Clean work environments offer many benefits. They allow employees to be more productive, project a more professional atmosphere and perhaps most importantly, they reduce the spread of potentially harmful pathogens that can lead to widespread outbreaks of illness. In the wake of the pandemic, employees are demanding that employers prioritize staff wellbeing. One way to do so is by considering the important role that cleaning plays in upholding health and safety. Access our free e-book that shares best practices for limiting outbreaks and facility closures to protect your employees, reputation and bottom line.
The future of our planet is a growing concern for many citizens worldwide. In fact, a groundbreaking new study by the UN Development Programme (UNDP) surveyed 1.2 million people living in 50 countries about climate change and found that two-thirds (66%) of people think it is a global emergency. Sustainability can manifest itself in many ways, including in the way a facility approaches cleaning and maintenance.
With Earth Day on April 22, it’s the perfect opportunity to learn more about the myths around sustainable cleaning and to create your own goals around greening your operation.
The Truth behind Green Cleaning
Consider the following myths and truths about green cleaning to successfully implement sustainability into your program.
Sustainable chemicals aren’t as effective.
Just because a cleaning chemical is made in a more sustainable way doesn’t mean it won’t deliver on cleaning performance. As with introducing any type of new solution into your cleaning program, it’s important to carefully vet green cleaning chemicals. Take a close look at the ingredients to confirm the product is sustainable, note which pathogens it’s effective against and review the contact time to ensure it will be a good fit for your organization. You no longer have to use caustic chemicals to kill bacteria and fungi and inactivate viruses.
Green cleaning is too expensive.
Too often, sustainability is met with opposition because leaders believe that following environmental best practices will be costly. While it’s true that most green cleaning solutions and processes may require an initial cash infusion to implement successfully, investing in sustainability pays dividends. Companies committed to sustainability often outperform others that don’t consider the impact of their operations.
Green cleaning is too difficult.
Sustainability doesn’t have to be complex. If you’re unsure on where to start, consult with a qualified building service contractor and look to trusted organizations like LEED and Green Seal to understand ways to green facility maintenance and cleaning. These leaders offer certification programs that outline various categories and best practices, as well as guides on certified products to help facility managers jumpstart their sustainability journey.
How Sustainable Cleaning Benefits Everyone
Debunking myths around sustainable cleaning is crucial because a more strategic approach to cleaning supports the triple bottom line. Consider these benefits:
With chronic conditions like asthma and allergies on the rise, it’s important to consider the impact that cleaning solutions have on indoor air and the people who use these spaces. Using sustainable chemicals improves indoor air quality and upholds cleanliness in commercial buildings. This creates healthier environments for facility occupants and visitors. Sustainable chemicals are also safer for staff who clean with them.
The global population is on the rise and our society consumes resources faster than they can regenerate. If every country consumed as much as the United States, we would need five planet Earths’ worth of resources annually. As there is only one planet Earth, finding ways to reduce consumption is critical. Cleaning more sustainably is one easy-to-implement method for limiting waste. Green cleaning can drastically lower water, energy, chemical and plastic consumption, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, water pollution, air pollution and more.
Green cleaning can also support brand reputation, which offers its own unique benefits. Improving image can attract new customers and eco-conscious employees and strengthen loyalty. Today, the public is more in tune with a business’s ethical and environmental report card than in decades past. Sustainability efforts like green cleaning programs can drive a competitive advantage in the marketplace, setting your organization up for long-term success.
Achieving Greatness through Green Cleaning
Facilities realize many benefits through a more sustainable approach to cleaning. This includes energy and water savings, waste reduction, profit, better indoor air quality, enhanced brand reputation and more. Too often, facilities carry on using non-green alternatives because of the myths that exist around sustainable cleaning. This is the way they have always structured their cleaning programs. Today, there are many chemical, equipment and tool options on the market, as well as sustainable procedures that facilities can incorporate to improve the impact on people, the planet and profit.
We believe in the benefits of sustainable cleaning. For more information about our Écologique cleaning program, contact our offices here and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest updates from GSF USA.
Selecting the right chemicals plays a fundamental role in shaping your facility’s cleaning program, as even the most dedicated cleaning staff can’t make up for poor product performance. When deciding which cleaning chemicals to use, consider questions like: Do these chemicals target all pathogens of concern? Are there safety hazards? Is there a simpler alternative? With roughly 10% of all work-related asthma cases being associated with cleaning products, it’s more important than ever to not only consider the efficacy of products but their impact on indoor air quality and building occupants. Read on to learn recommendations for enhancing your approach to chemical selection and cleaning.
Overcoming Chemical Complexity
Purchasing cleaning chemicals is a complex process because there are numerous products on the market addressing different types of surfaces. Many of these come with unfamiliar ingredients. Further complicating this is greenwashing, which occurs when companies make false claims about their product’s environmental sustainability.
However, one way to simplify chemical selection and the cleaning process is with an on-site generator (OSG) that produces electrochemically–activated solutions (ECAS). Made from just water, salt and electricity, ECAS clean and disinfect just as well as other cleaning chemicals without a complicated list of ingredients. ECAS are also fragrance-free, non-irritating and drain- and disposal-safe, making them a safe and environmentally sustainable alternative.
Best Practices for Better Selection
Should you choose to use traditional cleaning chemicals rather than ECAS, you can follow the best practices below for determining whether a product is effective, safe and sustainable.
Closely review the ingredients.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 6% of custodians are injured by cleaning chemicals. Take the time to read product labels to understand the potential risks of listed ingredients. While reviewing the ingredients, ask yourself: Could the ingredients in one product be hazardous when mixed with another chemical? Can I rely on the efficacy of these cleaning chemicals? Are there pathogens of concern that these ingredients don’t address?
Understand how to use a product.
After reviewing the ingredients, read through the product instructions. Learn which surfaces a product can be applied to, how long it needs to remain on the surface to be effective (dwell time) and how it should be applied. Knowing how to use a product ensures you get the best performance from your cleaning chemicals while minimizing potential health risks for employees and building occupants.
Look for cautionary information.
It’s critical to identify how a product could impact cleaning performance and safety. Pay special attention to sections on the label where “WARNING” or “CAUTION” are written, as these are meant to highlight potential issues. Your cleaning staff may need to wear specific personal protective equipment (PPE) to enhance safety when using certain chemicals.
Identify certifications and approvals.
Determine whether a product has a certification or seal of approval from a legitimate third-party organization. This indicates that the claims being made about the product are accurate, which is especially helpful for avoiding greenwashing. For instance, Green Seal is a prime example of a trustworthy organization that provides approval to environmentally sustainable products. Green Seal also certifies cleaning service providers whose processes align with its standards should your operation require additional cleaning support from a building service contractor.
Maximizing Safety for the Best Results
Although it has always been important to consider the health of essential workers, the pandemic has shined a much brighter spotlight on their physical and mental wellbeing. Considering the impact of your cleaning chemicals is just as important as their effectiveness, and critical to building trust among employees and customers. The best way to meet the challenges of the chemical selection process is with ECAS or other safe chemicals that will simplify and improve the cleaning process.
At GSF USA, we use ECAS because we care as much about cleaning safely as we do effectively. For more information, contact our offices here and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest updates.
Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Ill. is a 1,150-student school run by the priests and brothers of the Order of Carmelites and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This highly respected parochial high school provides a well-rounded educational experience through academics, arts and athletics, and fosters a commitment to the community and the environment in its students. The COVID-19 pandemic led Carmel Catholic High School to adopt a hybrid learning plan in August 2020 that allows students to participate in remote learning from home and in-person classes.
With students, faculty and staff meeting on site, the school has placed a high priority on cleaning during the day and evening to reduce the risk of virus transmission and keep the in-person educational experience available to students. GSF USA, a global cleaning services company, cleans the school nightly and Carmel Catholic’s custodial team handles daytime cleaning. The GSF USA team wanted to move away from traditional cleaning chemicals that can have a negative impact on custodial professionals, building occupants and indoor air quality without sacrificing efficacy. This goal aligned with the school’s intent to keep the community safe while also living out its values of protecting the environment.
“Providing a healthier environment for students, custodial staff, teachers and all other building occupants is paramount,” said Claudio R. Hernandez, Area Manager, GSF-USA. “The pandemic has presented new challenges because more frequent cleaning and disinfecting is expected, but it can actually result in adverse effects if the appropriate products aren’t being used.”
In a commitment to provide effective and environmentally responsible cleaning and disinfecting, GSF installed a PathoSans on-site generation (OSG) system at the school. The system uses water, salt and electricity to create PathoClean®, a cleaner/degreaser, and PathoCide®, a sanitizer/disinfectant, on demand and on site. The electrochemically activated (ECA) solutions are readily available, eliminate supply chain issues and do not contain added fragrances or caustic ingredients. PathoCide is laboratory proven to be effective at inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus.*
“We are a big proponent of the PathoSans system because it is a better and safer alternative to traditional chemicals,” added Hernandez. “While some of our employees are new to working with ECA solutions, they have quickly become raving fans after using the cleaner and disinfectant and seeing the positive difference it makes at Carmel Catholic.”
Some GSF professionals were skeptical of the PathoSans ECA solutions at first because unlike more traditional cleaners, they look like water, contain no added fragrance or dyes and do not produce soapy bubbles. However, the employees soon realized that the products are easy to use, do not require labor intensive scrubbing and deliver a better clean. Employees noticed the bathroom floors and walls were cleaner after each application and the solutions were removing both odors and stains. They also like that PathoClean and PathoCide do not harm their skin.
Each night, GSF’s team thoroughly cleans and disinfects high-touch surfaces throughout the school including classrooms, hallways, restrooms and more. When the science teachers learned about the PathoSans solutions being used in the school, they began researching the ECA method of cleaning and disinfecting. They recognized the benefits provided by the sodium hydroxide cleaner/degreaser and hypochlorous acid sanitizer/disinfectant. Many teachers now use the cleaner and disinfectant in their own classrooms and the teachers’ lounge.
The partnership with GSF USA and PathoSans provides Carmel Catholic High School with:
Healthier and safer cleaning for people and the environment.
The PathoSans solutions offer an effective alternative to typical caustic chemicals with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are harmful to people and the environment. PathoClean and PathoCide are non-irritating to eyes and skin. They also do not leave behind an odor or residue. This makes them ideal for frequent use by cleaning professionals in the school where students, faculty and staff may have allergies, asthma or other sensitive health conditions.
Uninterrupted supplies of cleaning and disinfecting solutions.
The PathoSans solutions are produced in house and on demand. GSF knows their team will always have the necessary products to clean and disinfect the school at night and will not encounter supply chain issues. Daily and monthly system maintenance is quick and simple, and ensures that the system continually produces solutions within effective and safe ranges.
School-wide support and commitment to cleanliness.
For added assurance against COVID-19, many of the teachers are embracing the PathoSans solutions and supplementing GSF’s nightly cleaning and the custodial team’s daytime cleaning with their own cleaning and disinfecting efforts in classrooms. Teachers and cleaning staff use PathoClean to remove surface soils, followed by PathoCide to target remaining pathogens. PathoCide is 99.999% effective against numerous bacteria, fungi and viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. Regular use of the PathoSans solutions improves the appearance of surface finishes by removing layers of soil, making the school look cleaner than ever before.
“We are dedicated to doing what is best for the facilities we serve as well as our employees,” said Hernandez. “Using products like PathoSans gives us peace of mind and results in cleaner, healthier schools.”
Download the PDF here:Carmel Catholic Case Study