Corinne Zudonyi

The last 18 months have definitely been a rollercoaster. As of this writing, the details of re-opening facilities are in constant flux. One minute it seems we are back to pre-pandemic normals and the next includes discussions about the re-emergence of mask mandates.

With so much going on and the constant changes from health officials, facility cleaning executives are focusing on what they can control and taking it one day at a time. Topping their list of priorities is a focus on cleaning for health.

Notice, I didn't say cleaning and disinfecting. That's because cleaning for health includes so much more. According to the annual "Facility Cleaning Decisions Management Survey," there is an increased focus on improving hygiene and hand washing programs, minimizing cross-contamination and improving indoor air quality (IAQ).

That last point saw the largest jump in focus year over year — one can assume because of how the SARS-CoV-2 virus spreads through ventilation. But a focus on IAQ and creating a healthy facility environment is about more than just HVAC and the pandemic. Facility cleaning managers are looking at cleaning products and processes across the board that will minimize VOCs.

For example, many types of floors require burnishing, stripping, buffing and waxing. Each step will add emissions from machines or chemicals, impacting the air quality. Capitalizing on facility recovery dollars, many managers are looking for alternative flooring options that will minimize the need for these processes.

It is important to look at VOCs because of the health implications associated. Equipment with poor emissions or chemicals that release harsh fumes can irritate eyes, noses and throats, complicate breathing, cause nausea or worse.

Cleaning for health is important as COVID-19 threatens to resurge, but facility managers know it'll be relevant long after the pandemic, too. Check out our survey for more on departmental priorities, changing budgets, purchasing trends and staffing challenges.