Sani Marc Group’s virtual magazine

Green Cleaning during the Winter Months

It’s Easier Than You Think!

Snow, slush, sand, ice melter compounds – these are the true signs that winter has arrived. For many facilities, winter weather conditions require an adjustment or a change to their cleaning routines. Salt, sand and moisture easily infiltrate buildings and pose both a risk to damaging floor surfaces and a slip hazard to all building occupants. With a good winter survival kit, Property Managers can prevent damage to floor surfaces, prevent slip\fall accidents and be kind to the environment. Below you will find my step by step guide to winter cleaning that promotes a healthy building and that is kind to the environment!

Step 1 – Install High Performance Matting at all Entrances

The ISSA (International Sanitary Supply Association) estimates that up to 24 pounds of dirt can be tracked into a facility that is visited by 1,000 people during a 20 day work period. Up to 70 to 80% of the dirt is tracked from the outside and during winter conditions this percentage is much higher. ISSA estimates that it can cost approximately $500 to remove 1 pound of dirt. High performance matting will capture dirt, contaminants and moisture at the entrance before they have a chance to spread throughout the building ruining both your floors and the indoor air quality of your building. To be effective at capturing this soil and protecting the air quality of your facility, at least 3 metres (15 ft) of matting needs to be installed at each entrance – long enough for the average person to step on the matting four to six times with each foot. To be considered a High Performance mat, the product must have a minimum warranty for a 1 year life span.

Remember! High Performance matting must be properly maintained to achieve the desired results. Mats must be vacuumed on a regular basis and have a regular cleaning program. Just having mats is not enough! They must be clean, and free of debris to prevent dirt from soiling floor surfaces and contaminants from being inhaled.

Step 2 – Review Frequency of your Floor Care Program

The best matting systems capture only 80% of soil and contaminants at the door. To remove the 20% that does enter into your building, Facility Managers need to review that frequency that their hard surface floors and carpets are cleaned. It is critical to remove the soil and contaminants before they can damage surfaces and before building occupants can inhale these harmful particles. Address the need to add frequency to your cleaning plan before your floors and carpets get damaged. A small investment in added frequency can prevent a costly strip and recoat on finished floors and replacement of carpeted surfaces.

Step 3 – Choose Equipment that promotes good indoor air quality

Your winter cleaning program needs to be both efficient and promote health. To meet both these needs, vacuum cleaners and extraction equipment must effectively pick up soil and contain the contaminants. Look for vacuums that have offer above average soil removal, dust containment and carpet fibre retention. Choose extraction equipment that outperforms in soil removal, water removal and texture retention. The Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) tests carpet cleaning equipment to assure that they effectively remove and contain soil while ensuring that carpet maintains a nice appearance and has a long life expectancy. Look for carpet equipment with the CRI seal of approval/Green Label Program.

Autoscrubbers also need to have the ability to pickup and capture soils efficiently and leave floors as dry as possible. This will prevent resoiling and avoid potential slip/fall accidents. LEED EBOM criteria for equipment is a great tool to ensure you are choosing equipment that will meet the health and safety requirement of the operator and the cleaning needs of the facility. These criteria address the noise levels of the equipment, the ergonomics of the design, chemical dispensing and many other features.

Don’t forget that all equipment needs to be regularly and properly maintained to give you the cleaning results and health benefits you require.

Step 4 – Choose Green Certified Cleaning Chemicals

Building occupants spend more hours indoors than outdoors. For this reason, it is important to use cleaning practices that promote good indoor air quality. Green certified cleaning chemicals are designed to give you the cleaning performance you require while protecting the health of users and building occupants. Your cleaning policy should outline the use of green certified chemicals whenever possible.

One of the issues in winter is that the soil that enters the building is of a different nature than non winter months and is much more prolific. Winter cleaning may require an adjustment to your choice of chemicals. You may need a cleaner that has been formulated to remove heavier soils and ice melter residue. Remember your choice of cleaning chemicals needs to answer the three basic requirements for an effective green cleaning program.

  1. the cleaning product must meet your cleaning requirements
  2. it must protect the health of the worker and of the building occupants
  3. it must have a reduced impact on the environment when compared to traditional cleaning chemicals.

If the size of your entrance does not allow for an autoscrubber, you may need to have a mop/bucket/wringer at the entrance to pick up wet debris on a regular basis. Ensure that these tools are kept clean and emptied often. Ensure the chemical solution chosen is designed to remove this type of soil is used at the recommended dilution. Using more chemical or a richer solution does not necessarily mean a more effective cleaner. Often users will use more than the recommended dilution hoping that the product will remove more soil. This often produces a hazing on floors that can lead to quicker resoiling and can damage floor surfaces. Never use cleaning chemicals at a dilution rate that is not recommended by the manufacturer!!!

Don’t let winter and its extra soils and contaminants affect the cleaning standards of the facility. Matting, cleaning frequency and choice of equipment and chemicals are key success factors that will make your facility winter ready. Your budget, your staff, building occupants and the environment will thank you!

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