Seiche Sanders' portraitI recently entered the restroom of a retail store behind a woman and her 4-year-old daughter. The little girl toddled into a stall, then popped her head back out and said: “Mommy, this one’s clean.” Once she finished her business, she went to wash her hands; her mother reminded her to do a thorough job and use plenty of soap.

At 4, this child already recognized the importance — and necessity — of restroom-related cleanliness. Hand washing alone can drastically reduce the spread of germs that cause illness.

Productive time lost to illness costs the U.S. economy dearly. One study estimates the cost associated with the common cold to be $40 billion annually. Similarly, hospital-acquired, or nosocomial infections, are on the rise. Recently, the husband of SM’s freetime columnist, Gretchen Roufs, acquired a serious infection after a routine cortisone injection in his knee. Luckily, he will recover, although he endured surgery, intravenous antibiotics and a painful recovery.

As time goes on, the concept of “cleaning for health” will play a bigger part in jan/san distributors’ sales strategies. More than ever, it’s “clicking” in end users’ minds that there is an irrefutable link between cleaning and health. Emphasizing the role cleaning plays in illness prevention — and the financial implications of sickness — reinforces a distributor’s message.

Two articles in this month’s issue address some of the cleaning industry’s most relevant products and techniques directly geared toward illness prevention. “Jan/san’s Healthy Revolution,” describes how distributors are working with customers to create healthier building environments; in the Market Pulse Washroom Care article, we look at what’s driving the proliferation of touch-free products in end-user markets.