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Infection Control

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, EcoLogo 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. Let''s consider some of these advantages in a real-world setting.

HPCP In Action

Suppose you are trying to win or keep a government or school account in New York, Maryland, Illinois, Hawaii, Nevada or any of the host of other states that have recently passed — or are considering adopting — a green products procurement policy regarding the purchase of environmentally preferable cleaning products.

For this growing sector of accounts, using green cleaning products is not a question — it''s the law.

However, ask the management of these facilities what matters to them when it comes to cleaning, and along with "safer and less toxic," you''ll hear phrases associated with more traditional, non-green products, such as "gets the surface really clean," "reduces labor" and — especially in the current economy — "saves money."

In short, their concerns will be less about ingredients and more about results.

How does the service provider''s product perform? What makes it different from competitors'' products?

Thanks to HPCP, you can answer these questions with confidence.

Backed by HPCP data, you can assure your customers that what makes your service and green product selections different — and what makes them stand out from the competition — is superior performance.

Under this program, the product has been tested and proven to excel at removing dirt, which keeps staff and facility occupants healthier and more productive, reduces labor and, ultimately, saves money.

In other words, HPCP-tested products are proven to help meet real day-to-day challenges.


The University of Massachusetts Toxics Use Reduction Institute has been evaluating cleaning product performance for 17 years, originally doing so for manufacturing plants seeking less toxic alternatives for industrial parts cleaning.

In recent years, TURI developed tests to determine the efficacy of hard surface green cleaning or janitorial products and, in many cases, has performed such tests for companies seeking to meet the basic performance criteria of green certification groups such as Green Seal or Ecologo.

Most recently, the TURI laboratory recognized that the knowledge and expertise it had gained over two decades of cleaning product performance testing in a variety of settings could be used to raise the performance bar higher — to assist the cleaning industry in taking the performance of its green cleaning products to the next level.

The IEHA/TURI High-performance Cleaning Product testing program was born out of this realization and through discussions with representatives of the International Executive Housekeepers Association.

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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