While seeking out environmentally-friendly floor cleaners is encouraged, Silverman warns of greenwashed products that look like they might be green, but aren’t. To simplify the search, she recommends looking for a third-party certification from Green Seal, ECOLOGO or the US Environmental Protection Agency’s Safer Choice.

“Certifications verify the product has been tested in their labs, meets specific criteria and is deemed safe for the user and the surface,” she says.

Green products are a start, but they are only one component of an overall program. BSCs should also evaluate cleaning processes in an effort to be more sustainable.

For example, Carrizales says the best “green cleaning” method is to establish and commit to an overall floor care program. For hardwood floors that require a finish, he believes product is key. But once the floor is finished, daily scrubbing to keep dirt from getting embedded would be the next step.

Silverman agrees, stressing the importance of using “the correct disc or floor pad for the floor you’re cleaning. It should clean the surface, but not hurt it.”

The amount of traffic the floor sees defines the remainder of the program, says Carrizales. Heavily-trafficked floors might require monthly interim maintenance, while a less-traveled floor may only need to be cleaned once a quarter.

“Using an orbital floor machine, a surface preparation pad, and water will remove one to 1.5 layers of finish with no chemicals needed,” he says. “The wastewater can be flushed down any drain and go through the normal treatment regimen. Then, place a coat or two of finish on the floor and they are back to new without the use of caustic strippers.”

Carrizales explains he’s dealt with facilities that have used a similar program and have not had to do a full strip and finish for more than 15 years.

Floor Care Quantified

It’s important that BSCs demonstrate how floors are being taken care of by using data, which can leverage more business opportunities and improve customer trust. While several methods exist — paper forms, Excel spreadsheets, electronic logging or a personal digital assistant — the key is having a system that’s easy both for the user to record and client to follow.

“Contracts usually have documentation written into them on how often you’re required to perform floor care,” says Schneringer. “You must fulfill those contract guidelines.”

Documenting tasks forces accountability and can be tracked by both the BSC and the client. It can be as simple as having a pre-printed checklist where the janitor marks the time the cleaning was done and initiates it.

“It can also be a more technical software-based system, some of which produce reports daily, weekly or monthly,” says Carrizales. “If a BSC begins a documented program that establishes a clear link between cleaning and reduced customer complaints, then it can use that as the basis for an increase in cost-per-square-foot revenue.”

Having a documented program eliminates any gray area. It also establishes a basis for trust that the job was done and done correctly.

Other ways to prove the value of floor services are bacteria counts and coefficient of friction (CoF), said Gillette.

“If you can present before and after data illustrating the bacteria count is significantly lower after cleaning, or that the CoF is closer to the acceptable range (CoF 0.5-0.8), then improvement in conditions can be verified,” says Gillette. “This data is not easily gathered, however, and results vary depending on the methods used.”

In creating a well-rounded floor care plan that factors in proper use of chemicals, equipment and recordkeeping technology, BSCs can assure clients that their facilities are not only aesthetically pleasing, but safe in an era when it matters most.

Heather Larson is a freelancer based in Tacoma, Washington.

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Quality Floor Care Programs Prevent Germs, Promote Health