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Posted by Chuck Shipp on 3/20/2020

Let us start here with the fact that detergents breakdown proteins. The Covid-19 virus has a protein shell that protects it. Any approved tent cleaner is going to be on the alkaline side of the pH scale and will breakdown the shell coating and will spill out the mycroplasma. It will be dead and gone. Soap and water on your hands is much better eliminator of the virus on your hands than the gel sanitizers. Soap acts as a medium that clings to the detergent and washes down the drain. If a hand soap is strong enough, it may even breakdown the shell and kill it as well. So simply put, your normal tent cleaner will do the job. The catch is handling the tent to get it to that point. As I talked with Fred at Fred's Tents, he decided to clean them on the spot before take down. Maybe  long handle brushes and hoses to rinse. Be sure to apply the cleaner to the dry fabric first. DO NOT PRE-WET WITH WATER. The virus will cling to the detergent or be broken down. Pre-wetting with water protects the surface from the detergent.  Here is another counter-intuitive tip. Apply from the bottom of the side walls or the bottom of the tent top spraying up to the top peak of the tent. If you start spraying from the top with the cleaner, which most people do, it will leave clean streaks. The dilution should be stronger than normal. Up to 1 part cleaner to 15 parts water is a good starting point. That equates to 8 ounces per gallon of water.  After the on site cleaning your crew will be safe to handle the top as normal. Even then, when the tent is brought back, a more thorough cleaning should be done. 

Some people cannot grasp this concept on detergents and may still demand a disinfectant. That is problematic because there is huge shortage and back log of demand. The product we sell for inflatibles is a very high grade hospital disinfectant with a corona virus rating. However, we do not know how quickly it kills Covid-19 because it has not been tested. As I stated on an article on FB under Shipp Chemical Co., Inc., a good safe dwell time is at least two minutes. That means it stays wet for two minutes. So if any tent rental ops can find at their local janitorial supply store a quaternary disinfectant that is a very confident kill and it does not harm the vinyl. If that cannot be found we drop back and punt with bleach and just know it will rob the plasticizers and make the tent less flexible. Desperate times call for desperate measures. The dwell/wet time probably should be at least 10 minutes although we have not seen anything from the EPA on that yet. The dilution is 3 ounces to a gallon of water. 

Tents setup at medical sites should be treated as contaminated! Cleaning on site, if possible, from a distance is the best way to protect your tent crew.