The use of polycarbonate has become increasingly common in the past few months. Indeed, the COVID-19 crisis has caused an exponential increase in demand for this type of material. Polycarbonate is an ideal material for the fabrication of protective shields, which explains its newfound popularity. Transparent protection shields are used to limit contact in places where the recommended 2-metre distance is impossible to maintain. For this reason, they have quickly become useful tools to reduce the risk of contamination between business, restaurant and medical centre employees and clients.Polycarbonate is not only durable but also extremely resistant to impact (250x more resistant than glass). However, it does have weaknesses and certain precautions must be taken during the cleaning process. Below is a list of simple procedures that can be carried out to avoid damaging the surface and prolong the service life of polycarbonate.
Best cleaning practices:
- Rinsing the sheet with warm water before applying a cleaning product
- Using a gentle cleaner such as dish soap, for example Palmolive, or a similar product
- Using isopropyl alcohol to disinfect to surface only if necessary.
- Using a soft cloth ideally made of microfibres or a non-abrasive sponge to avoid damaging the surface. Polycarbonate tends to scratch easily
- Applying light and even pressure without pressing too hard when cleaning the surface
- Cleaning the surface immediately after applying the cleaning solution to avoid leaving it too long on the surface
- Rinsing the clean surface with warm water to ensure all traces of the cleaning product have been removed
What to avoid:
- Using overly abrasive or alkaline cleaning products.
- Leaving the cleaning solution sit on the polycarbonate surface for too long.
- Cleaning the surface when exposed to UV rays or an important source of heat.
- Using gasoline or any other harsh solvent.
- Scrubbing or applying too much pressure when wiping the surface.
What about acrylic?
Acrylic, often marketed under the name Plexiglass, and polycarbonate, sometimes known as Lexan, are often confused because of their similar appearance. However, they possess a few different properties. For example, acrylic is more rigid than polycarbonate but less resistant to impact and more likely to break. Observing the edge of both materials can also help differentiate them: acrylic has transparent edges, while polycarbonate has bluish ones.
As for cleaning, acrylic can be cleaned much like polycarbonate: by using a microfibre cloth with soapy water or a cleaning product approved by the manufacturer.
*** Please note that in a crisis or in case of emergency, temporary and non-permanent protection shields made of acrylic or polycarbonate can be cleaned using alcohol-containing products. Although these types of cleaners are not recommended for long-term use, it is possible to use them to disinfect these surfaces.
*** The methods suggested in this article are for information purposes only. Always refer to the technical specification sheet of each material to ensure that the cleaning product is suitable.