Last week Meritech CTO and hygiene expert, Paul Barnhill, lead a the webinar The Science Behind CleanTech®: How Automated Handwashing Stations Work. We hope you were able to join the webinar, and we want to thank everyone who participated in the discussion!
If you were not able to join the session live, you may download the webinar recording here.
At the end of our webinar, we had an extensive Q&A session and wanted to relay those questions and answers into more digestible content. If you have further questions please contact us!
CleanTech® Efficacy Questions:
A 20 second hand wash is recommended by agencies to be effective. How can CleanTech® handwashing stations wash hands in 12 seconds as effectively as a manual wash that takes 20-30 seconds?
When comparing manual to automated handwashing the biggest difference is the human behavior, every time someone washes their hands they do it differently. Most people really don’t rub their hands together and really work up a lather, getting all the parts of the hands efficiently. Some people use too much soap, others not enough. Many handwashing sinks on the market have water flow too low to effectively flush the pathogens off the skin.
Automation removes the human behavior issues and allows both science and engineering to take over. The CleanTech® automated handwashing station has 40 nozzles (20 per hand) that are placed in such a way that 100% of the hand is covered. There are 8 nozzles at the wrist that direct all the water downward to prevent splashing. The next group of nozzles are designed in a helical pattern with both pitch and roll to force pathogens down and off your hand. The last 4 nozzles are directed at the fingertips. The cylinder turns around your hand 23 times in 12 seconds allowing the spraying nozzles to get in to all the cracks and crevasses of the skin with both the soapy water (6 seconds) and then a potable water rinse (6 seconds) pulling all the pathogens off the hand like a tornado. This spray pattern in combination with our proprietary hygiene solution chemistry are specially designed to work with the correct volume of water for more than 99.9% of pathogen removal. Each hand wash event is identical, thus removing the human variable and 100% of the water used in Meritech automated handwashing system is used to wash the hands, thus zero waste.
Even though the time is shorter it was done by leveraging engineering, science, & chemistry to work together to create the most effective and fastest hand wash. Check out these clinical studies looking at the efficacy of CleanTech®.
How does CleanTech® replace the scrubbing action of a manual hand wash?
We’re replacing that scrubbing action or that friction of rubbing two hands together during a manual handwash with 40 jet nozzles, 20 per hand, that are designed in an optimal pattern to be able to remove pathogens. As the cylinder rotates around the hand the jets spray onto the hand and get into the cracks and crevices of the hand to remove the pathogens. See CleanTech® in action here.
Does CleanTech® wash the fingers and fingernails?
CleanTech® does wash the fingers, there’s actually 4 nozzles per hand that are a higher velocity of water spray to get all the pathogens off of our fingertips. To get debris under the fingernails a brush should be used, in food environments especially fingernails should be trimmed short to prevent build up of soils under the fingernails so they can easily be cleaned and freed of pathogens. See CleanTech® in action here.
Does CleanTech® wash AND sanitize the hands?
Yes it does. We are washing and sanitizing the hands all in one 12-second cycle eliminating the use of hand sanitizers after a manual handwashing process.
Can CleanTech® be used with heavy soils?
When you’re dealing with heavy soils, ideally you should be using a disposable glove. That way when the glove comes off, it goes into a waste bin and those debris don’t end up in the sink and promote pathogen growth. If you’re not using gloves, use a paper towel to get those debris into a waste bin, so they don’t end up in the sink. Then once hands are free of excess debris, the CleanTech® system can be used to remove those 99.9% of pathogens.
CleanTech® Mechanics Questions:
How much water is used during one 12-second cycle?
6/10ths of a gallon is used in each wash cycle. An important note to make is that when washing your hands manually about 60% of the water used never even touches the hands. With CleanTech® 100% of the water used touches your hand and assists in pathogen removal.
How is no water wasted using CleanTech®?
With traditional manual handwashing methods, much of the water used actually goes down the drain as you’re scrubbing your hands for the proper length of time. With a CleanTech® system 100% of the water used touches the hands, so zero water is wasted.
Can CleanTech® cycle time be increased for my facility?
While CleanTech® cycle time can be adjusted, we have found that with our 12-second cycle stations remove more than 99.9% of harmful pathogens, therefore we do not see benefit from a longer cycle.
Does the CleanTech® system heat the water?
No, the systems do not heat the water so you’ll have to have a hot water source for the system. However, all service engineers are trained to identify water temperature concerns, address these, and give recommendations on the best practices to maintain the ideal water temperature. You can contact them here.
How does the handwashing counters work (master and resettable)?
We’re really counting every single hygiene event with the CleanTech® system. The master counter gives you a collective number of hygiene events performed for the specific machine. The optional resettable counter brings the counter back to zero with a simple push of a button to give hygiene managers a resettable data point to check that employees are following hygiene SSOPs without having to police the behavior and have that data to adapt hygiene protocols appropriately.
What are the basic utility requirements for the CleanTech®
To use CleanTech®, you’ll need a hot water source, a cold water source and standard one and half inch drain and a standard power outlet. If you have the wetted boot dip enhancement, you’ll need the floor drain for that. If you do not have a floor drain, we can help with alternative draining options.
Can the CleanTech® system be adapted for international utilities?
We actually provide an international adaptor kit with each CleanTech® system that will adapt for the plumbing requirements. If you’re in another country we will automatically adapt the system to work with international utilities. Internally the systems are running at 12 volt DC so a very low voltage and in that we have a universal power supply that converts any voltage down to that 12 volt DC.
How do you train staff to use a CleanTech® system and how is that different than teaching manual handwashing?
One of the key aspects of using a CleanTech® system versus a traditional sink is really the simplistic method of training. Training with a CleanTech® really only takes about 12-seconds, the length of an automated handwash cycle. One of the pitfalls with traditional hand hygiene is the constant reassurance that you have to give. The teaching and training and retraining as well as the challenge of doing that in multiple languages. With CleanTech® systems it’s 100% visual so it’s very easy to follow. You just stand there, put your hands in the system and in 12-seconds you have clean hands!
What is the cost per hand wash using a CleanTech® system?
The cost per hand wash varies between $0.05 – $0.09 per hand wash depending on additional features or enhancements you may include and whether you purchase a service agreement for routine maintenance and calibration.
Hygiene Solutions for CleanTech® Questions:
How does the self-cleaning feature work in the CleanTech® system?
Meritech has developed a proprietary SelfClean solution that is specifically designed to sanitize the interior of our high-throughput industrial CleanTech® models. This high pH surface cleaner automatically runs throughout the system, for 20 seconds, three times per day or when the system power is turned on to provide low-maintenance prevention for the growth of dangerous pathogens in the system and facility. The solution will actually run throughout the entire plumbing tree from the solutions injection point all the way through the cylinders and down through the system drain to shock and kill any pathogens and prevent mineral buildup.
Why can’t I use someone else’s soap in the CleanTech® system?
Using someone else’s soap compromises the efficacy of the CleanTech® handwashing station and your facility’s hygiene. Meritech has performed over 50 efficacy studies to give you data on how effective our hygiene solutions are at removing pathogens when used in the CleanTech® handwashing stations. You will not get that same level of 99.9% pathogen removal that is backed by data with other soaps.
How many hand wash cycles does the hygiene solution provide?
For each two and half gallon container of UltraPure hygiene solution you will get approximately 1,800 hand washes. With a CleanTech 2000 and 4000 that uses the SelfClean solution during the self-cleaning cycle you may get slightly less handwashes. This is because after the self-cleaning cycle the system actually uses a bit of the UltraPure solution to make sure that there’s no chance of that high PPM SelfClean solution of coming into contact with human skin.
Is the hygiene solution environmentally friendly / biodegradable?
Our hygiene solutions are a proprietary formulation that contain skin conditioners and quat-based antimicrobial sanitizing chemical proven to be very effective in removing pathogens and promoting long-term skin health while also meeting and exceeding regulatory environments. Plus, since our station minimizes water and solutions waste, it presents a better option for the environment in minimizing the ‘handwashing footprint.’
CleanTech® Enhancements Questions:
Does the CleanTech® system dry hands?
Meritech recommends the use of single-use paper towels to dry hands. However, we do have an air curtain enhancement that is compatible with our 500EZ, 2000S and 4000S models that at the end of every wash cycle, a curtain of compressed air blows onto the hands to partially dry them, reducing paper towel waste. It is ideal for companies seeking a “greener” footprint while maintaining sanitary standards that other dryers can’t match.
General Hand Hygiene Questions:
Do you need to wash hands if you are using gloves?
Yes! Wearing gloves does not remove the need for handwashing. A hand hygiene event should happen prior to donning gloves. Gloves can have unseen defects or can be torn during use, providing a point of contact for the skin. In addition, bacteria can multiply rapidly in moist environments underneath gloves. We should also note that just like your skin, gloved hands can pick up germs so it is important to perform an additional hand hygiene event after donning gloves. To serve this need we offer a continuous walkthrough station that automatically sanitizes gloved hands and any type of footwear.
Why would you want to remove pathogens when you could kill them?
The skin is your largest organ, and the things used to kill harmful pathogens will also damage if you do not take proper care of your skin. The action of removing pathogens with soap and water is much more forgiving to your hands when compared to killing pathogens with alcohol-based sanitizers. Read more on the topic of skin health in this post.
How does water temperature affect handwash efficacy?
Temperature does not affect the efficacy of handwashing events. The water temperature human hands can handle maxes out at around 105º F which the vast majority of pathogens can survive. Where water temperature comes into play is with compliance. People are more likely to wash their hands well and for the recommended amount of time if the water is comfortable.
Are air hand dryers the recommended method for drying after a hand hygiene event?
No, Meritech recommends single-use paper towels. The reason air dryers are not recommended, particularly when it comes to COVID-19 which is spread through micro-droplets, is if someone is coughing or sneezing in the area, a high-velocity dryer will pick up that droplet and deposit it onto hands that were just washed.