Mark Petruzzi from GreenSeal in front of green trees

I have discussed the importance of staff training to keep your green cleaning program humming along. With regular training, the daily routines and proper cleaning techniques should be carried out by current staff and new hires according to plan.

Lately though, I’ve been thinking about cleaning situations that arise due to facility occupants or visitors that may impact your daily cleaning routines (e.g., by adding cleaning time) or surfaces in your facility (e.g., by requiring special or additional cleaning, or refurbishment to repair damage).

Birthday parties, late night work sessions, or a crowd of friends in a patient’s room often result in towers of cardboard pizza boxes or takeout containers that may not fit in waste receptacles. These items also tend to be greasy, crumbly or sticky (or all of the above), so when they are placed next to trash receptacles they can make the floor greasy, crumbly or sticky.

Plus, all that eating in an area likely means more cleaning is needed on surfaces high and low, with the possibility of new spills or stains that need to be addressed. Does your team have a cleaning “party plan” in place when they come across the aftermath of those events?

We all know about the dirt, deicing salt and pollen that gets tracked into buildings on the bottom of shoes — and trapped on your walk-off mats. But have you encountered the Blob in a Pocket?

Let’s start with the classic Play-Doh modeling compound. There are wood tables in my house that illustrate how Play-Doh will dull or cloud the finish if left on some surfaces. Whether this is a result of the salt, boric acid or mineral oil components of Play-Doh, or the combination, I cannot say, but introducing this to my environment had an impact.

If my kids are any indication, a related recent trend found in any area where children are gathered is homemade “slime,” typically made using white school glue, baking soda and contact lens solution (glitter is a popular add-in). Slime is usually sent home in a plastic food storage bag, but never stays in the bag for long.

Depending on the recipe used, some slimes don’t have the same effect on wood finishes as Play-Doh; slime does not, however, play well with carpet. Both “wet” and dried slime were challenging to remove from nylon-cut pile carpet, but the dried slime was worse.

The most recent primordial ooze trend is “thinking putty,” which unlike slime is “silicone-based” and comes in a round metal canister for storage between uses. One manufacturer website shares that 70 percent isopropyl rubbing alcohol, WD-40, or dry cleaning chemicals may be needed to remove putty from fabrics, depending on the type of fabric and age of the dried putty. These materials are probably not on the housekeeping cart, won’t have an SDS on hand, and may mean your daily cleaning products won’t work (or might even make the problem worse).

Imagine your staff comes across a neon colored lump of something embedded in the carpet or chair cushion. Is it chewing gum? Play-Doh? Homemade slime? Being aware of current trends in “potential messes” can help ensure that it gets identified correctly and removed efficiently. And you’ll be ready for a sudden run on flattened cardboard boxes when break dancing makes a comeback. 

MARK PETRUZZI is Green Seal’s former Senior Vice President of Outreach and Strategic Relations. He’s in his third decade of striving for more sustainable purchasing and operations by using his engineering powers for good. He can be reached at