By Don Ford

(CBS SF) — It may look like something right out of Star Wars but, it’s actually the latest tool to help fight the coronavirus.

Electrostatic sprayers are increasingly being used to clean surfaces that may have been contaminated. The sprayers apply an electrostatic charge to disinfectant solution during application.

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“We are positively charging a chemical as it comes through a nozzle,” said Hotsy Pacific Industrial Cleaning Solutions President Jim O’Connel explained. “In our world, everything else is a negative charge, so it basically gets the positive attracted to the negative and the chemical attaches to the product.”

The idea is simple: static electricity creates the attraction much like clothes out of a dryer, or a balloon when you rub it on your hair, only it’s a lifesaving disinfectant.

Using bleach wipes or simple power washing is simply not enough these days. Electrostatic disinfecting is quickly becoming the preferred method to ensure safety.

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United Airlines is using it to reach all the small nooks and crannies that are normally hard to reach. San Francisco Muni and AC Transit are also using it to disinfect buses.

Hotsy Pacific Sales Manager Michael Coleman says they can’t keep these special sprayers in stock. “The demand for this has been unreal once people started paying attention to disinfecting,” said Coleman.

While designed for commercial use, it can be used at home. “Anybody can buy these,” said Coleman. “Right now, our earliest delivery will be somewhere around the end of May.”

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The retail price is for a cordless, professional electrostatic sprayer is about $1,000.