Greening The Cleaning

Are You Green Cleaning With Meaning?

woman_cleaning_glass_shutterstock_185560472By Deirdre Imus, April 8, 2019
Few things matter as much in health care, or for maintaining overall health, as cleanliness. For more than two decades, The Deirdre Imus Environmental Health Center® has been dedicated to ensuring children live the healthiest lives possible - today, tomorrow, and decades from now. Much of our work to make that happen has been in the cleaning product space. It is now common knowledge that household and commercial cleaning products are rife with toxic chemicals that can and do make people sick, but it wasn’t as widely recognized when we founded our Greening The Cleaning® (GTC®) program in 2001. 

Since its inception, GTC® has been devoted to improving the indoor environments of health care facilities, schools and businesses, in an attempt to prevent the people who work inside these buildings from getting sick – whether through an acute reaction to noxious odors, or because of sustained exposure to the asthmagens, carcinogens and other irritants in conventional cleaning products. It was a lofty goal but one that has taken hold, as we have watched the message of green cleaning and safer ingredients proliferate around the world. 

The great thing about green cleaning products is that they actually, really, truly work. It has been an uphill battle convincing people that natural approaches to cleaning can offer the same outcome as the chemicals they grew up with, but as with any movement that results in true change, it is a marathon – not a sprint. Slowly the mindset surrounding cleaning products has started to shift, as you can see when you walk into any big box store or independent retailer to find the shelves lined with “green” alternatives. This can create confusion, because not all “green” is created equal. It’s as important as ever to read ingredients and do your homework to figure out which formulations are as natural as they claim to be, and when chemicals such as disinfectants are truly warranted. The Environmental Working Group’s Guide to Healthy Cleaning is a good place to start. 

Some recent and tragic events have highlighted even further why effective cleaning agents used the right way are a crucial part of health care. Just a few months ago, an adenovirus outbreak at a long-term care facility in New Jersey led to the deaths of 11 medically fragile children. Not long after, it was revealed that a surgical center, also in New Jersey, may have inadvertently exposed patients to HIV, hepatitis B, and hepatitis C as a result of subpar sterilization practices, as well as inadequate hand washing. 

As this flu season lingers on (it hasn’t been this bad, this late in 20 years, according to the Wall Street Journal), it’s important to practice proper, effective hand-washing techniques. The Mayo Clinic offers strategies, such as avoiding antibacterial soaps (which are laden with chemicals); washing vigorously for at least 20 seconds; and making sure to reach all surfaces, including the back of the hand, fingernails, and wrists.

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As experts in the cleaning field, we’re always happy to help with any questions you might have about your own cleaning regimen – which products you should use and  how to tell the good from the bad. Green cleaning is not just a slogan that sort of rhymes, it’s a way of life. You’ll be amazed by how much better your whole family will feel, and how clean your home will look. Consider supporting the work we do to promote environmental research and education, and create meaningful employment opportunities for the blind and visually impaired. The benefits of GTC® have, do, and will continue to spread far and wide.

 

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