Beyond Environmentally Friendly Cleaning: Creating Green Policy

green-cleaning-policyGreen Cleaning Choices

Commercial cleaning companies have high standards to meet. Large cleaning tasks often have to be completed in a short amount of time, and the level of cleanliness reflects the competency and professionalism of the business.

Incorporating green cleaning into your business is an increasingly popular practice. By using more environmentally friendly cleaning products, companies can reduce waste, contribute fewer harsh chemicals to the air and water, and create safer environments for people who use the cleaned spaces.

Creating Green Policies

Creating a comprehensive green policy is more than using environmentally friendly all-purpose cleaners and hand soaps. Taking green cleaning to the next level means creating a training, maintenance and product purchasing plan that incorporates the tenets of green cleaning into the bigger picture.

A well-developed green cleaning policy will lessen your environmental impact and create a safe working environment for your employees.

Tips for a Greener Approach to Commercial Cleaning

  • Product selection. Environmentally friendly cleaning products are the backbone of green cleaning. Products that are sourced from natural ingredients, and eschew harsh chemicals and detergents contribute to better indoor air quality, and the reduction of pollution in the water and air. Conventional cleaning chemicals can contribute to skin and respiratory irritation, or burning if improperly administered. By developing  purchasing strategies that systematically incorporate green cleaning products, the quality of the spaces and the health of your staff will be directly and positively affected.
  • Training. Going green takes more than just using green products. A solid training program should be developed that instills smart, practical sustainable practices along with the use of green cleaning products. This step is essential to successful green cleaning policy that will have lasting power and be readily adopted by clients and staff. Training your staff to choose the right product for each cleaning job will also reduce wastage, make each cleaning task as effective as it can be, and limit damage to surfaces (a repair cost that your company would likely incur).
  • Sustainable cleaning practices. Creating a green policy can go beyond using green products. Cleaning methods that are more sustainable can also be adopted to form a more comprehensive green cleaning policy. For example, if your company uses conventional cleaning products, consider using ones that come in concentrated liquid form. This reduces the amount of energy it takes to ship them, they require less packaging and you can control the dosage of the chemicals for each cleaning job.

Keep Communicating

Communicate regularly with your staff with regular meetings, a newsletter or a weekly e-mail to keep the green cleaning conversation happening. Regular communication will also increase awareness of green cleaning practices and show your commitment to green cleaning policy.

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Effective Infection Prevention

hospital-infection-preventionPreventing Infection

Despite the incredible advancements in medical technology, many people die every day due to infections. What may come as a surprise is that many of those infection are obtained in hospitals all over the U.S. Having effective and robust infection prevention programs in hospitals is critical to patient and staff health, and to the containment of potential infectious outbreaks.

Hospital-acquired infections (HAI) can be reduced by implementing strong training programs, a thoroughly administered hand washing and hygiene program, on-going education on infection prevention for hospital employees, and an informed and effective cleaning staff.

Halting Cross-Contamination

In the event that a patient does contract an HAI, special cleaning procedures should be taken to limit the spread of the infection. In addition to regular cleaning, a room that holds an infected patient should be thoroughly cleaned with an all-purpose cleaner and disinfected. The additional cleaning may seem time consuming, but preventing the spread of infectious disease is worth the extra effort.

Hospital-wide Cleaning Procedures

Germs are found in more places than just an infected patient’s room, however, which means that effective cleaning and disinfecting procedures should take place throughout a hospital on a regular basis.

High-use areas in hospitals that should receive special attention from cleaning staff include:

  • Infected patients’ rooms
  • Common areas and stairways
  • Waiting rooms and offices
  • Nurses stations
  • Information desks and seating areas
  • Hospital cafeterias and dining facilities

Hand Washing

One of the simplest and most effective ways of preventing the spread of infection is by having hospital staff and visitors practice proper and regular hand washing. By using liquid or foaming hand soaps and thoroughly scrubbing hands for 20 seconds or more, nurses, doctors and visitors can significantly reduce that amount of germs carried on their hands.

According to the World Health Organization, hand washing should be performed before touching a patient, before any cleaning procedures, after exposure to body fluids, after touching a patient, and after touching a patient’s surroundings.


Testing Success

The effectiveness of a program to reduce hospital infections should be measured with tangible results. Hospital staff can use an adenosine triphosphate (ATP) meter to measure levels of bacteria on point of touch surfaces and other common use areas in a hospital. Randomizing this type of testing can help give hospital staff a sense of how clean their surroundings are at any given time. This information can also inform cleaning staff about what procedures work best for preventing the spread of infection in hospitals.

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Standard Created for School Cleanliness

school-cleanliness-standardSchool Cleanliness Standard

Until recently, there was no standard of cleanliness for the thousands of public schools across the United States. To address this deficiency, ISSA and the Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI) commissioned a group of researchers and scientists to create a comprehensive method for measuring and ranking cleanliness in schools.

The protocol has been named the Clean Standard: K-12, and provides a simple, affordable method of evaluating the cleanliness of important interior surfaces in schools.

Measuring Clean

The standard is a useful and empowering tool for schools and facilities managers. Cleaning staff will now have a way to validate and measure the cleanliness of their buildings and facilities. Understanding how clean high-use areas of a school are can contribute to the overall health and well-being of the student and staff. Having a standard to operate from, schools can identify areas that need improvement, adapt their training protocol for cleaning staff, and better discern how to dedicate budgetary resources (i.e. equipment, training, additional staff, etc.).

The Clean Standard: K-12

The Clean Standard: K-12 is focused on performance-oriented goals that include:

  • Cleanliness levels that can be reasonably achieved by custodial and cleaning staff.
  • Procedures recommended for monitoring and inspecting the cleanliness of a school. The standard has identified quantitative measures used in tandem with more traditional methods of judgement, like sight, touch, and smell.
  • Methods for evaluating and improving cleaning practices and products based on the study’s results.

The commission took care to create an objective and practical standard that avoids favoring or recommending any specific cleaning methods or products. It focuses on the more constructive goal of achieving cleanliness levels by offering an effective system for measurement.

Creating the Standard

A broad approach to gathering input on the standard was taken. The task force wanted an accurate and comprehensive standard that reflected knowledge and experience from across the cleaning industry. Committees were formed to gather information that included service providers, cleaning supply and equipment manufacturers and distributors, select school districts, unions and the National Association of State Boards of Education, among others.

The standard is largely based on Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) meters as a measure of cleanliness on critical school surfaces that staff, students and faculty frequently come in contact with. Adenosine triphosphate is considered a superior indicator of surface soiling or cleanliness, although it does not identify specific types of bacteria that are present on a surface.

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Reducing Slip and Fall Accidents on Clean Floors

slippery-floorSlippery Floors

Slip and fall accidents can be dangerous, both for bodily harm and for liability. Cleaning staff need to be fully educated and trained in how to keep floors clean without making them excessively slippery.

The reason a floor is slippery isn’t always readily apparent. Factors like cleaning products, improperly applied finish, and poor equipment can all contribute to slippery floor conditions.

Cleaning Solutions

Safe and effective cleaning methods are one of the best ways to assure floors are suitable for use. Approaching floor cleaning with an eye for detail and a penchant for thoroughness will help reduce slippage. Properly cleaned and finished floors should have minimal slippage.

Some reasons for slippery floors and solutions are:

  • The wrong chemicals or cleaning products were used. Whatever product you use to finish a floor with, it should say on the label that it is slip resistant. Higher quality products, though often more expensive, are also usually worth the investment and will provide a better surface after a floor is cleaned. A good all-purpose cleaner used in tandem with a clean mop and bucket will do wonders.
  • Finish was improperly applied. Getting the right amount of finish on a floor is paramount to how slippery the floor may become. Too little or too much finish can both result in a slippery floor. The best approach is to apply three or four modest coats, checking for slippage before adding more. By testing a floor after each coat, you will gradually find the sweet spot.
  • Dirty or over-saturated mop. Mopping a floor with a dirty mop will result in a dirty, oftentimes slippery, floor. Use floor treatments that are non-oil based, and make sure your dust mop is clean.
  • Dirty tools. Buckets, floor mops, scrub brushes and machine washers can all become dirty, grimy and greasy over time. Thoroughly cleaning buckets, using new mop liners and mops when refinishing floors and keeping washing equipment clean and well-maintained will help reduce slippage.

In extreme cases where a floor has been mistreated or damaged over a long period of time and remains slippery, a floor may need to be stripped and refinished. Machine scrub a damaged floor before resorting to stripping, however. Sometimes a thorough wash with a powerful machine can set things straight.

The most important thing a cleaning agency can do to keep floors minimally slippery is regular, proper cleaning with high quality products, all-purpose cleaners and equipment.

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Are Toilets Cleaner Than Cell Phones?

smart-phone-germsToilet vs. Cell Phone

According to a new study, our smart phones are harboring more than text messages and e-mails. The average cell phone is host to more than 25,000 bacteria per square inch. You read that right, 25,000+ bacteria per square inch. That number easily makes our phones one of the dirtiest things we touch and use every day, far outpacing even public toilet seats, which are home to only 1,200 bacteria per square inch.

5 Things Cleaner Than Cell Phones

Because they are kept warm by frequent use and proximity to our bodies, are touched and used every six minutes on average, and are rarely cleaned or disinfected, cell phones are a prime breeding ground for bacteria. Most of the things we consider to be the dirtiest things we encounter each day don’t even come close.

Our cell phones are dirtier than:

  1. A public toilet: The poster child for germs and filth, public toilet seats are relatively clean compared to other things we interact with on a daily basis. They host an average 1,201 bacteria per square inch.
  2. Kitchen counters:  Covered daily with germs from coffee cups, food scraps and uncooked meat, kitchen countertops clock in at 1,736 bacteria per square inch.
  3. Dog dish: We’ve all heard about how, technically, dog’s mouths are cleaner than human mouths. That doesn’t keep the germs away from their dog dishes. Fido’s food bowl has 2,110 bacteria per square inch, on average.
  4. Self-serve checkout: Saving a few minutes at the check-out line in the grocery store could have you
  5. Doorknobs: Door knobs are the only offender that comes close to cell phone bacteria saturation. These culprits contain 8,643 bacteria per square inch.

Keeping Your Phone Clean

Part of the high bacterial rate could be that despite educational campaigns, Americans aren’t very good at washing their hands.

There’s no doubt that the cleanliness of your phone is related to the cleanliness of your hands. By practicing effective and regular hand washing techniques, you may be able to prevent excessive build-up of bacteria on your cell phone.

Proper hand washing techniques include:

  • Thoroughly washing and scrubbing hands with hand soap for 20 seconds. Washing for less than 20 seconds can be almost useless in terms of killing and eliminating germs.
  • Scrubbing between fingers, under nails and on both sides of hands.

Research has been gathered that suggests men and women are more likely to wash their hands in clean and well-kept public restrooms. Facilities managers can also provide automated foaming hand soap, faucets, soap dispensers and dryers to prevent cross contamination of germs.

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Consumers Prefer Environmentally Friendly Companies

Green-companiesCustomers Prefer Green Companies

Creating policies, products and practices that benefit the environment is an important part of corporate social responsibility. What has been long considered a “feel good” way of doing business is now becoming the status quo according to a new survey conducted by Cone Communications and Echo Global. Environmental concerns ranked number two on the list of issues people want corporations to publicly communicate the most, right after plans for economic development in their local communities.

Moreover, consumers are looking to corporations to drive environmental responsibility forward, not just passively participate.

Communicating Change

The survey also found that consumers want corporations to communicate their environmental impact, whether it is positive or negative. A large part of what the public considers corporate social responsibility appears to be transparency and communication.

Corporations and Green Cleaning 

Advocating for environmental changes can take many forms in the corporate sphere. One area that can have a significant impact is the products and methods that are used to clean corporate facilities. Harsh chemicals and detergents often leave residues, end up in the water supply and create harmful environments for cleaning staff and corporate employees. By being proactive about using environmentally friendly products like hand soaps, all-purpose cleaners and degreasers, corporations can improve their corporate social responsibility profile and help make green cleaning the industry standard.

Companies can improve their environmental impact with green cleaning by:

  • Using a green all-purpose cleaner. All-purpose cleaners are the backbone of every cleaning staff. Use on everything from floors and walls to tables and countertops, all-purpose cleaners are pervasive throughout corporate buildings and facilities. Using an environmentally all-purpose cleaner reduces harmful residues and chemicals that end up getting washed down drains, on people and released into the atmosphere.
  • Switching to environmentally friendly foaming hand soap. Foaming hand soap and automatic soap dispensers are becoming more popular not just for their convenience, but also for their positive environmental impact. Foaming hand soap is considered more sustainable because, compared to liquid hand soaps, less of it is wasted. Foaming hand soap rarely drips or leaks onto the floor, and when paired with an automatic dispenser, can be released in controlled, sustainable amounts directly into users’ hands. Using a green formula for foaming hand soap ups the ante. Restrooms are high-traffic, heavily used parts of any company. Changing the products in them for the better can have a significantly positive effect on the environment.

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5 Dirtiest Places in a Restaurant

restaurant-cleanlinessFood Safety Starts with Cleanliness

Going out to eat is a treat. Having food prepared and served in a clean environment is an expectation most of us take for granted. Cleanliness is paramount to food safety. So they next time you are out to eat at your favorite restaurant, keep your eyes on these five indicators of restaurant cleanliness.

5 Restaurant Trouble Spots

  1. Restrooms. This one may seem like a no-brainer. Bathrooms are frequently used, high-traffic areas in restaurants. They are bound to accumulate dirt, grime and germs. Staying on top of restroom cleanliness is paramount for restaurant owners, however. Online reviews and anecdotes about dining experiences are rife with how clean or dirty a restaurant’s bathroom was. Restaurants can stay on top of restroom cleanliness by:
    • Stocking them regular with paper products, hand soap and towels.
    • Creating a restroom care schedule for staff, or hiring a cleaning company to attend to them daily.
    • Deep cleaning on at least a weekly basis. This will help to remove lingering odors and discoloration on floors and walls.
  2. Floors. Floors are among the first things you notice when you walk into a restaurant. You notice them at your table, at the bar and when you’re walking across them. Consumer polls reveal over and over again that customers value the presence of a clean floor. Restaurants should take care to not only sweep floors, but to deep clean them, paying attention to grout, carpet stains, grease and grime. Floor cleanliness can be maintained with:
    • A floor cleaning policy that includes several deep cleaning steps beyond simply sweeping. Tiles floors especially should be well-cleaned to prevent grout and tile from staining over time.
    • Regular carpet care. Carpets can not only look dirty, they can also harbor unpleasant odors. Vacuum and steam clean carpets regularly to keep them looking and smelling fresh.
  3. Staff. Restaurant employees communicate the style and feel of a restaurant. They are also billboard for a foodservice business’s level of cleanliness. Food stains on clothing and other items, dirty hands and soiled uniforms are things restaurant patrons notice. They are also important for food safety. Personal hygiene should be promoted by management, and regular hand washing with foaming or liquid hand soap should be performed regularly by all restaurant employees.
  4. Kitchen. The beating heart of a restaurant is its kitchen. Some kitchens are open and visible to patrons. Others are just behind some swinging doors. The cleanliness of the front of house is often a reflection of the cleanliness of the kitchen. And even if it isn’t, customers will likely think it is. A clean kitchen is important for food safety, of course, but also for the safety of staff. Greasy floors, slippery surfaces and dirty equipment can all pose risks.
  5. Tables. Dirty tables are quickly picked up by customers’ radar. And few things are more unappetizing than sitting down at a dirty table that has remnants of food and grime from previous diners. Staff should wipe tables clean between seatings with an all-purpose cleaner. After hours the tables and the areas around them should also be deep cleaned to prevent build-up of dirt, germs and odors. Customers interact more directly with a table than any other part of a restaurant. Cleanliness here is extremely important.

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Tips For Cleaning Hard Floors

hard-floor-cleaningHard Floor Cleaning

Among the most ubiquitous of cleaning projects for any commercial cleaning staff, the cleaning of hard floors is a simple task. Even simple tasks can be done with excellence. Floors are one of the parts of a building that are the most interacted with, draw a lot of attention and are very visible. Cleaning them well is essential to keeping your client satisfied and maintaining your cleaning contract.

Cleaning Tips

There are two basic types of hard flooring: resilient and non-resilient. Special care should be taken when cleaning each type.

Resilient Flooring

Resilient floors live up to their names: they have an amount of give and a relative softness that makes them comfortable to stand on. This quality also makes them less durable that non-resilient flooring like tile, marble and hardwood. Chairs, furniture and other heavy or large objects may gouge, scratch or imprint the surface of resilient flooring.

To maintain resilient flooring, it is important to control soil, grit and dirt from building up and causing damage to the surface. Sweeping and mopping are effective cleaning methods. It is wise to use a nonabrasive cleaner or an all-purpose cleaning product.

While cleaning resilient floors:

  • Avoid abrasive cleaners and tools or equipment that make blunt contact with hard components. Find a good all-purpose cleaner.
  • Solvent-based polish, harsh detergents, paste wax and other products that create a shiny floor surface should be avoided.
  • Consult the manufacturer’s recommendations if you are in doubt about how to properly clean a vinyl or other resilient floor surface.

Non-resilient Flooring

Tile, marble, hardwood, stone and other solid flooring materials are referred to as non-resilient. They do not have the softness and give of resilient flooring. They do, however, have incredible durability, resistance to staining and scratching, and a long lifespan.

Keeping them looking new means keeping them clean. Make sure you understand what kind of non-resilient floor you are dealing with before cleaning it. Ceramic tile flooring, for instance, doesn’t require special cleaning products or care. Coarse tile or stone have unique needs and should be cleaned accordingly by a trained professional.

Cleaning non-resilient flooring begins with sweeping or gently vacuuming to remove dirt. Using a mild detergent or all-purpose cleaner mixed with warm water, wash the floors using a soft cloth or mop. Using a soft mop isn’t recommended, as they can force dirt and soil into grout or spaces between hardwood strips. Change the water as necessary. Buff dry and watch them shine!

Hard floors are meant to last. Keeping them clean improves their visual appeal and extends their life. Use proper cleaning products and techniques and the hard floors you service will look new for years.

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Deep Clean Your School This Summer

school-deep-cleanSummer Deep Cleaning

The natural cycle of the school season provides a unique opportunity for cleaning during the off-months. Summers create an opening in the normally hectic school year schedule for cleaning staff to deep clean buildings and give attention to areas that need extra cleaning and repairs.

School’s Out

Students traditionally have summers off from school. While they are working summer jobs, are at home relaxing or are going on family vacations, janitorial and cleaning staff are often in the middle of their busy season. While many school facilities host training camps and summer school programs, many do not. Those that do are still operating at a much lower capacity than during the regular school year. With fewer students and faculty using the classrooms, hallways and cafeterias, custodial and cleaning staff have an opportunity to take on thorough cleaning and repair jobs.

While regular cleaning is maintained throughout the school year, some cleaning jobs need more time and space to be done well.

With empty or reduced-use schools to work with, cleaning staff can focus on:

  • Thoroughly scrubbing and cleaning floors.
  • Deep cleaning foodservice floors and equipment.
  • Gymnasium cleaning: bleachers, floors, seats, locker rooms, showers and equipment.
  • Vacuum and thoroughly clean dorm buildings, including common areas, game rooms and individual dorm rooms.
  • Window washing.

Green Cleaning

The health, safety and happiness of students is paramount at any school. Part of the bigger picture is the environment in which they learn in. Using green cleaning products that are healthier for people and the environment is a simple choice that schools can make to improve their learning spaces.

National Purity full line of green cleaning products is designed to be sustainable and eco-friendly. High-traffic and high-use areas in schools can greatly benefit from adopting green cleaning practices and green cleaning products. Conventional chemical cleaners can leave unpleasant residues that actually become harbors for dirt, grime and germs. A school environment is a place where germs can be spread quickly.

Improve Your School’s Health

Green cleaning products help reduce the amount of residue and grime build up on sinks, toilets, fixtures and faucets. This safe, healthy and clean environment maintained with effective green cleaning can also save your school money by improving the health of your faculty and reducing the amount of cleaning that needs to be done. Foaming hand soaps, in particular, are wasted less and create less of a mess on slippery bathroom floors.

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Defining Sustainable Cleaning

Practicing Sustainable Cleaning

green-cleaning-practicesGreen cleaning and green cleaning products have established themselves as more than a trend. Increased awareness and demand for green cleaning services are creating a culture of sustainability in the cleaning industry. By the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) definition, sustainable practices are those that create conditions where humans and nature productively coexist while meeting the economic and social needs of a population.

Reigning in Consumption

An essential part of creating sustainable cleaning products and services is forming a culture of controlled consumption. Limited consumption can affect everything from packaging to the type of all-purpose cleaner you use.

Your cleaning company can look for ways to reduce consumption in these areas:

  • Packaging. Packaging is a major source of waste. From petroleum-derived plastics and polystyrene packing materials to cardboard and other paper products, the packaging your equipment and products comes with has an impact on how sustainable they are. You can lower your packaging consumption by selecting green cleaning products that are minimally packaged, or that are packaged with recycled materials.
  • Chemicals. The United States has legalized the use of more than 80,000 different chemicals, many of which are used in cleaning products and equipment. The cleaning industry has many sustainable options that use fewer chemicals than standard or conventional cleaning products. The use of green cleaning products that use natural cleaning agents insteaad of harsh chemical compounds is considered more sustainable. It reduces the amount of chemical consumption while at the same time creates less chemical pollution that ends up in the air and water. Reducing your reliance on chemical cleaning products will have less of a negative impact on the environment, and may save you money as well. By using simple, natural cleaning compounds, your budget will be less burdened by expensive chemicals.

Health Factors

The health of the planet is a major motivating factor behind the green cleaning establishment. Equally as important is the health of people who interact with cleaning products. Harsh synthetic chemicals used for cleaning can be harmful is breathed or swallowed. They also often leave surfaces with a chemical residue. That residue ends up both on humans and in the environment. Residue from chemical cleaners can also attract more dirt and grime that can harbor germs and other microbes.

National Purity’s Green Cleaning Products

National Purity offers a full line of green cleaning products. Our hand soaps, degreasers and all purpose cleaners are created to be sustainable for cleaning staff and the environment.

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