Beware of 'COVID Cowboy' Disinfection Companies

December 21, 2020

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If you were to travel back in time five to 10 years ago, you'd realize the number of disinfection companies has surged dramatically compared to today. Suddenly, many companies have emerged from the woodwork and claim to be experts in the industry. Armed with diluted bleach and a cheap sprayer, these "COVID cowboys" are plaguing the industry with false COVID kill claims and a lack of education in pathogen remediation.

As a consumer or someone looking to invest in a disinfection company, hiring or partnering with these inexperienced companies is an avoidable mistake. For that reason, we're going to shed light on these "COVID cowboys" who are riding the coronavirus wave looking to make a quick buck at your expense, making false claims, and potentially putting you or your spaces in harm's way.

Avoid Companies Riding the Coronavirus Wave

It seems that with every global disaster, there's always someone out there trying to exploit a terrible situation through a dark silver lining. In the case of the pandemic, disinfection companies with little to no previous company history are claiming to be experts and putting homes, business, and their occupants at risk.

These new players lack the experience and expertise it takes to understand the relationship between microorganisms and chemical disinfectants. So, we're going to break down a shortlist of red flags that you should be looking out for when hiring or partnering with these newcomers.

Image With a Red Flag With a Caption Left That Reads, '6 Red Flags to Look Out For When Hiring or Partnering With a Disinfection Company'

6 Red Flags to Be Aware Of

Red Flag #1: The first thing you want to look for in a company is how long they have been established in the industry. If the company is as new as COVID-19, you might want to rethink hiring or partnering with such a company. Some of these companies may not have the knowledge, experience, equipment, and qualifications to disinfect environments properly. This puts homes and businesses at risk and can hinder the industry with inexperienced players.

Red Flag #2: Containing a virus involves preventing the threat and spread of infectious diseases. Experienced technicians will wear appropriate and necessary PPE and not show up in unprofessional gear. Exposed surfaces, equipment, and fabrics, for example, are prime opportunities for a virus to spread from a technician wearing very little PPE onto other surfaces. These "COVID cowboys" might be reusing un-sanitized PPE from a previous job, furthering the spread of germs instead of killing them. A technician should at least be wearing disposable PPE (gloves, shoe covers, eyewear, mask, etc) to help prevent the threat and spread of germs in an area of concern.

Red Flag #3: As you do your research online, you want to look for companies that only use EPA-registered products that are on the List N of disinfectants. If you call and ask a company if their products are on the "N" list and they say, "What's that?" hang up immediately.

Disinfectants are usually chemicals and the EPA has an extensive list of reviewed chemical disinfectants that they have approved for use against pathogens of concern. You want to cross-reference the company you're looking into with the EPA's list of disinfectants to see if their products are listed. Reputable companies will post their product's Safety Data Sheet online or will provide it when asked.

Red Flag #4: Avoid "COVID cowboy" companies who aren't following the EPA guidelines and who are making false claims. The EPA is authorized to take legal action against companies who do so. The EPA even monitors sanitizing and disinfecting companies' websites, social media platforms, and other areas where false advertising and unapproved claims are being communicated to the general public. These are the companies you should avoid partnering with or hiring. If their product isn't registered on the List N of disinfectants to kill COVID and their advertising claims they do, run away!

Red Flag #5: A company that uses a poor choice of disinfectant and equipment will lead to negative results. For example, some companies out there use conventional pump sprayers filled with a diluted bleach solution to service customers. Now there may be nothing wrong with disinfecting a small object with a traditional pump sprayer, but it's an inadequate piece of equipment to sanitize and disinfect an entire office space or large home. Foggers are another piece of equipment that companies use, and it passively delivers droplets onto surfaces, which can be affected by gravity so it may result in uneven coverage.

You want a company that uses electrostatic sprayers as their main method of dispersing solutions because it wraps around surfaces and objects with an even coating of disinfectant. On top of that, you want a company that uses solutions that won't put others in harm's way or even your things because some chemical disinfectants can damage surfaces.

"COVID cowboy" companies that use diluted bleach, for example, can cause irreversible damage to objects and surfaces and discolor them too. Moreover, not all disinfectants are the same, and some disinfectants aren't effective at treating a broad spectrum of germs, viruses, and bacteria in an environment. So, choose a company that uses the best products for every situation and the right means of dispersing them.

Red Flag #6: People choose disinfection companies because they care about the wellbeing of others and want to provide a safe space. They also choose disinfection companies because they have the "experience" to perform a stellar job, right? Wrong! Proper disinfection specialists know how long solutions have to dwell for and how to apply them because they are trained in doing so.

An experienced technician will also ensure that the areas he or she is treating have been properly cleaned first because this sets the stage for disinfection. Then, as they move into areas of concern, they are applying disinfectants in a smooth, slow and stable "S" pattern to avoid overspray starting from the top to the bottom.

This allows for an electrostatically sprayed disinfectant with a positive charge to attach to negatively charged objects and surfaces seamlessly. Once 10 minutes have passed, the technicians will then wipe any residues left (if any). Lastly, every company's approach to disinfecting is different, but the most thorough companies actually test surfaces for microbial activity before and after their services are complete to validate their work. Not all sanitizing and disinfecting services are the same.

Choose the Right Path

Some people out there have no idea how much training and education are required to get into the surface disinfectant industry. "COVID cowboy" companies are going down a path that could land them into legal repercussions and may even hurt themselves or others. So, if you're looking to get into the industry or looking for disinfection services, then consider a company that uses EPA List N registered products, is bonded and insured, knows what they're doing, and has all the training and support they need from a board of scientific advisors.

An Image Saying What Sets Germinator Apart Is Our Technology, Proven Methods, and the Education We Provide. It Shows Technicians Testing Surfaces for ATP and Applying Sanitizing and Disinfecting Solutions
A company such as Germinator fulfills all those needs and more. We utilize the best products, and our methods are unparalleled to the run of the mill "COVID cowboy" companies out there. Our sanitizing and disinfecting approach is detailed because we verify and log microbial activity levels on surfaces as a benchmark before treatment. Once we perform our sanitizing and disinfecting treatments, we retest to validate our results to ensure our work is at a level of hospital-grade disinfection.

If you're looking for disinfection services, then feel free to visit and find a location near you. If you're looking to be a part of a socially conscious organization whose mission is to help others protect their homes and businesses, then fill out the form below to connect with a franchise specialist.

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