Much like the impact technology has had on business and commerce during the last decade, the evolution of multi-purpose cleaners and disinfectants has revolutionized the way janitors go about their work.

Gone are the days of purchasing a dozen or more solutions that cleaning crews would be required to lug around as they cleaned and would have to find adequate space to store. Now a janitor is armed with just three or four cleaners and disinfectants to do the same jobs.

Save Product, Space, Money
Cost savings, whether it is the result of a decrease in the amount of product purchased, the amount of time it takes to clean a space or the amount space to store solutions, is the ultimate reason why building service contractors are using multi-purpose cleaners and disinfectants.

“Seventy percent of our costs as a contractor are labor,” says Brian Forcier, the asset manager at Oneida Building Services in Duluth, Minn. “We see the savings on the supply side, which are typically only about 5 [percent] or 10 percent of our costs. But it really affects the labor side, because [we] don’t have a custodian going back for different products, and our trainer, our quality control person doesn’t have to take extra time with the cleaner. That labor side is really where you see the savings.”

BSCs are also saving money by using multi-purpose cleaners and disinfectants due to a decrease in instances of damage, breakage and loss. For example, custodians in the past may have used an abundant amount of bleach to clean restrooms. Bleach would rid the space of their typical odors but would stain carpets that abut the restroom areas.

“Next thing you know, you have two or three inches of discolored carpet,” says Rafael Perez, owner of Mexfil Hotel & Building Services in Houston. “What did that represent for us? Replacing the carpets once or twice a year. In the cleaning business, that is eating away at our profits.”

Space savings is also a big plus for BSCs, who can easily fill storage areas and janitor closets with dozens of products.

BSCs don’t need as much warehouse space as they used to, thanks to the availability and effectiveness of all-purpose products.

Robert Viola, vice president of Genesis Building Services in San Mateo, Calif., remembers when BSCs had to purchase and store large qualities of cleaners and disinfectants. Now, cleaners and disinfectants are purchased in the concentrated form and stored in dispensers in wall-mounted tubs located in janitor closets. This saves on costs associated with storage space and transportation and reduces the dangers associated with having a multitude of cleaners to deal with.

Genesis decided to cut back on the up to six products that were being used to perform the same tasks. The company found a product that, based on conversion ratio, can be used as a glass cleaner and an all-purpose cleaner.

Simpler and Safer
Some companies switch to mult-purpose cleaners to make it easier for employees. Cleaning personnel who work for Oneida Building Services have only one cleaning product with them as they go through their nightly cleaning routine. Forcier says that the product can be used during most cleaning situations that arise, eliminating guesswork on the janitor’s part.

“They don’t have to get confused — if it’s a coffee spot, should they use this, or if it’s a window, should they use that,” Forcier says. “With our turnover the way it is, as high as it typically is in our industry, it’s nice to be able to just have the one product to instruct the new cleaners on, because you could have a new person the next night.”

The accurate dispensers that come with multi-purpose cleaners and disinfectants remove the guesswork from the daily routine of Viola’s staff, which aren’t required any longer to spend a lot of time mixing, measuring and filling. The use of multi-purpose cleaners and disinfectants also streamlines quality control when dealing with multiple locations and different staff.

“Instead of janitors mixing it themselves and eyeballing it and have to figure out how much water goes in, it’s being done correctly. It’s totally saving product,” Viola says.

Multi-purpose products are easier on the budget as well as the warehouse, and can even benefit the environment. Choosing the right ones can result in savings for many BSCs.

Brendan O’Brien is a business writer based in Greenfield, Wis.