Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

The Curiosity Of Chemical-free

May 4, 2012

Earlier this year, the Chemical Free Cleaning Network (CFCN) organized a daylong event centered around the concept of cleaning with little to no chemicals.

Hosted by Nova Southeastern University (NSU) on February 21, the Chemical-Free Cleaning Expo was attended by hundreds of individuals and saw nearly two dozen exhibiting companies touting products like ozonated water and services such as thermal remediation.

This intriguing event focused on two main goals: Protect our health, safety and the environment, and save money in the process.

Attendees benefitted from various expert presentations, informative panel discussions and hands-on exhibits, displays and demonstrations — all of which helped to lend positive fodder to questions such as, "Do electrolyzed, ozone-based, ionized, steam vapor and other water-based products really work?"

Of particular interest was a presentation given by Ruben Rives of PSS/H2Only Renewable Cleaning, a contract cleaning company that hygienically cleans without the aid of toxic chemicals.

Rives has proven through a pilot program at one of the elementary schools for whom his company cleans that absenteeism and asthma rates can be lowered and overall cleanliness and morale increased by removing chemical formulations from the cleaning equation.

Beyond The Obvious

According to Vince Elliott, founder of Elliott Affiliates Ltd. and president of the CFCN, "I understand the concern for a literal reading of the words ''chemical free.'' They must be seen as a structured model for communicating broad alternatives to toxic cleaning products — in the same way the ''green'' is used throughout the industry to stand for alternatives to traditional products. Similarly, ''chemical free'' is a construct, an idea and a broad concept for talking about lots of toxic-free, chemical-free alternatives that exhibit no harmful chemical residual after the cleaning event."

So, the concept of chemical-free cleaning encompasses much more than the chemicals or tools used in the actual cleaning process.

Instead, chemical-free cleaning incorporates things such as measuring devices and monitors that help prove cleaning outcomes, microfiber and other textiles that significantly reduce the need for water and detergents and consultation services that teach best practices that can help save time, money and the environment.

Technologies like high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filtration and ultraviolet (UV) light disinfection, too, are contained in the chemical-free cleaning concept, as they help reduce cleaning loads and contribute to cleaner, healthier environments without introducing chemicals or leaving them behind.

In its most broad perspective, chemical-free cleaning even includes things such as living walls or other interior plantscapes that naturally clean toxins out of the indoor air.

Given the increased asthma rates among schoolchildren, reports of virulent superbugs and the general understanding that we should be removing soils from surfaces rather than depositing chemicals onto them, we can expect to see an increased acceptance of chemical-free cleaning.

And, as more people like Elliott push for the chemical-free cause, we could see the issue flow into the mainstream conscience.

After all, today''s norm — green — wasn''t so commonplace a few short years ago.