Grandfather invents 'safe' cleaning agent to disinfect restaurants' indoor playgrounds

Sept. 24, 2015

Parents are often leery of a restaurant play center in an effort to protect their little ones from germs. What they might not know, however, is that there is no industry, state, or federal regulation or set of standards managing the cleanliness of play centers. Tom Luzader, businessman and self-proclaimed “germaphobe,” couldn’t stop thinking about that while he was babysitting one of his seven grandchildren who insisted on wanting to play inside of a fast food restaurant.

The very thought of them crawling around an indoor area where other children were playing, sneezing and rubbing their noses into hands that were on the indoor slide, seemed appalling to him. He was convinced his grandchild was going to come out of the play area with a cold at best. Like any good grandpa, who is also a big proponent of the value of play and need for children to exercise frequently, he, of course, let her play, cringing the whole time.

That’s when he got the idea to create a non-toxic disinfecting system for playscapes that would allow for clean surfaces. He created Elephant Armor, a three-step system to help restaurant and facility owners safely disinfect play areas so effectively, it will kill MRSA, flu, norovirus, and even HIV in 15 minutes, according to a company press release.

How it works

The applicant delivers a coating of Elephant Armor’s proprietary cleaner containing the EPA-approved cleansing agent using a specialized spray bottle and nozzle. No special gear or face masks are required as the active ingredients are non-toxic and contain no heavy scents. The user lets it sit for two minutes and then wipes off excess with a clean cloth. Bacteria and viruses are eradicated from the surface within two minutes of contact with the active ingredient and the whole surface is typically ready for use within 15 minutes, according to the release.

Parent focus group: We'll drive past a QSR with a dirty playarea to visit a QSR with a clean playarea

Prior to creating Elephant Armor multiple focus groups were held. Luzader, who has owned four businesses, spoke with the owners of over 200 QSRs and parents.  Although they were concerned about the bacteria and germ levels, they considered indoor play centers safer than outdoor centers since there is only one way in and out. The mothers almost spoke with a tone of guilt about letting their kids play in a potentially bacteria laden area, but in the hot summers there are not very many options, noted the release. The parents voiced a need for a third-party to monitor the cleanliness of the play centers, similar to how health departments inspect kitchens. A few of the findings were included:

  • Over half, 58 percent of parents and grandparents cleaned play areas themselves. 
  • Digital assets, such as the QSRWeb.com and Facebook, are the media where consumers would expect to learn about clean playgrounds.
  • Over 75 percent of parents and grandparents would visit clean QSRs more often, indicating a clean QSR can be a way to differentiate and connect with consumers 57 percent of parents and grandparents would drive further away for a clean QSR, indicating a clean QSR experience has real value.

Luzader belives his product, Elephant Armor, can meet all those needs.


Topics: Operations Management


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