Plexiglass to the Rescue

The fight against Covid-19 is a fight against droplets. We’re up against the most high-speed actions that the body is capable of: Sneezing and Coughing. A sneeze can send droplets flying 30 feet, at speeds up to 100 mph. To defend against this, many organizations invest in plexiglass barriers known as Sneeze Guards.

This article explores sneeze guards as a social distance solution. You’ll learn about recommendations from leading health experts, the use of plexiglass barriers in America, cleaning methods, and advice when choosing sneeze guards of your own.

Barriers installed at the front desk of Melvin Mark in downtown Portland office

What do the Experts Say?

Health experts agree that sneeze guards help slow the spread of coronavirus. The World Health Organization, the Center for Disease Control, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration all encourage the use of plastic barriers. Sneeze guards do not eliminate the need for other preventative measures, but they are broadly recommended. Experts point to key benefits of using barriers:

  1. Stop droplets from traveling 
  2. Enforce social distance when it otherwise may be difficult
  3. Reduce the need for other PPE such as face shields, to help prevent shortages

Plexiglass Barriers in America

For many businesses, face to face interaction can’t be avoided. American grocery chains adapted quickly. In early spring of 2020, Walmart, Kroger and Albertsons installed barriers to protect guests and staff. Our fabrication studio here at ACME helped grocery stores in Portland do the same. In May, we built and installed plexiglass barriers for several Zupan’s Markets.

Sneeze guards have long been used in restaurants. They were first developed in 1959 by Johnny Garneau, owner of a buffet called Smorgasbords. Since then, the FDA codified barriers as a requirement for food displays in certain states. In 2020, plexiglass barriers are rising in popularity. It is yet to be seen whether sneeze guards will become a part of health codes outside the food industry.

How to Clean a Sneeze Guard

Barriers must be cleaned often. Daily sanitization is ideal if possible. To prevent scratching, use microfiber towels to wipe the surface. Plaskolite, a leading manufacturer of plastic sheets, released this guide for disinfecting plastic. They report that some cleaners can damage the material. The following options are recommended, easily available and safe for cleaning plexiglass:

  1. 70% isopropyl alcohol
  2. Warm dish washing soap solution
  3. Hydrogen peroxide 3-5%

Choosing Your Barrier

There are several things to consider when choosing a sneeze guard. Does your barrier need a cutout section for interaction or passing objects? These windows are often called Passthroughs. A passthrough should be small, and located away from the face.

Standalone barriers are an effective temporary option. Avoid barriers that hang from the ceiling, as they tend to sway and waft air. Material thickness is also important. Plexiglass barriers often come in thicknesses of 1/8”, 3/16”, or 1/4”. ACME builds sneeze guards with 1/4” thickness for durability.

When choosing size, consider who will be behind the barrier. Context matters too. A young student at a desk needs a different barrier than an adult standing in a checkout line. You’ll get the best results from a sneeze guard designed to protect a specific area. For example, our fabrication studio built barriers for the corporate offices of commercial real estate company Melvin Mark. We matched the partitions to the exact length of each cubicle. The custom design protected employees from multiple sides without gaps.


Get in Touch

Even after Covid-19 is behind us, public health will remain a concern. Plexiglass barriers are a long-lasting and widely recommended solution. If you need of a social distance solution, ACME can help. We’ve built custom sneeze guards for medical offices, front desk areas, restaurants and more. Contact us at to get started. You can also visit our website Stay safe and thanks for reading.