It used to be that the commercial cleaning business was a fairly simple, low-tech affair—a mop, a bucket, some rags, and a few cleaning chemicals were all you needed for most jobs. These days, however, the products and equipment used by BSCs are far more advanced and high tech. Even more, today’s modern cleaning gear allows BSCs to not only do their jobs more effectively and efficiently, but the equipment and products are also designed to be friendly and nontoxic to the environment. In fact, going “green” has evolved from something that only a few of the most forward-thinking companies are doing to something that’s mainstream among nearly all BSCs. The following collection of products, equipment, and innovations are among the latest developments to hit the commercial cleaning industry and should help propel the business to the next level.
Backpack Vacuums Offer Enhanced Convenience and Comfort
For years, traditional vacuums offered limited mobility due to the fact that they had to be used near an electrical outlet and were tethered by a power cord. However, the introduction of battery-powered backpack vacuums freed BSCs from this situation. This year, ProTeam is looking to take backpack vacuums to the next level with the introduction of their GoFree Pro.
ProTeam President and CEO Matt Wood called his new product, third in the company’s line of Next Generation backpack vacuums, the “holy grail of mobility and productivity” for the cleaning industry. The GoFree Pro eliminates the need for a cord via the rechargeable lithium power battery that runs for about 55 continuous minutes. In addition, the machine’s FlexFit harness fits securely to the body in order to allow greater ease of motion and to distribute the weight of the vacuum, reducing the burden on the user. The triangular shape of the vacuum is also designed to distribute weight on the center of gravity for improved balance and mobility.
The GoFree Pro features a HEPA filtration system that removes 99.97 percent of particulates 0.3 microns or larger from the indoor environment. ProTeam includes several warranties with the product: a one-year warranty on the battery and charger; a three-year warranty on parts, labor, and motor; and a lifetime warranty on molded body parts. The company hopes to improve the health and well-being of cleaning professionals and building occupants alike with these innovations in vacuum design.
New Disinfecting Wipes Combat Blood-Borne Pathogens
BSCs are well familiar with the demand for infection control in locations like hospitals, schools, and nursing homes, where the occupants are especially vulnerable to contact with pathogens. However, accidents involving blood spills can even occur in offices, warehouses, and other seemingly safe locations, and many times BSCs are called to clean them up.
Not only do cleaning professionals need disinfection practices sufficient to protect the health of clients, but the OSHA Blood-borne Pathogen Standard mandates additional protection for workers who are at risk of exposure to blood or other potentially infectious materials. The express purpose of the OSHA Standard is to ensure employers take all of the necessary measures to prevent their employees’ occupational exposure to pathogens transmitted via bodily fluids.
This year, Spartan Chemical Company introduced Spartan Hard Surface Disinfecting Wipes to meet the industry’s need for a disposable wipe that effectively cleans and disinfects hard surfaces, especially where there is a spill containing blood. The disposability of the wipes reduces the risk of cross-contamination, a major concern in infection control. Throwing the wipes away immediately after clean-up also minimizes contact between workers and hazardous materials. The OSHA standard emphasizes hand-washing as a primary means of preventing the spread of pathogens, but Spartan Wipes can help to disinfect high-touch surfaces that can harbor dangerous bacteria like the “Superbug,” Carbapenem-Resistant Enterobacteriaceae (CBE).
Spartan claims their wipes can kill 99 percent of harmful bacteria like Staphylococcus and E. coli in only 15 seconds, and that they are also effective against viruses from the common cold to HIV-1. The wipes work best on hard, non-porous surfaces and are offered in three different fragrances.
Survey Shows Rising Demand for Advanced Supply-Chain Analytical Tools
As the global economy has grown more interconnected, supply chains have vastly increased in complexity. Companies can buy goods from—and sell goods to—almost anywhere in the world, and supply chain managers are tasked with staying on top of the many diverse and sometimes unpredictable avenues of production and distribution that make up this connection. The ability to collect and interpret huge amounts of data to provide real-time supply-chain analysis is rapidly becoming essential for most large companies—and commercial cleaning businesses are no exception.
A recent survey by Bloomberg Businessweek found that the demand for advanced analytical tools to aid with supply-chain management and forecasting is expected to grow rapidly over the next year. In the survey, 318 executives in companies around the world were polled in order to project future demand for such analytical tools. The research concluded that by 2014 the demand for sophisticated supply-chain analytical tools will increase to 80 percent. The research also showed that over the next year, the need for similar analytical tools that help provide “warehouse management” will increase to 75 percent.
Most supply chain analytical tools are software or web-based programs that help executives to develop a clearer picture of the supply chain as a whole and make better purchasing decisions. The majority of survey respondents would like to see supply chain analytical tools become more predictive, and 73 percent plan to upgrade or replace their supply chain analytical tools within the next two years.
As supply-chain management becomes more complex and globalized, the demand for more advanced analytical tools is likely to continue to grow. To keep their businesses at top levels of efficiency and one step ahead of the competition, BSCs should look to invest in the most advanced and predictive supply-chain analytical tools available.
New Solution Cleans and Deodorizes Waste Receptacles
Few experiences are more unpleasant than the act of cleaning out trashcans and dumpsters containing the foul-smelling garbage of dozens of different people. Waste receptacles are by nature messy, malodorous, and unfortunately, unavoidable, in the work of commercial cleaning professionals. Over the years, people have tried many different methods of combating the oppressive odor of garbage, up to and including the old-fashioned nose pinch. However, a new challenger to that nauseating dumpster smell has just arrived on the scene from Airx Laboratories.
Airx’s RX34 Trash & Dumpster Cleaner with Airicide Odor Control is a heavy-duty degreaser and odor fighter fortified with surfactant and orange oil solvent. RX34 is designed for the purpose of cleaning large waste receptacles, such as compactors, dumpsters, and trash chutes. Workers have the options of using a special dispenser to foam the product onto the surface to be cleaned or diluting it into buckets or spray bottles. Airx’s RX Foamer Dispenser, when hooked up to a water source, automatically dilutes the product with no chemical contact on the part of cleaning staff.
In addition to their Trash & Dumpster Cleaner, Airx recommends the use of companion cleaning products RX30 Deo-Degreaser and RX31 Super Sorbent. Using these three products together should go a long way toward making your trash receptacles not only more clean, but less offensive to the nose.
Transpare Program Shed Lights on Credibility of Green Cleaning Products
While many manufacturers claim their products are environmentally friendly, it can sometimes be difficult to determine how credible these claims are. To combat false or exaggerated claims of a product being “green,” the ISSA and Ecoform recently introduced an online purchasing resource called Transpare that enables buyers and end users to verify the environmental, health, and safety attributes of commercial cleaning products.
Manufacturers that want to be listed on the site must provide data about the contents of their products to Transpare, and this information is then subjected to an ongoing auditing process. BSCs and other parties can access this database to see information of the toxicity, VOC content, biodegradability, absence of dyes and fragrances, skin sensitivity, and other attributes of featured products. Products are listed as either Transpare Registered, if the item is currently being audited for accuracy of data, or Transpare Verified, if the accuracy of the data has been confirmed.
One supplier that is already involved with Transpare is Betco Corporation. Betco currently has five different sustainable products certified and featured in the Transpere database, including Green Earth Peroxide Cleaner, Betco One Step, Clario Green Earth Foaming Skin Cleanser, Clario Clear Foaming Skin Cleanser, Green Earth BioActive Solutions. A few of the other cleaning product manufacturers featured on Transpare include Enviro-Solutions, Ecolab, Spartan Chemical Company, Diversey, and Midlab.
Transpare promises to be useful both to BSCs and to manufacturers. BSCs can make sure they are buying authentic and safe green cleaning products. Moreover, they can also use Transpare to reassure their clients that their green cleaning practices are legitimate. For manufacturers, Transpare provides a valuable forum where they can showcase their products and highlight the efforts they have made to make them eco-friendly.
To access the Transpare database, visit www.transpare.com
New Chemical-Free Technology Improves Floor Scrubber Sustainability and Safety
In the past, BSCs cleaned polished concrete floors with harsh chemicals that were not only harmful to the environment, but they often left floors slippery, increasing the risk for accidents. However, new advances in compact scrubber technology now offer a solution to both of these issues.
The new T-12 Battery-Powered Compact Rider Scrubber from Tennant with the optional chemical-free ec-H2O system allows BSCs to not only clean more effectively for less money, but also reduce their environmental impact and safety. The T-12’s ec-H2O technology electrically converts water into an innovative cleaning solution, so BSCs no longer have to deal with potentially toxic cleaning solutions. According to a third-party study by EcoForm, ec-H2O technology reduces the impact of cleaning operations on the environment in multiple categories. Moreover, the study found that scrubbers equipped with this chemical-free system can scrub up to three times longer with a single tank of water, using up to 70-percent less water than conventional floor scrubbing methods.
The T-12 not only saves water, but it can also save money by eliminating the need to purchase cleaning chemicals and provide chemical-handling training to employees. Finally, ec-H20 is certified by the National Floor Safety Institute (NFSI), which verifies that the technology improves floor traction, which can reduce the risk of slip and fall accidents among employees and clients. The technology leaves floors nearly completely dry, so the new T-12 can even be used in food and beverage-handling environments.
Research Shows Paper Towels Are Hygienically Superior to Hand Dryers
A recent study conducted at London’s University of Westminster found that drying one’s hands with paper towels is more hygienic than using electric hand dryers. Researchers counted the number of bacteria on subjects’ hands and then had them wash and dry their hands using paper towels, a traditional electric dryer, or a high-speed air dryer.
The study concluded that those who dried their hands with paper towels decreased the total number of bacteria on their hands by about 76 percent, while those who used the electric dryers actually saw an increase in bacteria by anywhere from 15 to 254 percent. Researchers also found that electric hand dryers present the problem of cross-contamination. The force of the air blowing out an electric dryer can spread microorganisms to every surface, including human skin, in the restroom. Because of this, researchers at Westminster say that people might actually be better off not washing their hands at all than using an electric dryer.
“These findings suggest that if either a warm air dryer or jet air dryer is the only drying method available, in terms of bacterial numbers, a washroom user could be better off not washing and drying their hands at all,” said Keith Redway, a researcher with the Department of Biomedical Sciences at University of Westminster.
Indeed, the Westminster study’s findings are supported by other research that has compared the hygienic properties of drying one’s hand with air dryers versus paper towels. In June 2012, the Mayo Clinic released a report that reviewed 12 studies of this issue, and the conclusion of the review was that paper towels were superior in controlling the spread of disease, such as the human swine flu virus.
“Most studies suggest that paper towels can dry hands efficiently, remove bacteria effectively, and cause less contamination of the washroom environment. From a hygiene viewpoint, paper towels are superior to electric air dryers,” notes the Mayo Clinic’s report.
All of this research indicates that BSCs looking to increase hygiene and reduce the spread of illness would do well to choose paper towel dispensers over electric hand dryers in the restrooms they service.
Portable Dilution Control Dispensers Provide Enhanced Mobility
Every cleaning professional knows the importance of chemical proportioning. Some choose to stick with ready-to-use products that require no manual dilution on the part of custodial workers, while others opt for pre-portioned packets of chemicals that can be emptied into a bucket of water. A third option is a dilution control dispenser, which generally comes in either portable or wall-mount form. The dilution control dispenser has the advantage of reducing the cost and waste that comes from constantly purchasing new ready-to-use products, as the concentrated chemicals are available in much smaller packages that are less expensive than pre-diluted cleaning solutions.
Staples Facility Solutions recently introduced a new portable dispenser into their line of products intended for BSCs. A portable dispenser is arguably more useful than a wall-mount system to a decentralized cleaning team whose base of operations is not necessarily located in any of the buildings that they service. With a portable dilution control system, BSCs can refill their cleaning solutions in any location that allows them to attach the dispenser to a water faucet. The compact size of the portable dispenser makes it easy to carry from place to place, and it is easily stored alongside other cleaning equipment without occupying an inconvenient amount of space.
The Staples Portable Dilution Control Dispenser has a flow rate of 2.5 GPM with a male quick connector, and the starter kit includes a dispenser, hose, ball valve, and a female quick connector. With greater ease of installation and use than a wall-mount system, the portable dispenser saves time and energy and requires little training to use efficiently.