Pensive doctor of chemical engineering aided by AI pondering how to identify a substance with desirable therapeutic effect. Concept for drug discovery, formulation and development, biological target.

The commercial cleaning industry used to be just a broom, bucket, mop, and spray bottle with some chemical and a rag. In some places it still is, but more often than not it is filled with sustainability, machines, technology and innovations. Facility management has become part management, part logistics, part human resources, part finance, part chemistry knowledge and part research. There is a lot to know.

Prevalent in this new frontier is the confusing marketing of many companies. People almost need to be a private detective to weed out half-truths from exciting new breakthroughs. Luckily there are people, peers, experts, trade magazines, websites and events to help everyone learn what is new and true.

Some of the most confusing ideas in the commercial cleaning industry center on cleaning, sanitizing and disinfecting. With innovation, new formulation and chemical classes, it can be confusing to understand which chemical formulations or equipment work best. Then factor in what is sustainable, less toxic, and could help save time and protect public health, and anyone could feasibly run away screaming and look for another career. Only the strong and caring stay.

Cleaner Considerations

So, what is cleaning? Simply, it is the removal of soils. What is soil? It is many things: dirt, dust, food, germs, debris, and anything left behind by the use of a facility. It can be sand from the beach, salt from the snow melt, leaves from the trees, mud, pollen, pencil shavings, crumbs, germs or chalk dust.

A clean environment helps people be happier and improves cognitive ability. Everyone feels better and healthier if cleaning is done right. At the basic level of cleaning, it’s important to understand which chemical solutions are being used.

So again, cleaning is removing, plain and simple. But this is where simple ends. Cleaning solutions have to be looked at for the following:

  • Are they third party certified? If not, why not? What is prohibiting them from being certified?
  • Are they formulated for the job they are intended and being used for?
  • Do they need to be rinsed after use? This is a time and labor issue.
  • Do they have fragrances and dyes in them? These additions can be problematic for workers and building occupants within the facility.
  • Is there a cleaner needed for each substrate, or can one chemical be used for more than one application? Say an all-purpose cleaner that can also do floors and glass, for example.
  • How is the cleaner applied and taken up? Again, this factors into labor and workloading.
  • Is exposure to the product likely to cause health risks to the worker or building occupants within the facility? Chemicals that negatively impact health can result in consistency of cleaning, worker compensation, turnover, etc.
  • Does the solution impact indoor air quality (IAQ)? Are there volatile organic compounds (VOCs) in the product? Negative VOCs can lead to sick building syndrome, impair cognition in workers, staff and students, as well as leave residue.
  • If looking at a new process or equipment, is there data that shows the system works? Is that data good and verifiable? To make sure, ask questions, understand the numbers and consult a third party source, if needed.
  • Is this new cleaning solution or system less toxic than other options? Does it work and is it sustainable? Ask your peers, go to events and trade shows, read trade association magazines and newsletters to compare products. Look at advertisements and ask for information or a demo, trial or pilot to validate claims.

next page of this article:
Five Chemical Considerations And How They Fight Infections