Hard floor care costs, depending on the type of facility, typically account for between 20 to 85 percent of the annual cleaning budget.
Considering the impact that floor care has on the appearance, safety, and health of building occupants, it should not be overlooked when implementing a green cleaning program.
Revolutionary green concepts
Not all green floor care is the same.
Some equipment, chemicals, and cleaning processes are simply greener than others.
The following are some examples of truly cutting-edge and environmentally friendly processes.
Diamond-impregnated floor pads are used to polish marble, terrazzo, concrete and VCT tile, permanently eliminating the need for stripping, burnishing or refinishing.
Bucketless mopping eliminates the need for a mop pail and wringer, while reducing water usage by up to 90 percent.
Autoscrubbers that use electrolyzed water eliminating the need for detergents, speed drying time and reduce water usage by 70 percent.
Spray and vacuum floor cleaning systems that remove more soil and bacteria from floor surfaces than string or microfiber mops.
Activated vapor cleaning systems kill germs and mold, thereby eliminating the need for detergents, sanitizers and disinfectants.
Autoscrubbers that use foam generated from super concentrates reduce water usage by up to 70 percent.
Super-concentrated detergent cartridges provide enough product to clean 1 million square feet of flooring before they need replacement, thus reducing costs and energy consumption associated with the manufacture, storage, transportation, and disposal of traditional dilution rate products.
Low maintenance floor surfaces, such as porcelain and ceramic tile, densified concrete, rubber, laminates, and wood and vinyl tile flooring with mineral coatings that do not require topical finish, burnishing or stripping, cut floor care costs by up to 50 percent.
Green floor care involves the use of preventive measures, fewer toxic chemicals, and technologically advanced equipment along with processes that reduce the need and frequency of resource depleting, time consuming, and hazardous restoration.
In a broader sense, there is much more to green cleaning than just chemicals.
Areas that need to be addressed when implementing a green cleaning program include: Energy conservation, Day Cleaning, sustainable purchasing, building and remodeling, waste reduction, as well as safer maintenance products and services.
We must not overlook the realities of doing the work which means giving consideration to cleaning processes, frequencies, procedures and equipment, along with product effectiveness, ease of use, life cycle cost analysis, carbon footprint, training, and return on investment.
Let’s take a closer look at what owners, managers, and supervisors can do to implement a successful green floor care program.
- Capture and remove soil at its source or entry point. Focus cleaning efforts on where the soil is.
- At least 12 feet of entry matting should be placed inside and outside of all entries and exits and where soil may accumulate or be generated.
- Focus on the high-traffic areas, normally the first 30 to 50 feet within a building. More frequent dust mopping, vacuuming, wet mopping, and burnishing in these areas will capture soil at its source and prevent tracking throughout the building.
- Utilize processes that reduce frequencies. Burnishing is a good example as it delays the need for scrubbing, stripping and refinishing.
- Don’t overdo it. Expend the appropriate amount of effort to obtain the desired results. Set and meet standards, but don’t wastefully exceed them.
- Establish a written schedule based on previous experience and actual needs. Stay flexible. If the work doesn’t really need to be done, reschedule it for a few days to a week or month later. You don’t want to wait to the point that damage takes place, or what are normally maintenance procedures now becomes a restoration project.
- Schedule floor care procedures for off hours so that occupants are not needlessly exposed to odors and wet floors.
- Utilize a systems approach to cleaning to ensure a complete process as well as product, chemical, and equipment compatibility.
- Where possible and practical, use HEPA grade vacuum processes for dry and wet soil removal. Autoscrubbers, carpet extractors, wet vacuums, and spray and vacuum units are examples of these systems.
- Utilize floor machines and burnishers that capture soil with an active vacuum.
- Utilize equipment and processes that reduce water and chemical usage and frequencies. Examples include electrolyzed water, dry vapor, bucketless mopping, foam, and microfiber flat mops.
- Use floor machines and autoscrubbers that utilize moisture reduction systems and processes — foam — as they reduce the risk for slip-and-fall injuries, as well as reducing labor, water, and waste stream generation.
- Utilize fast fill tanks to reduce fill and dump times.
- Use battery systems and motors that are rated for low energy consumption.
- Use equipment that incorporates waste water recycling systems.
- Purchase multi-functional equipment that can be used for more than one task, such as low moisture and deep extraction carpet cleaning or scrubbing and burnishing of hard floors.
- Put in place an equipment maintenance program to reduce or eliminate downtime, excessive wear, and costly repairs.
- Schedule work when areas are not occupied and allow adequate drying time.
- Reduce the number of chemicals used in your cleaning operation to no more than absolutely necessary — usually three or four products is adequate.
- Use only those products that are certified by recognized organizations, such as EPA, Green Seal, CRI, as being green or environmentally preferable.
- Whenever possible, use neutral pH products for daily cleaning.
- Eliminate the use of finishes that contain heavy metals.
- Eliminate products containing VOCs. Replace solvent-based finishes and sealers for stone and wood with water-based products.
- Eliminate or limit the use of bleach and hazardous disinfectants. Focus on cleaning and not killing. Use disinfectants only in those areas where cross-infections are likely to occur. Unless it’s a bathroom, surgery suite, kitchen, or visibly soiled with infectious material or bodily fluids, a disinfectant is not needed.
- Use super concentrates and automated dilution systems; eliminate mix-it-yourself bottles, gallon jugs and aerosols.
- Use natural or bio-based neutral cleaners and disinfectants versus quats and phenols.
- Use dry vapor cleaning as a sanitization process.
- Assure that cleaning solutions and slurries are properly disposed of in diluted form in sanitary sewers and never dumped on the ground, in parking lots, or storm sewers.
Floor care trends
In order to stay current with the changes taking place in the field of floor care, it is necessary to constantly be on the lookout for new materials and processes that will improve quality, while reducing costs and furthering one’s effort to make a program as green as possible.
Some equipment manufacturers change how you sit or stand on an autoscrubber and call it innovative, while other manufacturers focus on sustainability and reduced chemical usage.
According to Kyle Strait, environmental technologies marketing manager at the Tennant Company, “Fundamentally, we are a different company than we were five years ago, but our mission of creating a cleaner, safer world, is the same. Our core company values focus on innovation, quality and environmental stewardship. Doing the right thing is the right thing for business and makes everyone’s life more pleasant.
“As for future innovations, we look to eliminate steps to the cleaning process and make things safer for everyone while offering cutting-edge technologies that provide a robust solution to our customers’ needs,” continues Strait. “On the technology side, I see improvement in batteries, filtration, self-diagnostics and repair, and equipment to provide the operator with a more pleasant experience.”
In order to adequately form a complete green floor care program, you must be aware of the marketplace trends and partner with dedicated manufacturers and distributors.
William R. Griffin, president of Cleaning Consultant Services Inc. in Seattle, WA, has over 25 years experience in the cleaning industry as a cleaner, consultant, and educator. He is the author of the Comprehensive Custodial Training Manual, How to Sell and Price Contract Cleaning, How to Start and Operate a Successful Cleaning Business, and other books and manuals as well as hundreds of articles regarding cleaning, maintenance and self-employment. For more information visit www.cleaningconsultants.com
or (206) 849-0179 or firstname.lastname@example.org.