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Measuring Green Cleaning

September 19, 2010
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For years, we''ve heard cleaning professionals say, "I would use ''green'' cleaners — I''d even be willing to pay a bit more for them — but the performance just isn''t there."

Yet, those of us who have lived and breathed the green mantra that has all but revolutionized the cleaning industry in the last few years know that today''s green cleaners are not our parents'' environmental and performance wannabes.

Many manufacturers have worked hard — and spent millions of dollars — to produce today''s more environmentally responsible and effective cleaning options.

But, while we have several certifications in place to prove the "greenness" of products — offered by such reputable organizations as Green Seal Inc., TerraChoice Environmental Marketing''s EcoLogo Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency''s Design for the Environment (DfE), several of which include efficacy benchmarks — we have had no measurement effort that speaks solely to the performance of green products.

As professionals, we''ve had nothing to help us answer that age-old customer question: "Great, it''s green! But does it work?"

Now — thanks to the International Executive Housekeepers Association Inc.''s (IEHA) new High-performance Cleaning Product (HPCP) testing program — we''ll be able to answer that question with an independent, third-party, research-backed effort.

What HPCP Is And Isn''t

Developed in conjunction with the University of Massachusetts Lowell''s Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI), HPCP is the first and the only program from a cleaning industry association designed to focus solely on green cleaning product performance, starting with hard surface cleaning products.

HPCP is not a certification or a standard; it''s a testing program aimed toward raising the environmental bar by encouraging manufacturers to produce products that are not only less toxic and safer, but that also offer optimal results in specific cleaning applications.

HPCP is designed to show that a green product has been tested on real-life soils and found to work — and work well.

High-performance Sales

Besides raising the bar for manufacturers, HPCP is a powerful tool that can help savvy professionals raise their bottom lines.

Consider just a few of the advantages of using green, validated high-performance products:

  • Health and safety: In addition to being safer for the environment, building occupants and cleaning workers, green products tested for high performance in the TURI program have been tested on real-life soils and proven to produce superior cleaning results; by excelling at removing soil — especially organics — they reduce the spread of disease.

  • Productivity: Several studies show employees work faster, better and experience fewer sick days in greener, healthier environments. Moreover, products proven to be effective require less labor and allow workers to perform cleaning tasks with greater efficiency. In addition, products that are performance-tested can be pre-selected as appropriate for the job, eliminating the time wasted experimenting with different products until one is found that works.

  • Cost reduction: Although green products have long been accused of costing more, many forget the cost savings associated with a cleaner, healthier workplace, such as lower health care premiums, fewer sick days, reduced workers'' compensation claims — even fewer environmental and health-related lawsuits. In addition, a product that has been tested on real-life soils and proven to work requires less product and less labor. This translates into better health for workers and building inhabitants at a reduced cost.

  • Validation: By identifying the most effective green cleaners by category, the HPCP testing program removes the guesswork from the buying process and validates the buyer''s choice of product. With HPCP, the testing has already been done.

These are just a few of the advantages afforded by the new HPCP program.

For more information about test protocols and to submit your products for testing, please contact Allen Rathey at

Dr. Jason Marshall attended the University of Massachusetts Lowell, earning a Bachelors of Science in Chemical Engineering in 1995, a Masters of Science in Environmental Studies in 2001 and a Doctorate of Science in Occupational & Environmental Hygiene in 2008. In 1997, he was employed by the Toxics Use Reduction Institute (TURI) working in the Surface Solutions Laboratory as a technician, evaluating the performance of alternative cleaning products. During employment at the TURI, Marshall has published several articles focusing on the work conducted at TURI''s laboratory.

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