Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

The Changes Just Keep Coming

May 4, 2012

Advances in technology impact every aspect of our personal lives; computers, smart phones and the color TV are some examples.

Over the last 100 years, the cleaning industry has pretty much stood still.

However, over the last five years, we have seen the beginning phases of an evolutionary process that will totally revolutionize every aspect of professional cleaning.

In the past, we often went through the motions and called it cleaning.

But, many of the processes and products we used didn''t effectively remove soil or contamination.

We now understand that what we can''t see on a surface is more hazardous to our health than what we can see.

The realization that looking clean and being safe and healthy aren''t the same has caused the cleaning industry to change its focus from appearance to health.

Let''s take a look at some of the emerging trends that will impact how you clean floors, carpets and surfaces in all types of facilities.

• Scientific testing

Through scientific testing, we are beginning to get the facts needed in order to determine which equipment, chemicals and processes are effective in removing soil and which ones simply spread the soil around so it''s not offensive or easy to see.

IEHA, through its Integrated Cleaning and Measurement (ICM) protocols, is now using test equipment to verify bacteria, particle count and airborne gasses, film thickness, reflectivity, slip resistance and conductivity.

It is no longer acceptable to say that the work has been done properly; now, the expectation is that you will validate cleaning results with facts.

• Standards

The industry trade associations are researching, writing and establishing standards for cleaning equipment, products, processes and areas.

Already on the books from the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) are standards for chemicals, cleanrooms, carpet cleaning (IICRC-S100), upholstery cleaning (IICRC-S300), water damage restoration (IICRC-S500) and mold remediation (IICRC-S520).

ISSA''s Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS) is leading the way in setting standards and expectations for professional cleaning organizations. Along with standards come accepted definitions, best practices and testing methods for cleaning.

• Environmental concerns

In many areas of the country, green cleaning has become the expected industry norm.

We are seeing new product categories and procedures that include the use and discussion of such things as: Mold remediation, multiple chemical sensitivity, high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters, low-moisture systems, enzymes, seed esters, soy-based products and chemical-free cleaning.

Sustainable development, lifecycle costing, green products and processes, waste stream reduction, indoor environmental quality concerns and recycling are all having an impact on purchasing, procedures and how we go about our daily cleaning tasks.

• Low-moisture cleaning

The latest cleaning systems on the market for carpets, fabrics and hard flooring incorporate low-moisture processes and reduced chemical usage.

Such products and systems are good for the environment, surfaces and the bottom line.

• Waste stream reduction

Due to environmental and economic concerns and resource conservation, waste stream reduction is a primary issue for manufacturers, governmental agencies and end users in all market segments.

Chemical dilution systems, ultra-concentrated products and chemical-free cleaning processes are reducing waste and chemical use.

Keeping up-to-date with the latest changes taking place in our industry and the customers we serve is a job in itself.

Research via publications, attending trade shows and seminars must be an ongoing process that never ends if you want to be on the cutting edge and a real value to your customers.

Staying current with the rapid changes taking place in our world takes time, energy and money.

Some will prepare and prosper; others will complain and talk about how thing used to be in the good old days.

It''s a choice every individual and company has to make in order to survive in tomorrow''s competitive business environment.

Bottom line: If you don''t stay on the cutting edge of the changes taking place today, you will not survive in the fast-paced future of tomorrow.


Bill Griffin is president of the International Custodial Advisors Network (ICAN) and owner of Cleaning Consultant Services Inc. ICAN is a non-profit association comprised of industry professionals providing free consultation services through the Cleaning Management Institute (CMI). Comments and questions about bidding and estimating are encouraged: (206) 849-0179; WGriffin@CleaningConsultants.com.