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November 2012 Fact-based Management

Enabled Chemical-free Technologies

Part two of a three-part series exploring the idea of a least harmful cleaning model.

November 20, 2012
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To read part one of this three-part series, click here.

There are three related categories in the chemical-free construct for eliminating chemical residual:

  1. Transitional chemical-free technologies
  2. Enabled chemical-free technologies
  3. Fully toxic-free, chemical-free technologies.

In the end, after the specific cleaning activity, all achieve a common result in that there is no harmful chemical residual in the air or on any surface.

What follows is a discussion of the enabled chemical-free technologies.

While no means complete, the following technologies should be explored in the quest to adopt a least harmful cleaning model.

Titanium Dioxide

Titanium dioxide is a widely used and reportedly safe compound.Least Harmful Cleaning Pyramid

It is so common that it can be found in toothpaste, for example.

Titanium dioxide also acts as a powerful photocatalyst, a substance that creates a reaction when it is exposed to light.

What is important about this characteristic is that the photocatalyzing abilities of titanium dioxide have been shown to break down a wide variety of organic compounds.

This process occurs naturally once applied; thus, no labor is involved.

A surface covered with titanium dioxide will actually clean itself when exposed to ultraviolet light (UV) either from an artificial source or sunlight.

It is effective on building exteriors, indoor and outdoor glass and many touch point surfaces.

It is even showing up as a self-cleaning coating in restrooms, which could revolutionize our process of caring for such areas with reduced budgets.


Closely aligned to titanium dioxide, photocatalysts are additives that allow surfaces to keep themselves clean by decomposing organic material.

UV light decomposes many organic materials in a slow, natural process that is visible in the way a dashboard of a vehicle fades and gets brittle over time.

Photocatalysts speed up this process and, like other types of catalysts, stimulate a chemical transformation without being consumed or worn out by the reaction.

Perhaps more importantly, they reduce air pollution by scouring nitrous oxide from the air.

Photocatalysts also have exciting potential for decorative concreting, but they are still seen as being in the technology-transfer phase of moving from laboratory to commercial reality.

Antimicrobial CoatingsCholera Bacteria

Antimicrobial products are unique in their ability to create a long-lasting antimicrobial barrier on surfaces that is effective against a wide range of contaminants.

Some water-based coating products are enhanced by this technology because it inhibits microbial growth.

This is achieved by creating an antimicrobial force field on hard surfaces and textiles.

The cell wall of a microbe is about as thin as a soap bubble; so, this technology works to tear apart the thin cell wall of microbes like bacteria, mold, fungi and algae.

Bacteriostatic Surfaces

A countertop product called silestone has bacteriostatic protection built into the actual material, meaning that it will inhibit or prevent the growth of bacteria and mold on the surface.

While silestone will not prevent food illnesses from improper handling, such as contamination with feces or uncooked meats, it will help to make the countertop areas easier to clean and maintain.

NSF International and other organizations have noted the benefits of this antibacterial surface.

Diamond PadsChemical-free Stripping Pads 2

A diamond pad cleaning system is an effective way to mechanically treat and maintain floors without strong stripping solutions, safety risks or intensive labor.

This cleaning system consists of floor pads impregnated with microscopic diamonds that clean and polish a floor mechanically instead of using traditional chemicals.

Diamond-impregnated pads can be used on most common floor surfaces like terrazzo, ceramic tile, linoleum, vinyl/plastic, natural stone and concrete.

Diamond pad technology transforms dull, worn floors into clean, glossy and brightly polished floors with no potentially harmful chemistry.

Check back next month when we will explore the fully toxic-free, chemical-free technologies.

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