Each system is only as strong as its weakest link. In the green movement — however strong it currently is — the same holds true.

In today's marketplace, there are still cleaning chemicals being produced that contain carcinogens and potentially harmful ingredients. Because of this, cleaners need to educate themselves and protect themselves with the choices they make.

Spray tip safety

One of those choices should be low drift or ultra-low drift spraying tips. Unless you only use a gravity-feed shampoo tank, you will be spraying chemical if you clean carpet.

With the current type of tip, as the pounds per square inch (PSI) increases so does the aerosolization of the water/chemical droplets. I learned this the hard way when using a pump-up sprayer to apply stripper to a small area of tile I was servicing. When the stripper droplets aerosolized, I choked and gagged to the point where I could not stay in the room.

I have cleaned crime scenes for more than 15 years and have experienced some horrible and strong odors, but this was different. It was the chemical attacking my respiratory system, not simply a scent or the off-gassing of a protein breaking down or the scent of a strong cleaner.

Ultra-low drift tips

By accident I came across ultra-low drift tips. I wanted something that looked cool and unique for the spraying system on a carpet cleaning machine I was producing, so I went to other industries that provided spraying components.

After my bad experience with the floor stripper, and since I already had these tips in my shop, I replaced my normal tip with an ultra-low drift type and the results were nothing short of amazing. I sprayed the stripper again and this time I had no difficulties breathing.

That tip made a vast improvement in my comfort and no doubt my health.

I have, unfortunately, seen several people take their last breath in front of me before they died from respiratory issues and cancer, caused by a lifetime of smoking. It took time for them to become sick. The reason for me mentioning this is that the effects of a lifetime of breathing and inhaling a fine mist of cleaning agents can be potentially damaging.

The accumulation of this exposure surely puts you at risk. True, everyone will have a different tolerance to exposure, but why find out the hard way?

Protect yourself

Consider some easy solutions to exposure to the chemicals you use. Change your tips to at least low-drift and, when possible, ultra-low drift.

These tips — if used properly — will reduce or eliminate this potential health risk. Effective ones are found in the pesticide industry. They are used for spraying pesticides on crops and produce a controlled mist. The sprayed solution, due to its size, just does not have the "hang time" in the air.

Tips need to be matched to the pressure you are using. As the pressure climbs, the efficiency of the tip starts to decrease, but are still safer to use. But a proper set up (tip and pressure) works extremely well.

Using safer tips doesn't take much work. You don't need special spray angles or changes in your stroke or sprayer height.

No matter what you decide, do everything you can to protect your health. Remember that your customers are exposed to your cleaning products for a very short time, but you are exposed all day, every day.


John H. Klucznik is a veteran cleaner and is the president of Bonnet Pro, a manufacturer of low-moisture carpet cleaning equipment and products. His website is www.BonnetPro.com and he can be reached at Info@BonnetPro.com.