News Column

Activeion: Perhaps the Greenest Green Cleaner

June 15, 2009


activeion cleaner, green cleaner, green technology
Photo by Matt Graves,

While even big chemical companies are slowly tiptoeing into the field of green, like Clorox with its 'Green Works' line, there is a a company that is trying to truly revolutionize the notion of green cleaning. It's innovative solution? Omitting chemicals altogether.

Activeion is a handheld device that looks like a space-age spray bottle, sanitizes and cleans stains with . . . water. Though that may sound unsanitary and downright ineffective, but it actually works. Activeion Pro transforms that plain tap water into an extremely effective cleaner. It sends water through a pump that electrically charges the water then pushes it through an ion exchange membrane. The purpose of the latter is to separate the electrified water into positive and negative ions. When sprayed, those ions bond with dirt particles, which makes the dirt much easier to remove. The science is actually incredibly simple and simply ingenious.

"All dirt particles have a charge, that's actually how chemical cleaners really work and that's how they attract dirt," explained Todd Schaeffer, VP and General Manager of Activeion Cleaning Solutions. With Activeion, Schaeffer goes onto explain, the water acts as a way a chemical would because it is charged, but because it is still just water it is entirely toxin-free and chemical free.

Before using the Activeion spray bottle for the first time, one needs to charge it for a few hours. The rechargeable batteries come already inside the unit; no assembly necessary, and no need to throw away and replace disposables (positive environmental point number two). Next, the user fills it up with cold water straight from the faucet and goes to work immediately. The bottle looks like a drill from Star Wars because it lights up green when sprayed. According to Schaeffer, the water will balance out to its normal state after about 30 to 45 seconds. It's a neat device exciting to hold and use, but the real test, of course, is whether it cleans well.

To be entirely fair in the trial, I used a wet sponge on the dirty surfaces first, as to make sure I was tackling a tough stain. First attempt: a dark black scuff on the bottom of a door. The sponge with regular water did nothing; but after spraying with the Activeion Pro, the sponge was able to clean it handily.
"When people first experience this [device], they have that 'wow factor'," said Schaeffer, and I knew what he meant -- the green glow, the mild vibration, the soft-yet-industrial sound really engaged me in the cleaning process, and the successful result made it more than a gimmick.

My quest continued with increasingly harder stains. The toaster oven's glass door -- brown from years of singing -- was a little tougher. But the Activeion was still victorious.

"On most substances and most types of dirt it proves to be a better cleaner [than other cleaning agents]. And even though [chemical free cleaners] are green they still leave residue and streaks," said Schaeffer. "You will remove that haze completely and you will have zero streaks but with chemicals, you will always leave a little behind, and that builds up. The greenest chemicals are made from natural oils but a lot of them still have chemicals in them."

"The inventor of Activeion came up with the idea after he wanted to clean the glass cage of his chinchilla but didn't want to do so with harsh chemicals. He did some research, found a version of the technology, bought it, and reformed it," Shaeffer explained. Activeion leases the patent for the product from a company called Tennant.

Activeion is pretty heavy duty and isn't cheap--it costs $299. And though one can be purchased for home use, Activeion is more designed for commercial use, such as restaurants and hotels that have professional janitorial teams who clean a lot of things often. The Target Center, where the NBA's Minnesota Timberwolves play, has replaced its industrial cleaners with Activeion, and the company has also partnered with multiple hospitals. While the bottle has a one-year warrantee, it is designed to last for more than 500 charge cycles, or approximately five years if used only once a week.

"This is primarily a cleaner for multiple surfaces. We do have certified tests that show it kills 99.9% of germs, but there are some requirements that would require the use of disinfectants," said Shaeffer. "Most of the time hospitals need disinfectants. They do take it into the patient rooms but only for general cleaning."

For everyday use and from an environmental point of view, Activeion definitely has its head and its heart in the right place. It's useful in everyday, even heavy-duty, cleaning, and safe -- in fact, you can safely spray it in your mouth (video proof is on the company's Web site ). If you can rationalize the price tag, you can hardly find a better, or greener, cleaner..

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