Is Going Chemical-Free the Next Big Thing in Commercial Cleaning?
The forward momentum of ‘going green’ is persuading many business owners to join the ranks of their environmentally conscious competitors, but will greener cleaning supplies such as split-stream water technology really replace established industrial strength bleaches and powders?
A significant concern for companies has always been the safety of its cleaning staff. While serious injuries are rare, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) government body has worked tirelessly to bring the adverse effects of prolonged exposure to harsh chemicals to widespread public attention.
While switching to pre-portioned chemical packets may undoubtedly save your company money and help to promote a safer workplace practice, the idea that chemicals of any sort can be replaced entirely is a strange notion.
Is Chemical-Free Cleaning Even Possible?
We’ve known for some time that steam is perhaps the most effective means of cleaning and sanitizing surfaces and that it kills 99 percent of germs and bacteria.
The split-stream system utilizes a salt-based, chemical-free process where water is circulated in such a way that gives it an electrical charge. According to deputy assistant director of housekeeping at North Carolina’s State University, Randy Reed, this new cleaning method when trialled was just as effective at killing germs as regular sanitizer.
The technology is still in its infancy and while industry figures don’t yet exist, the executive director of The Green Cleaning Network, Stephen Ashkin estimates that around 30 to 50 percent of institutions and corporations across the U.S. are using eco-friendly cleaning chemicals or are cleaning with none at all.
Discrepancies in What Constitutes Chemical-Free Cleaning
The terms ‘eco-friendly’ and ‘chemical-free’ are often used interchangeably. Most cleaning professionals would argue that chemical-free cleaning is impossible from a practical standpoint and many business owners would tend to agree with them.
The OSHA defines eco-friendly cleaning as any independently certified cleaning supplies that are deemed safe for use and are less harsh on the environment or to one’s health than conventional products such as bleach and ammonia.
The Goal of Chemical-Free Cleaning
The primary aim of businesses should be to create the safest work environment possible whilst minimizing the risk assumed by its cleaning staff. Microfiber cloths which clean and remove germs with only water should also come into the equation.
Ashkin believes that floor finishes and heavy duty-cleaning products will likely never be replaced by these newer cleaning methods however, their use is just one more tool that janitors and professional cleaners will have at their disposal in the near future.
For most SMEs the purchase cost and installation of split-stream water technologies will be a major drawback ultimately setting companies back by about $5,000, an investment that could only be recouped if utilized daily.
The benefits of these new and emerging technologies cannot be understated. For all their advantages however it seems as though it will take some time for the trend to evolve and facilitate a paradigm altering shift if both perception and cleaning practice.