green cleaning focus

Green Cleaning Focus On Health

So much has been said about green cleaning. Too often the green cleaning focus is simply grabbing a products with a green claim. If this is what your green cleaning program consists of, you may be making a big mistake.

To understand what it really means to clean green, you must first understand what it means to clean. When we go through the process of cleaning, we are doing more than just removing dirt. Cleaning has 3 main focuses, preventing long term damage, improving the appearance and most importantly, keeping the facility healthy.

Preventing Damage

When you clean a surface, you are stopping the build up of contaminates. If left unchecked, dirt, residues and minerals will deteriorate the surface. Long term damage will occur from not maintaining the cleanliness of a facility.

Green cleaning should look to not only stop the damage to a facility, but to aid in lengthening the life of the materials within a building. Reducing the need to remodel and replace, prevents the use of raw materials to create replacements.

Improving Appearance

It is often said in the cleaning industry that we shouldn’t clean for appearance. While this is true, if it looks dirty, it usually is. Appearance isn’t not something that should be overlooked but used as a measuring tool. It shouldn’t be the only factor used, but it is the one thing we are constantly being graded on. So keeping things looking good should always be important

Green Cleaning Focus on Health

Health should always be the goal of any cleaning program. When we reduce and remove germs from a building, those that work and live there benefit. Because green cleaning focus is on using safer practices and products, everyone wins. Keeping building safe and healthy for everyone should be included in everyone’s mindset. From educating the cleaning staff on the best ways to reduce contaminates, to the build occupants understanding the need to reduce use. Green cleaning focus is what will make the biggest difference when going green!

square scrubber stripping video

Square Scrubber Floor Stripping Video

If you have not heard, square scrubber stripping is taking the floor care world by storm. Because they simplify the removal of floor finish, many building service contractors are finding that there is a great opportunity to improve profits. These oscillating floor machines mechanically remove floor finish, rather than using messy chemical strippers, making the floor refinishing process much faster, safer and easier.

Faster Floor Stripping

Using a surface prep pad that is very course, the high-speed oscillating head of the square floor scrubber grinds off the plastic layers of floor finish. Setup is a breeze. Simple put the pad on the square floor scrubber. Plug in the machine. Start stripping the floor.

Safer Floor Stripping

Everyone who has had to strip floors the old fashioned way knows that stripper is slippery. The layers of finish soak up the liquid stripper and start to slide as they dissolve. Many floor care professionals has war stories about slipping and falling. Square floor scrubbers don’t dissolve the old finish, so you always have solid footing

There is also the odor from the stripper. With chemical strippers, the V.O.C.’s can be a breathing hazard. With square floor scrubbers, there is no harmful chemicals, so no odor. Using a backpack vacuum will keep the dust under control or you can also use it wet, to completely eliminate dust all together.

Easier Floor Stripping

You cannot strip a floor with traditional methods without knowing exactly what you are doing. I have seen many floors ruined by inexperience. Not to mention the time that it takes to learn how to do it the right way. Square floor scrubbers are easier to operate that a standard single disk scrubber. The motion of the scrub head makes the machine extremely easy to move around. There is a very small learning curve!

The Square Scrubber Stripping Video

I made this video to show you how easy it is to strip floor finish with a square floor scrubber. Take a look and let me know your thoughts!

school health

Who Is In Charge Of School Health?

School health, when I was a kid, was either a little room with a very cold vinyl bed or it was a class you had to take with classmates of the same gender that taught students the basic functions of the human body. The only person that was in charge of school health was the nurse, who was only part time. Well that has all changed now.

With the media’s attention focused on flu out breaks, and school administrators having to submit real-time reports that dissect health trends in a district, state and region, school health is at the forefront of many people’s minds.  There is also the fact that many school district budgets are tied to attendance in one way or another. Money strapped schools are paying attention to every dollar, incoming and outgoing.

So this raises the question, who is really in charge of the school health?

School Health Isn’t What You Think

Most don’t realize it but the school custodian is. In a lot of cases, the custodial staff doesn’t even know how important their role is.

From the beginning of modern civilization, cleanliness (or the lack there of) has been directly tied to the spread of illness. From the Bubonic Plagues of the late 1300’s and early 1400’s up to today, the fact is that keeping a society healthy begins with cleanliness. Then, why is the school custodian often not viewed (or educated) to be focus of healthy schools?

The Impact Of School Health

Having worked with many schools at all levels over the years, I have seen the impact cleanliness has on health in schools. Trying to convince a school superintendent, principal or even a school board that their cleaning staff, whom in many cases, has no formal sanitation training and at the very bottom of the pay scale, is one of their most important employees, is a tough sell. After all, none of the other school employees are relevant if the students aren’t there due to illness.

Every parent should be asking, “Who is in charge of school health?”

microfiber cleaning products

Not Using Microfiber Cleaning Products? You Are Wasting Money.

Microfiber cleaning products have taken the North American cleaning industry by, well, spring shower. For some reason, cleaning professionals have been lukewarm when it comes to converting to the use of this material that in Europe is the standard. Why is this? I say it is a perceived value over cost issue. Yes, in most cases, the upfront purchase of microfiber is significantly more than the traditional tools.

The Cost Of  Microfiber Cleaning Products

Buying a dozen microfiber mops that cost 25% – 50% more than a traditional mop has understandably met with resistance. They do also have to be laundered regularly.  You also need new hardware which also needs to be replaced. The old mop handles and buckets are obsolete. Don’t forget about the learning curve for microfiber cleaning products too. They do cause you to clean differently.

I can imagine that you are thinking “That sounds like a huge waste of money and time.”

Trust me. It is not.

Microfiber Cleaning Facts

Here are some facts associated with microfiber cleaning products.

  1. Microfiber removes 2 to 3 times more soil from a surface than traditional fibers.
  2. Depending on the system that works best for your cleaning program, very few mops are actually needed.
  3. The life expectancy of microfiber is 10 to 15 times longer.
  4. Moping with microfiber is easier, more ergonomic and reduces the amount of cleaning
    chemical needed.

A Different Way Of Cleaning

The biggest problem is that the cleaning processes are different. Using microfiber causes you to have to re-look at the way you clean. Since it’s physical properties are actually removing the majority of the soil from the surface, chemicals that have been used for years to remove soil are not are not as important. We just keep trying to use them because it is all we know. You have to have a chemical to clean right?

What Is Microfiber Made From?

Since the term microfiber only describes the thickness of the thread, 1-100th of a human hair, there is some confusion as to what makes microfiber a cleaning tool. When you purchase an article of clothing or furniture that is made of microfiber, it will typically be 100% polyester. Unlike the leisure suits from the 70’s though, the thread is much smaller, thus softer, making it more comfortable. Since polyester is a type of plastic, it is also much easier to clean.

When it comes to microfiber that we use in cleaning, there is another element, polyamide, which is a different type of man-made material. Polyamide has grabbing power that retains soil and moisture. When combined with polyester, and then split, chambers and openings are formed between the two materials that collect soil. This is different from traditional materials that are solid strands that rely on moisture and chemicals to hold soil. (see my post on how microfiber cleans)

Hold the Dirt. Don’t Just Push It Around

By actually holding the soil with in its fibers, microfiber has much more capacity. Since, again, it is all just plastic, and with limited sticky detergents, it will release then easily when rinsed, making them more effecting for longer periods. The other factor over natural fibers such as cotton is that plastic will not support the growth of bacteria. The reason cotton mops tend to have a foul smell, is that the bacteria that is picked up can actually feed on the fibers. As bacteria eat, they give off gases which is where not only mops get their smell but as do restrooms, carpets and anything else that attracts bacteria.

By using microfiber cleaning tools, you make your efforts much more productive. You will also will not need to purchase replacement mops and cloths nearly as often. And the results will be a cleaner, healthier and much safer environment.

Stop wasting money and start using microfiber!

green cleaning programs

5 Results Of Green Cleaning Programs

Implementing green cleaning programs has become the focus for many. Some of the questions that come up are “What does it cost?” “How long does it take?” “Do I need to be certified?” These are important questions, but there is one questions that needs to be asked first.

What are the reasons  for implementing green cleaning programs? Although there are thousands of green products on the market and most have been given the image that to use them, you  must sacrifice cleaning quality for green clean compliance. This seems to have had a measurable impact on green cleaning momentum.

To implement green cleaning programs, the focus must first be moved from green cleaning products, to green cleaning practice. Most importantly, results. There is a need to change the way cleaning is done, before green can be achieved. These changes are not because of a desire to be green, they are because of the need to clean with health in mind. There are definite changes that are made when a green cleaning program is implemented with a focus on health. Many of which are not even factor in the world of traditional cleaning.

5 Results Green Cleaning Programs.

1. Health

By implementing cleaning programs, you will experience improved indoor air quality, slow the spread of illness and reduce the chances for exposure to toxic chemicals. By employing safer green procedures, less chemical residue is left on surfaces to promote the spread of germs and there are fewer air borne particles released that contaminate the air.

2. Appearance

Green cleaning programs actually remove more dirt if implemented and performed properly. Taking a step back and re-learning what clean really is, it will become apparent that the level of clean we have grown to accept is no longer acceptable. Green cleaning allows surfaces to be cleaned much more effectively. This improves the cleaning results as well as the appearance.

3. Reduced Surface Damage

Many traditional methods of cleaning, over time, actually damage the surfaces they are meant to maintain. Toxins and abrasives may remove soils but also cause long term and even permanent damage that can be costly to repair or replace. By reducing or eliminating harmful practices, and focusing on maintenance, the surfaces will last much longer.

4. Cost To Clean

Green practices are much more efficient. Accomplishing more, with less is at the heart of green cleaning programs. By directing effort toward better results, you are able to achieve a cleaner, healthier facilities, in less time. This is done by employing techniques that eliminate the use of wasteful and counter-productive cleaning products that in many cases can cause surfaces to be more difficult to clean.

5. Employee Morale

By being able to perform tasks more effectively, with less risk to yourself and the facility and actually see the positive results from your efforts, the morale of the staff will be improved. No one likes to do a bad job and given the know how to do a good job only makes performing the task more rewarding.

Implementing green cleanings program is very effective way to maintain facilities. By evaluating cleaning results and setting up procedures that use resources more efficiently, you will discover the positive effects of from green cleaning!

restaurant cleaning

Restaurant Cleaning and Eating Out Is Hard

Restaurant cleaning has always perplexed me. Why do they make it seem so difficult?

I recently went out to eat with my family and some friends to an upscale chain restaurant. This particular chain goes overboard on decorating. Large concrete statues and fountains great you as you approach the rotating door. Natural stone walls, expensive lighting and very plush seating were carefully selected and placed to give the feel of luxury. After being seated, the menu prices matched the decor. This is not my normal environment. I am more comfortable in a “mom and pop” style place where a cheese burger and fries tops the selection.

I can tell you though, I will probably never return to this restaurant. All of the money spent on appearance was wasted as soon as we walked through the circular door. It was covered with hand prints, splatter, and general dirt. Inside was the same. The plush bench we sat on in the waiting area was sticky and the floor was un-swept. The table where we were sat was more of the same.

We gave my 2-year-old son some crayons and paper to occupy him. As 2 year olds do, he dropped one of his crayons on the floor. When I picked it up, it was covered in some sort of sticky goo that really made me question whether or not the floor  had ever been cleaned. Since it was the green crayon and there was no way I was going to give it back to him, we ended up with a pink tractor and grass in the drawing.

When he needed to use the restroom, I cringed, and carefully lead him to the men’s room. As expected, it was more of the same. The sticky, dirty, expensive tile floors and walls made me constantly guard against him reaching out and touching. (Anyone who has ever taken a 2-year-old to the restroom knows the challenges involved with this.) If this is what the lobby, restrooms and eating area looked like, I would hate to see the kitchen.

Restaurant Cleaning Has a Cost

Why do we tolerate poor restaurant cleaning? Businesses spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to develop and promote their products. They invest in lavish decorating. Spend countless hours refining their offering, to have it all go to waste by not putting the same amount of care and thought into cleaning. What would the cost have been to solve all of these issues? I am going to say less than the cost of a statue.

The cost of not fixing these is un-measurable because people typically will not say anything to the business, but will tell everyone they know.

Wasted Effort

The really disturbing issue that comes to mind is that they probably do clean. I am sure someone cleans the restroom every day. Someone does sweep the floor and wipe off the entrance glass. They are spending the time and money to go through the motions. But again, this time and money are wasted. The procedures are incorrect or the products they use are ineffective or not used in the proper manner. This is something I see all the time.

Facilities allocate the time to clean. They invest in the products to clean and then have staff put forth the effort to clean, but the results don’t match the effort. If it isn’t working, find a different way. Does it take any more effort to mop a floor with a dirty mop than a clean one? I am still sliding the mop along the floor.  Would it cost more money to use a clean mop and change the water in the bucket?

Reflection On Over All Quality

The cleanliness of any facility speaks volumes to the type of service that will be given. Retail stores, restaurants, office buildings and schools can all have their image affected by cleanliness. What is your level of cleanliness saying about you? Despite best efforts are you still getting the same results?

With a few small adjustments, time spent cleaning can produce better results which will pay for themselves very quickly. Most of the time it is just a change in the way cleaning is done.

In the case of this or any eating establishment, the return business would far outweigh any increase in restaurant cleaning cost.

cleaning chemical labels

Do You Read Chemical Labels?

Have you ever actually read the cleaning chemical labels? I always find it interesting to ask people about their cleaning procedures. In health care, offices, schools and even in their homes, most people rely on what the front of the bottle says and not what is in the smaller print on the back.

In several meetings with clients, I had asked about their procedures for cleaning and disinfecting. Not one of them knew or was following the directions on the product label. To be honest, this didn’t surprise me at all.

After reading the label and learning about the procedures set by the E.P.A. and the manufacturer, most of them decided that their way was acceptable. Either they didn’t have time to allow a disinfectant the prescribed dwell time or it seemed to work better at a different dilution. Regardless of the reasoning, the choice to not follow the label instructions can have very dangerous results.

Find Out For Yourself

Here are a couple of examples of cleaning chemical labels, from common household chemicals. I would bet very few know about these.

Spray Disinfecting Cleaner Chemical Labels

Did you know that disinfectant and cleaner are actually two completely different uses for the same product? According to the label, you can CLEAN with this product, you can SANITIZE with this product or you can DISINFECT with this product.

You CANNOT do all with one big swipe of the cloth though. You must do one or the other. In the case of disinfecting, you must clean prior to applying the product as a disinfectant. Then you have to let it sit on the surface for 10 minutes before wiping it off.

I can’t say this for every brand of this type of product, but the 3 I looked at all said the same thing.

Bleach Chemical Labels

First and for most, read all the warnings that any bleach product has on its label. It’s a wonder that they can squeeze that many words on the bottle. There are at least 3 different dilutions you must have ready to go prior to cleaning and sanitizing just your kitchen.

1 table-spoon of bleach to a gallon of water for washing the baby’s bottles and your dishes. Then ¾ of a cup of bleach in a gallon for the trash can, sink and counter top. You will also need 3 table spoons mixed with a gallon of water to clean your wooden cutting boards, but only need the 1 table-spoon mixture for your plastic cutting boards.

Who does this? Mom always grabbed the spray bottle that had Bleach written in pen on the side. What was the mixture in that? Oh and you will need to clean all of these surfaces with water, prior to applying the bleach which will need to stand for 5 minutes prior to wiping off.

Window Cleaner Blue Chemical Labels

If you are familiar with the pH scale, you will know that 7 is neutral, 7.1 to 14 is alkaline and 6.9 to 0 is acidic. Good ole’ Blue Window Cleaner is 10.5 to 11. That is one notch lower than a good floor stripper, which is usually 12+.

These are just a few examples of what you can learn by turning the bottle around and learning how to properly use the products you pay good money for. Regardless of whether it is a green cleaning product or not.  If you are going to spend the money to by a disinfectant, then it should be used properly to disinfect. A cleaner should be used to clean the correct surfaces at the correct dilution. If you are not following the label, then you may as well use water.

Green Clean Institute Review

I recently took the Green Clean Institute’s Certified Technician Training. It consisted of two courses, GCIC Technician 101 and GCIC Technician 102. Even after 20 years of actively perusing cleaning industry knowledge, I was pleased with the information and the direction the materials took. This is not Cleaning 101, this is Green Cleaning 101 (and 102, I guess.) If you need to learn how to swing a mop, re-finish floors or clean windows and carpet, then I would recommend acquiring those skills prior to taking attending this class. The focus of these courses is personal health and the concepts of Green Clean Compliance.

Green Clean Institute Technician Certification

The 101 section works with the history of and evolution of green cleaning, green business and how cleaning green relates to business along with other attributes that add to green in cleaning programs. There are procedures, responsibilities and federal regulations that are covered. If you are new to the world of green cleaning or a green fanatic, this spells it all out in a nice, neat package.
In the 102 section, topics include the impact of green products, how they differ from traditional cleaning products and how to evaluate them. It also covers green cleaning techniques and procedures, source reduction, recycling and staff training among other related topics. Read more

Safe Cleaning With Water!

****Update**** Activeion is no longer in business. Learn More Here

Ionized water for cleaning is nothing new, but the ability to use it at home is. Ionized water is regular tap water that has been “activated” with a slight electrical charge. This charge splits the positive and negative ions. Just like a magnet, these ions want to get back together with an opposite charge. They combine with the positive and negative ions in soil, releasing it from surfaces. After a few seconds the water is just regular water with dirt suspended in it.  The electrical charge also kills bacteria by causing their cell walls to rupture, much like chemical do, but in a lot less time. Surfaces can be sanitized with a 6 second spray. Most household sanitizers and disinfectants take up to 10 minutes to have the same effect. It’s kind of like a bug zapper for bacteria.

With the Activeion HOM, you can replace many chemical cleaners in your house. Window cleaner, sanitizing spray, wood polish, carpet spotter (yes, it works great on carpets) and general purpose cleaners.

Since it is rechargeable, and refillable with tap water, you can keep it handy to clean at home and on the go. Cleaning dishes while camping, washing hands while at sports practice, even to clean fruit and vegetables picked from the garden.  There really is no limit to what or where you can clean.

Click the banner below to see more about Activeion HOM and to order yours. We have been using this for months and find new uses for it every day!

vacuum carpet tips

Carpet and Dirt, You Probably Have Both…

Everyone has at least some carpeting. From your home, work, cars and even the establishments you frequent, carpeting is everywhere. Since the first carpets were made in the late 1700’s, someone has had to keep them clean. (Can you imagine the smell tracked in from streets with horse-drawn wagons?) The problem with cleaning carpet is that it is not a smooth surface. By nature, it holds soils. Whether it is a deep, plush style carpet or a low profile, indoor/outdoor pile, dirt gets trapped. Just to vacuum carpet does not get all of the dirt. Unlike solid surface floor coverings, where what you see is what you get, carpet presents a list of obstacles that hide soils. How do we get to the bottom (Pun intended) of carpet cleaning and improving your vacuuming? Read more