Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online
January 2013 Fact-based Management

Fully Toxic-free, Chemical-free Technologies

The conclusion of a three-part series exploring the idea of a least harmful cleaning model.

January 18, 2013

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

Part two of this series can be read by clicking here.

There are three related categories in the chemical-free construct for eliminating chemical residual:Green Cleaning For Health

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 fully toxic-free, chemical-free technologies.

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

Steam Vapor

This process is called rehydration and works by breaking up the molecular bonds that allow the particles of dirt to stick to each other.

Once rehydration has effectively infused dry or greasy dirt with many times its weight in water, the grime ends up floating in a solution that is simply wiped away through any conventional cleaning process.


Microfiber cleaning cloths and mops are becoming fairly commonplace these days.

Many recognize their ability to outperform conventional paper towels and traditional cleaning cloths since they are composed of microscopic cut-and-wedge hook-type and loop-shaped fibers that more easily trap dirt.

Ultraviolet Light

Looking like normal fluorescent lamps and working in about the same way, these tubes emit their light at an extremely tiny wavelength of 253.7 nanometers.

Ultraviolet (UV) is the type of light that has been proven to be effective in the disinfection and sanitization processes.

Walk-off Mats

An old idea has been combined with new technologies to create an innovative set of fibers that can be added to a wide variety of scrapper, entry and walk-off floor mats.

These fibers are able to remove dirt and contaminants from footwear to a considerably larger degree than the traditional entry mats widely used today.


Most of us recognize that plants have the ability to “absorb” carbon dioxide and then “release” oxygen through a process known as photosynthesis.

Green Wall 2If it were not for plants, there would be no oxygen in our atmosphere for us to breathe.

There are a number of common plants that can filter out a variety of toxic airborne chemicals such as benzene, formaldehyde, carbon monoxide and even arsenic.

Living walls — large-scale plantscapes that incorporate multiple flora — are essentially vertical hydroponic systems.

The key benefit of plantscapes is the removal of the volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are present from solvents, building materials, adhesives, carpets, electronic equipment and common cleaning products.

Pollutants are removed from the air we breathe and filtered in the water hydrating the plants, improving air quality.

Once pollutants are dissolved into the water, they are metabolized by biological components of the plants themselves, transmuted into a harmless state.

Ultrasonic Cleaning

This technology is based on alternating high-pressure and low-pressure sound frequencies to create and collapse vacuum bubbles, a process known as cavitation.

HEPA-filtered Vacuums

Some of the leading high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration units available today can reach an astronomical filtration efficiency rating of 99.995 percent, meaning they will let through one particle for every 20,000 that they capture.

High-efficiency vacuum cleaners almost universally integrate HEPA filtration systems because the technology has been proven extremely beneficial for allergy and asthma sufferers.

Oscillating Floor Machines

The orbital scrubbing floor machine is an innovative product introduced as a toxin-free, chemical-free floor care strategy.

Used in conjunction with the right pad — I touched upon diamond-impregnated pads last month — an oscillating floor machine can prepare resilient hard surface flooring for refinishing and recoating.


A growing number of manufacturers offering water-based floor care machines are entering the market.

Whether the application is through a large commercial scrubber unit or a handheld sprayer more suitable for light-duty utilizations, the advantages of water-only cleaning strategies are clear by the elimination of complex, toxic and expensive cleaning chemicals.

Melamine Sponges

One often overlooked chemical-free tool is the melamine foam pad.

Melamine pads are sponge-like foam scrubbing pads that are mildly abrasive like fine sandpaper with effective scrubbing qualities due to their micro-porous construction.

Pumice StoneWater Drops

Mineral deposits, often called hard water, on restroom fixtures often require a strong chemical to dissolve them.

One chemical-free alternative is the use of pumice, which is solidified volcanic rock.

This strategy uses a non-toxic, non-damaging abrasive product to remove buildup on ceramic surfaces.

Air Purifiers

New air washing technologies have evolved to such an advanced level that they can be combined into air purifier and humidifier systems.

These small units use only tap water and do not require any form of toxic or hazardous chemicals to inactivate and kill the viruses and bacteria that tend to live inside conventional air filtration systems.

You Haven’t Seen Anything Yet

This is the third and final review of the least harmful cleaning strategies discussed in the book Extreme Green Cleaning, Second Edition.Extreme Green Cleaning, Second Edition

The last two articles in this series reviewed both transitional chemical-free technologies and enabled chemical-free technologies.

The fundamental requirement for a toxic-free, chemical-free array of products must result in a strategy that will not ultimately harm us or the environment.

The consistent goal, regardless of what technologies are used, is to create a cleaning result that is inert or otherwise harmless if inhaled, ingested or absorbed by contact.

In this three-part series, we have barely begun to explore the variety of chemical-free cleaning technologies and products available — and, the list grows daily.

We must seriously consider the use of transitional, enabled and fully chemical-free technologies to meet our need for professional appearance, occupant safety and ecosystem health.

Indeed, that means we ought to use traditional and “green” products when better, safer alternatives just won’t work.

Whatever products used, we must also find a way to reduce or eliminate any harm that might come from the chemicals utilized to achieve our goals.

The evolving cleaning model is moving from the limited choice between traditional and “green” cleaning strategies toward natural and chemical-free alternatives as a first choice.