Mark Petruzzi from GreenSeal

Cleaning is complete once you get into the crevices

Thanks to dog claws and children, I recently spent some time refinishing the cork floors in my home. In order to have access to the entire floor, I had to move all the furniture to another side of the house. Not surprisingly, I unearthed numerous dust bunnies the size of real bunnies.

To get the floors ready for refinishing, I vacuumed three times and microfiber mopped twice, but even with all that preparation, I still ended up with dog hair and other small debris entombed in the floor like insects in amber. To borrow from a popular expression: “Dust never sleeps.” It’s everywhere.

For example, I travel with an HDMI cable so I can plug my laptop into the hotel television to watch movies. Have you ever looked behind the television in your hotel room? The dust and cobwebs look remarkably like what you find behind the TV at your house. Now, if it’s not too scary, think about the dust and dust bunnies that might currently be hiding behind the refrigerator.

This phenomenon of dust under, behind and on top of things is not limited to your house. It also happens in your offices, classrooms and guest rooms.

While we may try to purchase and install surfaces, furniture and furnishings that lend themselves to cleaning, we also have to consider underneath, behind and on top of things. Out of sight often means not cleaned.

Your crews may do a great job of green cleaning on a daily basis, but how often do you assemble a team to move the furniture and furnishings? Moving these items to clean is complicated by the fact that they are full of books, supplies and personal items. Even so, it’s a job worth doing, not only for dust, but for pest mitigation — yes, pest mitigation.
I have heard many a tale from pest management staff of what they find when they pull furniture and furnishings away from a wall. So many bookshelves, filing cabinets and storage cubbies are waist or chest height. Items such as food and wrappers tend to get put on top, and sometimes they accidentally spill or fall behind. As a result, rodents and other pests can also take up residence behind the bookshelf or cubbies and survive quite a while without ever having to leave the area.  

The dust in your facility contains dirt, insect parts, pollen, mites, human skin scales and a host of other possibilities. Rodent and cockroach droppings can trigger asthma and allergy attacks and, if seen by occupants, generate complaints about the cleanliness of the facility. Allowing dust to build up in larger dust bunny size amounts can also mean occupants have a higher chance of exposure — to whatever may be in it — if the dust becomes airborne.

Think of cleaning the areas under, behind and on top of things like flossing your teeth. Brushing is good every day, but you do have to floss to get those places where the brush can’t reach. Removing dust from all the hiding places is an important part of cleaning for health. 

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