfaces in a facility and impact on outcomes like patient infection rates, as suggested by an evaluation of rapid decontamination of portable equipment and open areas published in the American Journal of Infection Control earlier this year.

Electrostatic spray technology is more than a device — it’s a system. Before purchasing an electrostatic sprayer, consider whether the technology you are investing in is safe, trusted and proven. A technology that performs as intended can help long-term care facilities demonstrate a commitment to providing a safe environment for both residents and staff. 

For more information on selecting electrostatic spray technology and disinfection in long-term care, including COVID-19, see the following resources:

Katherine Velez, PhD, is a senior scientist with Clorox Healthcare.