Green cleaning is more popular than ever, and for good reason.
Companies that incorporate green cleaning products and practices are contributing to a better environment, more sustainable practices, and better business.
An educated consumer base is also on the prowl for companies that incorporate green practices into their standard operating procedures.
The power of going green
- Green cleaning can improve indoor as well as outdoor air quality. Many studies link the use of commercial cleaners that use harsh chemicals and detergents to the development of asthma and asthma-like symptoms. Sustainable cleaning programs also reduce emissions during the manufacturing and transportation process.
- It’s contributions to improved outdoor air should not be overlooked, however. By reducing or eliminating the use of harsh commercial chemicals, green cleaning products can improve air quality — but there are other aspects of sustainable cleaning that also add to the effort. By creating more concentrated cleaning products that require less packaging and shipping, sustainable cleaning methods can lower emissions related to transportation and manufacturing, as well.
- The adoption of green products and sustainable cleaning practices that focus on efficiency can reduce the amount of chemicals that enter the environment. This can affect air, soil, and water quality. Given the size of the built environment (all of which requires some level of regular cleaning), a sustainable approach to cleaning can have an incredibly positive impact on the environment.
- Green cleaning products protect more than those who use the spaces that are cleaned and the environment — they also provide more safety for the cleaning staff who use them. Generally speaking, green cleaners are not corrosive, they meet inhalation toxicity standards, are usually non-combustible, and are not as harmful to the skin.
- Green cleaning products also rely less on antibacterial ingredients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has outright stated that washing with antibacterial soaps is not more effective than using regular soaps. What’s more, the American Medical Association (AMA) has reported that the overuse of antibacterial products and actually promote resistance in bacteria, creating microbes that are stronger, more resilient, and potentially more harmful to humans. Most green cleaning supplies do not rely on antibacterial agents and do not contribute to this cycle.
The right way to go green
Once you’ve made the choice to start incorporating green cleaning products and practices into your cleaning routine, it is important to make sure that you are doing so effectively.
The use of natural ingredients is inherently beneficial to the environment, but green cleaning products also need to be effective. In order to meet cleanliness standards and to be adopted as effective products, green cleaning needs to incorporate the two basic principals of successful disinfection: pH and physical removal.
- Good old fashioned elbow grease is still one of the best methods of decontamination. Scrubbing and removing dirt and grime removes gathering and breeding places for bacteria and other pathogens that can cause infection, stains, and foul odors. In order to thrive, bacteria need a food source. By removing grime from surfaces, you can immediately reduce the food sources that contribute to their survival and reproduction. Physical removal also reduces the number of bacteria on a surface. No matter how green your cleaning products are, if they don’t aid in the physical removal of dirt, germs, and bacteria, they will compromise the cleanliness of the surface they are applied to. Many contaminated, dirty, or stained areas require a cleaner to help release the particles. This is where pH comes in to play.
- The pH of a cleaning agent can make the cleaning process more effective. Everything has a pH, and the baseline for measuring starts with water. The pH of pure water is 7. Manipulating the pH of a contaminant can help kill the bacteria present in it and make soil and stains more removable. Creating cleaning products by combining substances with water that alter the overall pH of the mixture is the starting point for creating an effective cleaning agent. This is a critical element to keep in mind when developing, choosing, and using green cleaning products. Depending on the characteristics of the surface that is being cleaned and the kind of soil and contaminants that are present, solutions with different pH levels may need to be used. Using cleaning agents with proper pH can also help make cleaning tasks easier for staff members. There is no substitute for having the right tool for the job. A cleaner that helps dissolve, dislodge, and loosen dirt and grime from surfaces will make the cleaning process more efficient and complete.
The companies that develop green cleaning products and the consumers that purchase and use them need to be educated and trained in cleaning practices that incorporate these principles. There is more than money at stake — the proper use of effective cleaners has a large impact on the staff that administer them and the people in the buildings where they are used. The adoption of green cleaning products on a national and global scale also has implications on planetary environmental conditions.
So before you buy your next order of green cleaning products, take the time to determine if they are the most effective for your needs. Selecting products that are designed for your specific cleaning tasks will improve your overall performance, and will contribute to the health of the environment in which you use them.
The advancement of green cleaning, including its effectiveness and acceptance, depends on cleaning products that work.
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