Highly respected management guru Warren Bennis once stated that as a successful leader you need to be effective and efficient at the same time. Effective being defined as “Doing the right things.” Efficient meaning “Doing things the right way.” In summary, a successful leader would do the right things in the right way.
Passive Cleaning allows you to be both, efficient and effective. Why? Because passive cleaning prevents dirt from entering or spreading throughout a building where labour is required to capture and remove it.  It allows a manager to clean both effectively and efficiently. 
What is passive cleaning?  Passive Cleaning is a term that it used when tools capture moisture, soils, and contaminants and prevent them from being spread throughout a building. Passive cleaning  prevents contaminants from having a negative impact on the Indoor Quality of a building. It means putting your efforts and money on CAPTURING & PREVENTING the dirt from getting into your building instead of spending the labour on removing the dirt once it has entered or spread throughout the building.

Entrance Matting

Entrance matting is a great example of passive cleaning. When adequate high performance matting is placed at each entrance, it will remove and capture 85% of all soils before they enter a facility.  The choice of matting type will depend on weather conditions, pedestrian traffic, the type of facility and budget.  Some experts say that they can get a good idea of how clean and healthy a building is just by looking at the front door.  If there is a high performance matting system installed at all entrances, it is a good indication the facility has good cleaning practices and the facility places the health of the its building occupants first.  It is important to remember for mats to capture dirt and germs they must be cleaned and maintained on a regular basis.
Here are some stats that help to justify why managers that place High Performance matting at each of the buildings entrances are both efficient and effective:
Up to 80% of the soil is tracked in on the feet of people entering the building.
• Up to 24 pounds of dirt can be tracked in by just 1,000 people coming through an entrance over a 20-day work period.
• As much as 42% of the floor finish can be damaged or removed after 1,500 people have walked within the first six feet of an entrance without a matting system.
• 91% of people select a store for its appearance and 42% judge it primarily by the cleanliness of the floors.
• The cost to remove just one pound of dirt after it is tracked throughout a building exceeds $500.
• Over 30% of worker injuries are slip-related and result in more than 300,000 disabling injuries each year.
Extract from a Stephen Ashkin article, Destination Green, September 2006 / Progressive Shopper / Wausau Insurance Company
To prove this point, I was trying to help solve what a sale consultant thought was a floor finish issue.  The customer had tried several different types of floor finish and none was providing the protection and look he desired. The floors looked terrible at the end of the day.  The first question I asked the rep was to describe the type of matting the customer had in place.  When the rep said none, I strongly suggested that a big part of the issue was that the customer was not controlling the soil that was entering the building.  Lack of matting was causing the dirty  and scratched floors,  not the wrong floor finish.

Vacuum Filtration

Another type of passive cleaning is filtration.  Vacuuming is one of the cleaning tasks that uses filtration as method of capturing soil and contaminants. Vacuuming without proper filtration is one of the main causes of poor cleaning results and of poor Indoor Air Quality.  When vacuums don’t have adequate filtration, they become “dust pumps”, sending dust, soil and contaminants into the ambient air. Once in the ambient air, these soils and contaminants will land on various surfaces and will be inhaled by building occupants and custodial staff. Poor vacuum filtration affects both the quality of cleaning and the health of all building occupants and custodial staff. The solution is using vacuums with high-efficiency vacuum filters.
The type of filtration you select will depend on the type of soils and contaminants found in your facility.  Basically, when choosing a vacuum, you have several choices of filtration system.  One way to look at your choices of vacuum filtration systems is:
Poor– conventional cloth filters
Good  – paper filters
Better  – “hospital grade” – fleece bags
Best – certified/sealed filtration systems
While high-efficiency vacuum filters are very good at trapping fine dust particles at the source, they do require a frequent maintenance program.  Fine-mesh filters often clog more rapidly, reducing airflow and suction, and require more attention to maintain peak efficiency. Air movement is critical to good filtration.
One of my favourite stories regarding the benefits of using a good vacuum with a good filtration system is the story of a contract cleaner who had recently replaced over 200 ‘bag on a stick type of vacuums’ with newer more efficient models to clean a chain of retail stores.  The customer wanted to return the vacuums because the filter bags were full after a few days compared to his old vacuums where the bags didn’t require emptying for at least a month.


A third type of passive cleaning is the use of microfiber for cleaning both above the floor surfaces and hard floor surfaces. Microfibers are created so that they capture soils and contaminants instead of spreading them around.  This is true for both microfiber hand cloths and floor mopping pads. Microfiber used for cleaning is made using a very thin filament that has been extruded with two synthetic polymers, polyester and nylon. After it’s extruded, it’s processed mechanically and chemically to be broken into finer parts, 1/100th the diameter of a human hair. Microfiber is considered superior to standard fibers for many cleaning applications because it has more surface area, and the smaller fibers can get into cracks and crevices too small for other materials. These fibers also hold onto the soils and contaminants that they pick up and prevent redepositing this soil onto other surfaces.  It is not uncommon for both custodians and building occupants to comment how much less dust there is in a facility a few weeks after microfibers systems have been implemented.
Entrance Matting, Vacuum filters and microfibers are only 3 of many tools that are considered passive cleaning.  The design and filtration of certain innovative autoscrubbers, bucket systems that capture and filter dirt are also examples of tools that are designed to capture and prevent the spread of dirt throughout a building. What is important is that by investing in passive cleaning technologies, facilities can invest in more productive cleaning schedules resulting in labour savings.  The results are cleaner, greener and healthier buildings.
Now is the time to act on passive cleaning. Be a successful leader by doing the right thing and in the right way – invest in passive cleaning systems and technologies today!