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Cleaning Industry Remains Positive as Economy Improves

cleaning-surveyCommercial Cleaning and the Economy

The recent economic recession affected more than the banks and brokers on Wall Street. Industries across the country,  including commercial cleaning, found themselves in sometimes dire straights. Surviving a recession calls for improved methods of operation, smart choices, and  creative problem solving.

As a whole, the commercial cleaning industry has weathered the storm and is poised to show a robust growth as the economy improves.

The Efficient Cleaning Economy

Desperate times call for desperate measures, says the old adage. When times got tough for the cleaning industry, commercial cleaners got more efficient. The 2013 Cleaning Industry Insights Survey highlights that increased efficiency in operations and reducing operating costs have contributed to the survival and improvement of the commercial cleaning industry in the United States.

The New Cleaning Economy

The comprehensive survey collected responses from upwards of 400 commercial cleaning professionals working in the food service, health care, and hospitality sectors of the industry. Since the flagship survey was performed in 2011, a focus on retaining business and customer satisfaction have remained as the leading areas of concern among commercial cleaning professionals. Efficiency improvements have played a large role not only in maintaining profitable, but in impressing customers.

  • Operating Costs. Survey respondents felt less pressure to reduce operating costs than they did in 2011. An improving economy has contributed to the ease on cost cutting, as well as successful cost cutting measures that have been implemented over the last two years. The survey revealed that fewer companies were making cutbacks in 2013 than in 2011. The exception to this is the health care industry. The pressure valve hasn’t been released on cleaning companies who work in hospitals and clinics. In fact, the health care sector feels increased pressure to cut costs, including office supplies and staff, to meet strict budget demands.
  • Customer Satisfaction. A perennial area for improvement, customer satisfaction remains an area of focus for commercial cleaners. The good news is that reduced operating costs, a focus on sustainable cleaning practices, and improvements in efficiency over the last two years have boosted customer satisfaction. Cleaning professionals that have kept a tight ship through the recession have improved their bottom line and improved their customer satisfaction. Definitely a win-win situation.
  • Products and Performance. Cleaning products, equipment and their level of performance remained the area of highest focus by cleaning professionals. Cleaning companies want commercial cleaning products and equipment that get the job done well and done right the first time. Improvements in sustainable products, practices, and equipment has helped cleaners meet these goals, which in turn improves their operating costs and customer satisfaction.
  • Focus on Efficiency. Survey respondents also revealed that commercial cleaners are more likely to focus on efficiency improvements and cost cutting measures than increasing the price of products and services to make ends meet.

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Green Cleaning Practices in Schools

green-cleaning-in-schoolsGreen Cleaning in Schools

School facilities, campuses and classrooms all benefit from being clean and well maintained. A properly trained cleaning staff and a high standard of cleanliness keep students and faculty healthy and focused on learning. School and campus cleaning departments have increasingly been relying on green cleaning products to achieve the high standards needed for school facility cleanliness.

Adopting Green Cleaning Products and Practices

Green cleaning products and practices have become more than feel good additions to campus cleaning regimens. Cleaning departments across the country are adopting green cleaning products and practices to achieve higher sustainability goals, and legislation is regularly being passed that mandates more sustainable cleaning methods.

The Impact of Green Cleaning in Schools

Green cleaning aims to provide healthy, safe and clean learning spaces without harming the environment. The foodservice and preparation areas, restrooms, classrooms and locker room facilities in schools are all high-traffic areas that need regular cleaning on a daily basis. Conventional cleaning products and practices introduce harsh chemicals and detergents into the air and water and can provide less than adequate conditions for students and faculty. The impact of adopting green cleaning practices in schools around the country can have a collectively major positive impact on the environment.

Green Cleaning Practices

Green cleaning practices in schools have been implemented by many schools because of performance standards that regulate indoor air quality, environmental hazards, healthy physical environments, and student health. Clean school environments that use green and sustainable cleaning practices can improve student absenteeism, levels of infection, and reduce asthma-related problems.

  • Green cleaning practices start with a good training program. Custodial and janitorial staff should be given instructions, tools and resources that allow them to implement green cleaning practices properly. 
  • Sustainability in cleaning is more than using green cleaning products. Understanding best practices, having access to efficient equipment, and using smart products like concentrated cleaning solutions, will create a broad approach to sustainable cleaning practices that includes less packaging, less transportation, and greener products.

Green Cleaning Products and Purchasing for Schools

Schools that are moving forward with sustainable cleaning practices rely on vendors and distributors for the products and equipment they need. A focus on green cleaning needs to go beyond the campus boundaries and into the business communities that work with campuses, school districts and facilities. Suppliers of green cleaning products and sustainable cleaning equipment are valuable partners for schools who are reaching for greener cleaning standards.

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4 Cleaning Tips for the New School Year

back-to-school-cleaningBack to School Cleaning

The new school year is just days away, which means thousands of students, faculty and administrators will be returning to school buildings and facilities across the country. The primary goal of a school is to create a safe and effective learning environment. A key component to that environment is a properly cleaned and maintained facility.

Creating a Safe, Clean Learning Environment

Beginning the school year is an important and exciting time. New students are being acquainted with their surroundings, returning students are moving ahead on their academic path, and teachers and faculty are preparing for a year of class schedules, curriculum and learning. The environment they all return to needs to be clean, safe and welcoming to achieve

A well-cleaned, disinfected and prepared school environment is also critical for helping reduce and prevent the spread of infectious diseases and viruses. The health of students and faculty is dependent on clean learning environments that prevent infection and cross contamination.

New School Year Cleaning Tips

Before the front doors open at your school, cleaning staff can prepare for the academic season by:

  1. Deep Cleaning Restrooms and Locker Rooms. Restrooms and locker rooms are hotbed for bacteria and other microorganisms. Toilets, shower facilities, grout and tile, faucet handles and sinks are used frequently. If not properly disinfected, these surfaces can transfer infectious bacteria to students and faculty who use them. Bacteria in these environments can also cause unpleasant odors that reflect negatively on the school environment. Cleaning staff should focus on disinfecting grout lines, toilets and shower surfaces in particular to eliminate urine stains and other grime that odorous and infectious bacteria thrive on.
  2. Disinfecting High-Touch Surface Areas.  Viruses and infectious diseases can be easily transferred at high-touch surfaces. Door handles, desks, pencil sharpeners, hand rails and computer mouses are just a few of the highly used and touched surfaces in a school environment. Regular cleaning and disinfection of these surfaces can help reduce the spread of infection.
  3. Thoroughly Cleaning Food Preparation and Service Facilities. Infectious diseases can be rapidly spread in foodservice and food preparation facilities. Cafeterias, kitchens and dining facilities need to be kept clean and disinfected daily.
  4. Disinfect in Addition to Cleaning. Both cleaning and disinfecting are important activities that will keep your school a healthy place. It is important to go beyond cleaning and disinfect, as well. Whereas cleaning removes dirt, grime and stains, disinfection kills bacteria, eliminates viruses and other microorganisms that can spread disease.

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VCT Floor Care Tips

vct-flooringVinyl Composition Tile Care

Cleaning hard flooring surfaces is one of the most ubiquitous jobs in the commercial cleaning and janitorial industry. Professional cleaning staffs encounter them every day. Vinyl composition tile (VCT) is among the most common hard flooring materials. It’s durability and affordability make it a popular choice.

Resilient and long-lasting, it is a favorite choice for hallways, laundry facilities, bathrooms, kitchens, and other high traffic areas that get a lot of heavy use.

Cleaning VCT is a fairly straight forward task, but there are some things to keep in mind, especially when working with a newly installed VCT floor. The quality and longevity of the floor can depend on how it is treated and cleaned from the beginning.

Cleaning a New VCT Floor

A newly installed VCT floor needs time to settle. Glues used when laying the tile can take hours or days to fully cure and reach their maximum adhesiveness. Cleaning and heavy use of the floor should be postponed for several days, or up to a week. Waiting for the glue to fully cure will also assure that the floor is completely dry and hardened and can be cleaned and walked on without fear of altering the tile.

Cleaning Techniques

Cleaning and finishing VCT properly from the get go will assure their lasting durability and resilience. Proper cleaning techniques will also save time, money, and energy.

  • Scrubbing. After a VCT floor has fully cured, machine scrubbing is a thorough and effective way of removing dirt, grime and other build-ups or markings. Using a scrubbing machine may be the most effective way for removing the protective coating that the manufacturer may have applied to the tiles.
  • Cleaning Products. Manufacturer’s may recommend specific cleaning products. Your cleaning staff should use a good all-purpose cleaner that is effective, affordable and sustainable. If your cleaning service is incorporating sustainable practices, look for a green cleaning solution or concentrated chemical solution.
  • Sealing and Finishing. A sealing or finishing product will help fully protect the new floor. Apply as many coats as the manufacturer recommends, or as your client requests. Take into account how often the floor is used, what kind of elements it is subjected to (i.e. water, food, grease, outdoor debris, etc.), and your budget.
  • Buffing or Burnishing. Select a finish based on the burnishing or buffing technique you will use to complete the floor cleaning. 

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Hand Washing Prevents Norovirus

norovirus-preventionHand Washing and Norovirus

Norovirus is a common and easily contracted gastrointestinal virus with global reach. Symptoms range from upset stomach to nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Hygiene plays a major role in the transmission of norovirus. Hand washing is one of the easiest and most effective ways to prevent infection.

Soap vs. Sanitizer

Using hand sanitizers and soaps to achieve clean hands are good practices, but with dramatically different results. Testing has shown conclusively that thoroughly washing with hand soap eliminates more germs, dirt, grime and bacteria than washing with hand sanitizers.

While washing with hand sanitizers is better than not washing at all, nothing beats using hand soap. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing with hand soap instead of hand sanitizer to prevent infection and spread of norovirus.

Washing Your Hands Thoroughly

Hand washing statistics reveal that people spend an average of only five seconds per hand wash. For effective disinfection, hands should be thoroughly scrubbed for 20 seconds to reduce bacteria rates and remove dirt and grim. You can recite the ABCs, sing happy birthday twice, or just count to 20. Whatever you do, it’s important to thoroughly scrub for 20 seconds. Studies have shown that a five second hand wash leaves hands saturated with almost the same amount of bacteria as if they hadn’t washed their hands at all.

Automated Washing and Drying

The next frontier in hand washing hygiene is automated. You may have seen faucets, soap dispensers and hand towel machines that are all automated and operate with no-touch technology. These aren’t just gimmicks, they provide better hygiene and help slow the spread of infections like norovirus by reducing contaminated surfaces that people come in contact with.

A Lesson in Hand Washing
You were taught how to wash your hands when you were a kid, but it’s worth revisiting the basics from time to time. Take a look at the following hand washing steps which are based on the CDC’s recommendations for proper hand hygiene.

1. Wash your hands with running water that is clean and warm.

2. Administer soap to your hands and rub it to a lather.

3. Thoroughly scrub your hands for 20 seconds. Make sure to apply lathered soap between fingers, under nails, and on the front and back of hands and fingers.

4. Rinse your hands with running tap water.

5. Use a paper towel to completely dry your hands off.

Voila! You have done your part to help reduce the spread of norovirus!

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Exploring Green Cleaning in Healthcare

disinfecting-hospitalsComparing Green Disinfecting Methods in Healthcare Facilities

Sanitation, hygiene and safety are paramount in healthcare settings. The health of patients, staff and visitors depends on a clean, disinfected environment.

As trends in commercial cleaning continue to include more green and environmentally friendly products and practices, it is important to maintain effective methods of disinfecting hospitals, clinics and other healthcare facilities.

Effective Disinfection

Ideal disinfection of a healthcare environment should meet the following qualifications:

  • A high kill of organisms that pose a threat of infection, most importantly Clostridium difficile (C. diff) spores.
  • Quickly accomplished in a thorough manner.
  • Easy to perform by trained cleaning staff.
  • A cost-effective set of practices and products that meet a high standard of cleanliness.
  • Sustainable cleaning program that is nonconsumptive and has minimal waste.
  • Uses cleaning methods and products that are safe for staff and patients to interact with.
  • Reduces infections and improves patient health.

Green Cleaning Products and Practices

Chemical disinfectants, Ultraviolet systems, and steam vapor cleaners are among the most commonly used disinfection systems used in healthcare environments today.

  • Chemical disinfectants. Chemical disinfectants make use of Volatile Organic Compounds, ethers, ammonias and other chemicals and detergents. Chemical disinfectants are considered hazardous and need to be handled with care and stored safely. These cleaners are relatively affordable, easy to obtain and simple to use. While not considered green cleaning products, themselves, there are green cleaning methods that can make the use of chemical disinfectants more sustainable. Using chemical cleaners that are in concentrated forms allows cleaning staff to dilute them to the desired amount, helping save on packaging, shipping and waste reduction.
  • Ultraviolet room disinfecting systems. UV cleaning systems are an effective, chemical-free way of disinfecting surfaces in healthcare facilities. While there are amounts of mercury in the UV emitters themselves, the cleaning process is essentially the shining of a UV light over surfaces that need to be disinfected. The obvious benefits are many, including no VOCs, chemicals or detergents. UV disinfection cannot, however, be used for daily cleaning of rooms or spaces. It does not remove dirt, dust or grime—it simply kills organisms.
  • Steam vapor sanitation systems. The high heat of steam is used to disinfect hospitals and clinics with steam vapor sanitation machines. Tap water and a cloth attachment help remove dirt and grime while killing bacteria and other organisms with the power of steam. The high temperatures and penetrating nature of steam make this an attractive option for disinfecting textiles, curtains and other permeable surfaces in healthcare environments.

Hopefully this brief guide will help you begin your search for greener, more sustainable cleaning methods in your healthcare facility.

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Defeating Restroom Odors

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERARestroom Odor

There’s no doubt that you’ve been in a restaurant, commercial building or public facility and encountered a foul smelling bathroom. Everyone has had this negative experience. Chances are that a bad smelling bathroom impacted your entire experience and may deter you from returning.

This problem highlights the importance of restroom cleanliness. True cleaning disinfects and gets to the root cause of odors. A bathroom may look clean, but its smell will always give it away.

Deep Cleaning Bathrooms

Most persistent restroom odors are caused by the crystallization of uric acid, and the presence of bacteria. Spilled urine can soak into grout lines, wainscoting, trim or other hard-to-reach areas. Bacteria feed on the crystallized urine and create the pungent ammonia odor that wrinkles your nose.

Cleaning staff must be persistent in thoroughly removing urine before it forms into malodorous uric acid crystals. A bathroom deep cleaning regimen should be adopted by commercial cleaners that includes green cleaning products. Conventional cleaners can often leave residues that attract dirt and grime, creating breeding grounds for bacteria and gathering places for urine.

Adopting Effective Cleaning Methods

Having green cleaning products that target and destroy foul smelling bacteria is important. Using these cleaning products properly and adopting effective cleaning methods for targeting odor-causing trouble spots is just as important.

  • Target grout lines. These are hot spots for odor causing bacteria. Grout is porous and absorbs spilled urine, where it forms crystals and is consumed by bacteria. Instead of just mopping stalls and bathroom floors, clean grout lines with a grout cleaner and seal them regularly to prevent urine from soaking in. 
  • Make sure floor drains in restrooms are unblocked and open. Excess moisture creates a breeding ground for bacteria that will exacerbate an odor problem.
  • Consider adopting spray-and-vacuum cleaning appliances that leave a relatively dry surface immediately after cleaning.

It’s Worth the Extra Effort

Purchasing new cleaning products and appliances may seem like an obstacle, but in the long run it will save your cleaning staff time and it will save you money. By finding an effective way of eliminating bathroom odors, janitorial staff won’t have to keep addressing the problem and cleaning them over and over again with insufficient results. A clean and good smelling bathroom will also improve the reputation of the building or facility that you clean. This is especially important for restaurants and other private enterprises that rely on positive customer experience and satisfaction.

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Humid Summer Creates Mold Threat

moldThe Threat of Mold

When temperatures skyrocket during the summer months, the price of your cooling bill may be your biggest concern. But don’t forget to factor in the threat of mold. High humidity combined with high temperatures creates a breeding ground for mold and mildew. They can grow extremely fast in ideal conditions and cause more than unsightly stains. Mold and mildew can create serious health risks and structural damage.

Conditions for Mold Growth

Mold grows in dark, warm and humid places. Large commercial buildings can be subject to undetected mold growth that has the potential to contaminate air, water and food sources.

  • Mold poses a threat when it has access to a food source and to water or a humid environment. As mold grows, it feeds off of the material it is attached to, and releases mold spores into the air.
  • Warm, humid conditions that allow mold to thrive are more likely to happen in the summer, when humid air and seasonally warm temperatures are prevalent.
  • The Centers for Disease Control reports that those who are sensitive to mold may experience adverse side effects, including nasal congestion, throat discomfort, breathing difficulty, or skin and eye irritation. In some cases, more serious effects, such as lung infections, have been reported.
  • Proper ventilation is a must for preventing and controlling the growth of mold. Additionally, regular and thorough cleaning of potential problem areas can keep mold at bay. Pay particularly close attention to bathrooms, kitchen and laundry facilities that are susceptible to moisture buildup. Washing and scrubbing areas with an all-purpose cleaner, and allowing them to dry with fans or other ventilation will help stop mold before it starts.
  • Unchecked mold growth can do more than damage a building. It can also create health risks for workers, cleaning staff and building residents.

 Cleaning to Remove and Prevent Mold

Mold grows on organic materials that it can feed off of. It doesn’t commonly grow on metal, stone or tile surfaces. If those surfaces are covered in grease, dirt, grime or other substances that mold can feed on, it may grow on those surfaces.

During the hot and humid summer months, building managers and cleaning staff management should work together to limit cleaning tasks that create moisture on the hottest days. Shampooing carpets and mopping floors should be done regularly, but may require the use of a dehumidifier or limited to days or hours with cooler temperatures.

Additional Information about Mold

Mold commonly grows on:

  • Wood
  • Carpet
  • Food
  • Paper
  • Insulation materials
  • Wallpaper
  • Some paint
  • Plasterboard
  • Fabrics and textiles
  • Leather
  • Furniture components

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5 Ways Green Cleaning is Good for Your Clients

5-green-cleaning-benefits

Client Benefits of Green Cleaning

Green practices are gaining popularity and momentum across the country. Green is a buzzword that has large companies finding new ways to improve their corporate social responsibility (CSR) profile, and is a way of life for many businesses who are dedicated to protecting the environment while doing business.

One of the most impactful ways of going green is by implementing green cleaning practices. The chemicals and detergents used by conventional cleaning methods directly impact the environment.

5 Green Cleaning Benefits

Choosing green cleaning options has a broader set of of benefits than just a good report card. It’s good for your clients in 5 important ways:

  1. Green cleaning improves health and safety. Interacting with the abrasive chemicals used in conventional cleaners and cleaning methods impacts the health and safety of cleaning staff and occupants and employees of buildings. Using green cleaning practices reduces or eliminates the use of harmful chemicals that can leave residues and fumes that can harm humans.
  2. Green cleaning supports innovation. The green cleaning industry is at the forefront of green innovation. Organizations like the U.S. Green Building Council and Green Seal have created standards that are driving the improvement and innovation of green cleaning products, equipment and methods. When your client chooses a cleaning service that provides green cleaning, they are supporting innovation and development that helps drive the greater economy.
  3. Client goals are met through green cleaning. Many companies are setting goals and aspiring for industry standards that require green cleaning.
  4. Green business is flourishing. The use of green cleaning services is a way your client can communicate its eye for innovation and environmental stewardship to their customers. More Americans prefer companies to be green than ever, and it is more than a trend. Competitive companies are going green, and that means including green cleaning practices into their operating procedures.
  5. Green cleaning can save your client money. Green cleaning practices are about more than reducing chemicals. Using efficient products and cleaning methods, administering low amounts of concentrated cleaning solutions, using practical and timely cleaning methods, and investing in green cleaning technology and machinery are other ways that cleaning services are finding more sustainable ways to operate. Many of these sustainable methods save money, especially in the long run.

National Purity provides green cleaning products and supports the innovation of green cleaning industry-wide. Discover what they have to offer you and your clients at NationalPurity.com.

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GS-42: The Commercial Cleaning Standard

Commercial Cleaning Service Chattanooga TNGreen Seal Sets Cleaning Standard

The environmental advocate and non-profit organization Green Seal created an environmental standard for commercial cleaning companies called GS-42. The standard was created in 2006 and is officially called Green Seal’s Environmental Leadership Standard for Commercial and Institutional Cleaning Services, and is widely respected as a definitive standard for green operating procedures.

About GS-42

Commercial cleaners across the country have gained GS-42 certification, and more are joining them each year. The green cleaning standard is determined by distilling best practices throughout the industry and ranking cleaning companies based on how well they adopt them.

GS-42 Requirements

What does it take to get GS-42 certified by Green Seal? There is a detailed set of requirements that cover all aspects of the green cleaning industry. The standard heavily rewards highly organized cleaning strategies that value communication and community involvement.

An overview of the general requirements for the standard includes:

  • Cleaning staff and clients need to have clearly written operating procedures availble to them.
  • Unique green cleaning plans need to be created for each building.
  • A clearly defined system that details ways for cleaning staff, managers, building staff and occupants to  communicate with one another. This includes ways for all levels of the cleaning community to submit feedback about the system as a whole.
  • A sophisticated cleaning schedule that addresses the multifaceted needs of each building or facility that is being cleaned.
  • Specific instructions and descriptions for green cleaning procedures in all areas of a building.
  • Directions for green cleaning procedures that employ easily understandable language and graphics. The directions should details the use of tools, products and cleaning machinery.
  • The use of certified green products and cleaning chemicals.

A complete and detailed list of requirements can be viewed at greenseal.org.

Adopting Green Cleaning Strategies

Adopting changes doesn’t happen overnight. Gaining the support of your cleaning staff is essential for green cleaning procedures to be used effectively, and for acquiring GS-42 certification. You can help transition to a greener cleaning regimen by:

  • Holding regular staff meetings and training sessions that emphasize green cleaning procedures.
  • Explaining to your staff why green cleaning tactics are being implemented, and explaining the importance of GS-42 certification.
  • Outlining the benefits of green cleaning, including improved health, increased productivity, lower costs, the potential for valuable opportunities in the growing green cleaning market and the pride of cleaning at a nationally recognized high standard.

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