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Restroom Care

Productivity in restroom care

September 19, 2010
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When it comes to restroom care, the JanSan staples of the past are still pertinent.

Though the materials used to manufacture them and the procedures employed to make their use effective may have changed, the rudimentary basics of restroom care remain.

Everyday cleaning tools like mops, cloths, chemicals and dispensing systems have greatly evolved over the years.

These once basic tools of the trade have become more hygienic, offer more features, garner increased productivity and are more ergonomic than ever before.

Floors, urinals, sinks and toilets still need to be cleaned and disinfected.

Hands still need to be washed, rinsed and dried.

The only thing that has changed about these timeless tasks — thanks to the advancements in restroom care — is that they have become easier and more effective.

Chemical conundrum

Over the years, notably in the past decade, restroom cleaning chemicals have greatly progressed.

Today''s restrooms feature more natural and delicate materials that require chemical formulations safe enough to not cause damage.

These new, environmentally preferable chemicals are capable of cleaning as well as — if not better than — their traditional counterparts can for comparable prices.

"In the past, we used a sledgehammer approach to cleaning with very harsh chemicals," notes Eco Concepts Inc. Technical Director Jim Decker. "New, green products use finesse to clean as well as those old, harsh products with no environmental damage."

By reducing exposure to potentially toxic and harmful cleaning chemicals, the chances of a custodian falling ill (or worse) is greatly reduced, thus increasing worker productivity and morale.

In some instances, the chemical factor of cleaning products has been all but eliminated.

"[Activated water] can save cleaning companies considerable money since it can replace many of today''s general-purpose cleaners and only needs to be purchased once, since it is simply refilled with tap water," says Chris Deets, marketing director for Activeion Cleaning Solutions.

New technologies like this take green restroom cleaning to a higher level.

Cleaners that use activated water rather than chemicals to clean are safer because they do not carry a chemical-related health-warning label.

These new products help ensure the health and safety of cleaning professionals and building occupants while also protecting the environment.

Proportioned productivity

Chemical dispensing systems are an aspect of restroom care that has evolved simultaneously with the greening of chemicals.

A facility can be cleaned with the best available chemicals, but if they are not safely dispensed with the proper dilution ratios, they are effectively useless.

"By ensuring accurate and consistent proportioning of cleaning chemicals, not only can one prevent waste, but one can also prevent costly re-work that can sometimes result from using incorrectly proportioned chemicals," states Bradley Drury, product manager for Hydro Systems Company. "In addition, automated, touch-less cleaning systems can significantly reduce cleaning times, thereby improving productivity."

Today, automated, touch-less systems are becoming more popular as facility managers and cleaning professionals become increasingly aware of the hygiene standards they promote and the productivity improvements they deliver.

Dilution control systems also eliminate waste by accurately and consistently proportioning cleaning chemicals.

Moreover, most dispensing systems are very intuitive in their operation.

"Automated, touch-less cleaning systems are very simple to use and maintain because they are designed around the same components that are used in many wall-mounted dispensing systems," adds Drury. "As a result, cleaning personnel are immediately familiar with their operation and very comfortable using them."

Newer touch-less systems offer additional environmental benefits by reducing water and energy consumption because of their low flow-rate and the use of sealed, maintenance-free batteries as a power source.

Touting touch-free

Following the touch-free trend like that of proportioning systems and dispensers is touch-less hand drying.

In addition to some environmental benefits of using hand dryers instead of paper towels, there are potential cost savings that custodians and facility managers can enjoy: Once installed, dryers require considerably less attention than paper towel dispensers, saving money on labor and maintenance and increasing worker productivity.

"Unlike paper, which can cost $15-$30 or more per case, the energy costs of using a hand dryer amount to pennies per day," notes Bill Gagnon, director of marketing for Excel Dryer Inc. "According to Environmental Building News, the cost per 1,000 uses of paper is $23; the cost of [a high-performance hand dryer] is 50 cents."

Touch-free is not only a good way to increase productivity, but also to curb the spread of germs.

Touch-free means there are fewer surfaces for a restroom patron to touch and cross contaminate.

Less touching means that custodians do not have to clean these surfaces as often, freeing up time to perform other, more critical tasks.

Marvelous microfiber

Just as cleaning chemicals have changed, so too have the most rudimentary tools of restroom care — mops and cloths.

For years, cotton mops and cloths were used for everyday cleaning and periodic maintenance tasks in the restroom.

Cotton, however, becomes heavy once it is soaked in water.

Prolonged use of heavy mops can result in worker injuries such as: Back and neck strain; pulled muscles; shoulder, elbow and wrist tendonitis; injury to finger joints; and other upper body injuries, not to mention fatigue.

Also, by continuously submerging the same mop or cloth into the same bucket of dark and dirty water and continuing to clean, you are cross contaminating surfaces and increasing the chances of spreading harmful bacteria.

"[Microfiber] products are lightweight, easy-to-use and do a better job than the conventional [cloths]," states Kathy Ledford, president and CEO of Microfiber Products Ltd. "Microfiber mops use less water and disinfectant, resulting in less weight to lift and less potential for fatigue and injuries. Mop pads or heads can be easily changed [and laundered] without having to dip [them back] in dirty mop water; therefore, you are not cross contaminating."

Microfiber is an absorbent, lint-free synthetic fiber that attracts and holds dirt and dust particles.

A result of the increased effectiveness that microfiber offers is heightened worker productivity.

"Time is money, and if you can save [time] and provide a superior job, you are ahead of the game," says Ledford.

Tools of tomorrow

Healthy, safe and sustainable restroom cleaning products have reached a level equal to that of traditional products in price and effectiveness.

This has been a quickly evolving trend that just a few years ago seemed like something in the far future.

The future is now today, and the pet projects of the past that hoped to improve worker productivity and product effectiveness are now in the mainstream.

The future of restroom care will not see a reinvention of the mop, so to speak.

What will be seen are improvements that increase the efficacy of the mop, making a cleaner''s job easier and less taxing on building occupants and the environment.

"The key criteria for the future will be safety," concludes Decker. "Products must be safe for the user, safe for the public and safe for the environment."

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