Safer Covid disinfectant for thousands of aircraft

Wed, 11/10/2023 - 10:00

Thuwal, Saudi Arabia, 10th October 2023 / Sciad Newswire / King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) biotech spinout WAYAKIT’s safe, QAC-free disinfectant is being used on thousands of aircraft through new Saudi Ground Services (SGS) cleaning partnership.

There is increasing concern over health and environmental impacts of quaternary ammonium-based (QACs) cleaning products, including: asthma, dermatitis, and antimicrobial resistance.

The partnership has already resulted in removal of 37.4 tons of unsafe chemicals including quaternary ammonium compounds (QACs) from the environment. The eco-friendly disinfectant will be used in more than 200,000 aircraft cleaned by SGS each year in Saudi Arabia.

The aircraft cleaning product developed by KAUST startup WAYAKIT uses citric acid, a natural, biodegradable ingredient that does not contribute to antimicrobial resistance and effectively reduces SARS-Cov-2 viral concentration. Their formula kills bacteria faster than toxic and hazardous alternatives and is less likely to cause allergic reactions or leave harmful residues.

Post-covid cleaning standards have increased demand and use of cleaning products in aircraft, hospitals, hotels, buses, trains, and schools. Airline crews are required to clean aircraft interiors within 9 to 12 minutes and require high-tech products that work quicky.

“We have seen WAYAKIT’s growth and we are proud of being the incubator of this impact-focused technology that now is revolutionizing airplane cleaning in Saudi Arabia – and hopefully soon the world,” said Kevin Cullen, former vice president of innovation of KAUST. “The partnership between WAYAKIT and SGS demonstrates their commitment to reducing their environmental impact while providing innovative and effective solutions.”

Using WAYAKIT's biodegradable disinfectant, SGS has transitioned from quaternary ammonium-based products and is now able to clean and disinfect 7.5 million square meters using non-hazardous chemicals.

"We have proven that when SGS shifted towards a WAYAKIT solution, they not only increased their cleaning efficiency but also saved operational costs and decreased the exposure of crew and passengers to toxic chemicals," said Dr. Luisa Javier, chief executive officer of WAYAKIT. “WAYAKIT aims to provide natural-based cleaning products that really work and are safe and sustainable for our planet. We track the impact of our clients using the UN Sustainable Development Goals – and we are proud to partner with SGS to deliver sustainable impact.”

Use of WAYAKIT has enabled SGS to achieve the Silver category of WAYAKIT’s Environmental Circle Certification due to a reduction in environmental hazards. The certification recognizes a commitment by SGS to implementing sustainable interior aircraft cleaning practices.

"At SGS, sustainability is a core value, and we strive to bring innovative solutions that improve our productivity and hygiene quality. Caring for passengers and staff is part of SGS's integrity. Additionally, SGS has achieved cost efficiency and excellence in delivering service to our stakeholders." said Dr. Ahmed Al-Saggaf, Director of Innovation and Business Development at SGS.

WAYAKIT looks forward to exporting its technology globally to enhance hygiene in other environments where crowds of people gather.


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Notes for Editors


Established in 2009, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) is a graduate research university devoted to finding solutions for some of the most pressing scientific and technological challenges in the world as well as Saudi Arabia in the areas of food and health, water, energy, environment and the digital domain. KAUST is a curiosity-driven, interdisciplinary problem-solving environment, with state-of-the-art labs, distinguished faculty and talented students.

KAUST brings together the best minds from around the world to advance research. More than 110 different nationalities live, work and study on campus. KAUST is also a catalyst for innovation, economic development and social prosperity, with research resulting in novel patents and products, enterprising startups, regional and global initiatives, and collaboration with other academic institutions, industries and Saudi agencies.

For additional information, visit


WAYAKIT is a biotech company that offers sustainable hygiene solutions through innovative cleaning and disinfection products. Its aim is to lead the people and industry towards using organic and waterless formulations instead of toxic chemicals to minimize the ecological footprint, health hazards, and operational costs of cleaning processes. WAYAKIT was founded in 2020 by Latino scientists Dr. Luisa Javier, and Dr. Sandra Medina, who arrived in Saudi Arabia as Ph.D. students at KAUST (King Abdullah University of Science and Technology) and are now the directors of WAYAKIT with operations in Saudi, and Mexico. They both have been awarded as the 2022 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company ME in the category "Bringing Good Things to More People". For additional information, visit

About Saudi Ground Services

Saudi Ground Services (SGS) is the national provider of aircraft ground-handling services throughout its network of airlines in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. SGS was initially established in 1954 by the Saudi Arabian Airlines Corporation (known today as Saudia). SGS operates in 28 airports around Saudi Arabia, offering passenger services, baggage handling, ramp services, cargo services, fleet solutions, traffic control, load control, representation, and supervision. SGS executes hard and complex operations in the background while serving the passengers on the frontline at the highest standards of performance and professionalism, to enable a seamless and sustainable mobility ecosystem through integrated solutions and a customer-centric mindset. For additional information, visit