Disinfectant Sprayer Comparison

Comparing Electrostatic, Airless and Other Spraying Methods When Applying Disinfectants

With the COVID-19 pandemic dominating the globe, the demand for disinfecting and sanitising equipment is at an all time high. During this unprecedented time, many non-essential businesses around the world have been asked to close their doors in the effort to help reduce virus transmissions.

As businesses, schools and other public spaces begin to reopen, maintenance leadership in these organisations will be challenged with the need to address new cleaning standards and stricter and more frequent cleaning requirements. As part of this shift, the demand for effective disinfecting equipment solutions that provide maximum productivity and efficiency will only continue to increase.

As businesses and organisations look to meet this need, a more detailed understanding of disinfectant equipment solutions is necessary to make the right choice that will meet the productivity and safety needs associated with disinfecting, sanitising and deodorising applications.


Spray Bottles & Pump Sprayers for Disinfectants

Before the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, basic disinfectant pump sprayers or simple spray bottles have been the go-to sprayers for disinfecting, sanitising and deodorising applications. While still important, these applications were likely neither as large in scope nor under the type of scrutiny that exists in today’s new reality for maintenance service managers tasked with providing environments that are safe for occupancy.


Spray bottles and pump sprayers for disinfectants have been the most popular cleaning tools used for disinfecting and sanitising applications. For the most part, these are inexpensive cleaning solutions that are readily available and easy to use – requiring little training or on-boarding for the maintenance staff tasked with carrying out these applications.


While these solutions may provide an initial savings on acquisition costs, their level of productivity leaves much to be desired. Operators will experience a slow, manual process that delivers inconsistent material coverage – often resulting in unwanted drips and runs that require an additional step to wipe sprayed areas to adequately cover potentially contaminated surfaces. Increased operator fatigue also plays a role, due to the amount of times operators are pulling and holding the trigger and constant refilling of small reservoirs – especially on spaces with larger surface areas.


Disinfectant Fogging Machines

Fogging sprayers, or a “fogger” as it is sometimes called, uses a fine spray to apply a chemical solution, typically for pest or deodorising control applications. With the recent pandemic and the growing need to effectively clean many community spaces, these sprayers are now being used for sanitising and disinfecting applications.


Gas powered fogging sprayers provide the ability to cover large open areas quickly. These sprayers are offered in portable configurations, which makes them a logical choice for disinfecting jobs requiring greater manoeuvrability.


Since the fogging process relies on filling air inside an isolated room with disinfectant mist, it is difficult to ensure proper coverage is achieved on all surfaces. This uncertainty makes it difficult to ensure cleaning dwell times required by disinfectant manufacturers for effective applications are met. Additionally, the fogging process is relatively slow compared to other disinfectant sprayer solutions ­– in part due to the time needed to properly seal a room and air ducts in order to provide optimal application conditions.


Airless Disinfectant Sprayers

In order to meet more demanding disinfecting and sanitising applications, new high-pressure airless disinfectant spraying equipment has been recently developed to provide faster, more complete coverage of disinfectants.


These new disinfectant sprayers use the power of high-pressure airless spraying to deliver the highest speed and productivity when applying disinfectant materials. The higher flow rates and larger material reservoirs help reduce operator fatigue over the course of larger disinfecting applications.

Some models provide greater application flexibility with interchangeable tips and adjustable pressure. This allows operators to switch between high production or fine spray methods that may be needed to achieve the desired atomisation and complete coverage to meet chemical dwell time requirements.


The heightened need for effective disinfecting applications has created a rapid influx of new equipment solutions. However, effectively applying a disinfectant properly is surprisingly complex and requires tools specifically designed and built for disinfectant applications.

Existing airless paint equipment has been touted as a solution for disinfecting applications. However, this equipment lacks the proper internal materials of construction and components designed to interact with many of the harsh chemicals found in disinfectant materials. Without proper construction materials, internal corrosion of critical internal components can lead to tool failure and operator hazards – especially when used over a longer period of time.

Additionally, these re-purposed tools often use too much or too little pressure when dispensing the disinfectants. Tools with lower spray pressures (80 psi) don’t have enough power to deliver the coverage needed while spraying with too much pressure (3,000 psi) can over-atomise disinfectant chemicals. This can potentially cause harm to the applicator and/or people nearby. Incomplete coverage and over-atomisation can reduce surface contact dwell times and ultimately lead to improper surface decontamination.


Electrostatic Airless Disinfectant Sprayers

Electrostatic spraying of paints has been around since the 1940s and is the preferred method for the effective coating of metal surfaces including railings, gates, banisters, metal doors, industrial equipment, fencing and pipes.

When tasked with higher levels of productivity and larger disinfecting jobs, it is not uncommon for maintenance staff to look to electrostatic disinfectant equipment. These solutions provide a positive charge to the disinfecting solution as it exits the spray nozzle. The charged particles are attracted to a grounded surface (or a surface with a neutral electrical condition), providing a “wrap” effect around all sides of the surface. 

Until recently, most electrostatic disinfectant equipment in-use today propels the disinfectant chemicals with a low-pressure airless spray. Some new electrostatic sprayers combine a high-pressure spray along with a higher electrostatic charge for superior material delivery and coverage.


With the charged disinfectant particles designed to repel each other and adhere to uncoated surfaces, electrostatic disinfectant sprayers can provide better coverage on complex objects with multiple surfaces.

Newer high-pressure electrostatic sprayers provide more powerful material projection and particle charging for faster application speeds. These sprayers provide up to 1,000 psi of spraying power and performance that delivers more consistent coverage of disinfectants, while reducing labour and material costs, to provide a high-production disinfectant solution that makes fast work of any disinfecting job, large or small.

To help ensure proper grounding of the sprayer for optimal performance, some new electrostatic airless disinfectant sprayers have multiple grounding points. These include a grounding bar on the sprayer handle and additional grounding straps that will work when operators are wearing PPE, such as gloves when spray-applying disinfectants.


Electrostatic spraying has typically been used in a controlled environment, such as a paint spray booth. Without adequate grounding, the natural attraction of electrons and neutrons will be minimised and result in a limited wrap effect of the disinfectant material on the surface being sprayed.

In addition to inadequate grounding, the wrap effect provided by electrostatic sprayers can vary greatly depending on the actual charge and the type of surface and the distance away from the surface sprayed. Many electrostatic disinfectant sprayers provide a limited charge. This lower power and minimal charge can result in incomplete and inconsistent surface coating that fails to meet required dwell times across the entire surface being treated.

Most electrostatic sprayers also use a low-flow or low-pressure delivery method and don’t have the spraying power to the project the material far from the sprayer – often less than one metre. In addition to much slower application speeds, these low-pressure electrostatic sprayers must rely on operators taking the extra time to adequately apply the material and the electrostatic particle charging aspect of the sprayer to completely cover the surface being sprayed.

Finally, electrostatic disinfectant sprayers limit the types of disinfectant materials that can be used as these sprayers are not compatible with alcohol-based disinfectants due to the risk of flammability.