Greening The Cleaning

Green Cleaning-The Way Back

 

Green_Your_CleanersBy Jim Ronchi-I have been working with Environmental Services in Healthcare for over 35 years and I have witnessed a lot of changes. Just in the last 10 to 15 years, we have seen remarkable progress in the use and formulation of green cleaning chemicals, as well as the focused efforts on recyclable materials and more sustainable purchasing in the workplace. Over 20 years ago, we realized that we could safely clean green in a hospital setting without a rise in infectious diseases.We also learned that being sustainable did not cost us more money. Sustainability was trending in the right direction. Then in 2019 "COVID-19" took over the world. The first worldwide pandemic in 100 years. Although it has not taken away all our sustainability efforts, it has made things tough. Cleaning processes changed, we were using way too much disinfectant, our costs still increase on a daily basis, supplies are hard to get and recycling initiatives have fallen back drastically. Yet as leaders we still have to find a way to perform our jobs to the best of our ability with reduced staff, tight budgets and the same high expectations. So how can we clean green and accomplish this? Let's face it, we need to do more with less.  Here are some tips that can help make this happen.

 

Cleaning and Disinfecting

“The benefits of using safe, effective green cleaning and disinfecting practices are the same as they were before the pandemic, but with even greater stakes now, because of the excessive use of hazardous chemicals over the past 3 years."1 From day one and throughout the pandemic, hospitals relied solely on disinfectants, whether it was through ready to use wipes, fogging methods or electrostatic sprayers, disinfectants were the main chemicals used to clean surfaces. As we later learned, COVID-19 was rarely contracted from a surface and yet we are still seeing an overuse of disinfectants.  There is an absolute need for disinfectants, but with practical use. Many staff members have gotten away from cleaning before a disinfectant is applied. By cleaning first with a third-party green certified general purpose cleaner, you cut down on the use of disinfectants and the thousands of pre-saturated wipes that go into our waste stream. You also create a safer environment with better indoor air quality for the patients, visitors and staff. 

 

Eliminate the use of multiple products for cleaning

Not that long ago we had a cleaning chemical for every task we performed. There were bowl cleaners, floor cleaning solutions, glass cleaners, deodorizers and the list goes on. An Environmental Services worker would sometimes have 7 or 8 items on their cart to clean with. With today's green cleaners we see a consolidation of chemicals where one or two cleaners can be utilized on multiple surfaces. This bodes well for the facility managers who now save money on  products and also spend less time and money to train staff on multiple product use. An example is a third-party certified green hydrogen peroxide-based cleaner.  At different dilution ratios this product can take the place of a floor cleaner, carpet extraction detergent, glass, surface and grout cleaner, while also having the ability to sanitize a surface.

 

Sustainable flooring

It’s not only chemical cleaning products that have gotten a makeover in recent years. Flooring, for example, has also followed sustainable and environmentally friendly trends.

 

The top priorities of healthcare flooring are: comfort, durability, infection control, aesthetics, safety, initial cost and short maintenance time. Labor utilization is lower, and floors are easier to maintain as a result. In addition, other easy-to-maintain flooring options such as luxury vinyl tile and ceramic tile that looks like wood have come into fashion for their ease of cleaning and low maintenance, eliminating the need for expensive chemical strippers and finishes as well as the labor required to keep up such processes. 

 

So you see there is a Green Way Back from COVID, we just need to be diligent with our practices. For more information visit our website at GreeningTheCleaning.org

 

   “The earth can no longer provide the abundance of non-renewable resources to meet the ever-growing needs of mankind”.3


 

Source: 1 Cleanlink

Source: 2 Facility Executive

   Source: 3 Tom Mikolski

 
 
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