Some Cleaning Industry Terms and what they mean to us
What’s a HEPA filter? Microfiber mop? Strip and re-finish? Do you know what dust is? How about VOCs? MSDS? Burnishing? Pathogens? What’s with OSHA? How does one sanitize, as opposed to disinfect? Want to know about team cleaning, as opposed to zone cleaning? Leave us (or anyone else) not confuse you.
US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)The EPA maintains a glossary of terms related to Indoor Air Quality. It is a handy resource if clean air and your health are important issues for you.
Indoor Air Quality/Dust Control
Dust is the collective term for minute solid particles, both organic and inorganic, that collect in our homes, offices, and cars — basically everywhere we live. Dust comes from a variety of sources including soil, pollen, skin cells, textile fibers, animal hair and dander, and many other materials. Much of office dust is shed skin cells.
Factors in dust composition:
•Quantity of furniture and carpets
•Ventilation and heating systems
•Activities within a room
Because dust can become airborne easily, extra care should be used when cleaning to avoid moving dust particles around. Wiping (with microfiber) rather than feather dusting, using HEPA filtered vacuums, vacuuming hard surface floors, etc., all help contain and remove dust, leaving a clean building.
HEPA filters remove 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 micrometers (µm/microns) in diameter. Particles of this size are the most difficult to filter (and the most damaging to your lungs). Particles that are larger or smaller are filtered with even higher efficiency (to explain this could cause our heads to explode).
CBN’s vacuum cleaners use HEPA filters as part of their filtration systems. This is beneficial for asthma and allergy sufferers, because the HEPA filter traps the fine particles (such as spores, pollen, bacteria, and dust mite feces) which trigger allergy and asthma symptoms.
For more information on HEPA filters, click on this link to bring up Wikipedia’s HEPA article.
VOCs (volatile organic compounds)
Organic chemicals are widely used as ingredients in many cleaning and disinfecting products. These products can release organic compounds while you are using them and, to some degree, when they are stored. Eye, nose, and throat irritation, headaches, loss of coordination, nausea, and damage to liver, kidney, and central nervous system are among the noted health effects of VOC exposure. Many organic compounds are known to cause cancer in animals; some are suspected of causing, or are known to cause, cancer in humans.
The ability of organic chemicals to cause adverse health effects varies greatly from those that are highly toxic, to those with no known health effect. As with other pollutants, the extent and nature of the health effect will depend on many factors, including the level of exposure and length of time exposed.
The floor care and office cleaning products offered by Diversey are specifically formulated to be environmentally friendly and consumer health positive, with effective cleaning chaaracteristics. They contain few or no harmful VOCs. This is one of several reasons we have chosen their product line.
By and large, language is a tool for concealing the truth.
– George Carlin
The language of friendship is not words but meanings.
– Henry David Thoreau
Animation can explain whatever the mind of man can conceive. This facility makes it the most versatile and explicit means of communication yet devised for quick mass appreciation.
– Walt Disney
Extremists think “communication” means agreeing with them.
– Leo Rosten
England and America are two countries separated by the same language.
– George Bernard Shaw
French is the language that turns dirt into romance.
– Stephen King
Going to war without France is like going deer hunting without an accordion.
– Jed Babbitt
It’s my belief we developed language because of our deep inner need to complain.
– Lily Tomlin
If you’re not ready to die for it, put the word ‘freedom’ out of your vocabulary.
– Malcolm X
“Stay” is a charming word in a friend’s vocabulary.
– Louisa May Alcott
We don’t just borrow words; on occasion, English has pursued other languages down alleyways to beat them unconscious and rifle their pockets for new vocabulary.
– Booker T. Washington
Saxophone is one thing, and music is another.
– Steve Lacy
Carpet cleaning methods (and protection)
Bonnet cleaning – Low Moisture Soil Encapsulation
Carpet cleaning via the bonnet method utilizes a low-speed rotary floor scrubber and a fabric (usually cotton, with nylon strips for scrub power) disk or pad, called a bonnet. A cleaning solution (specially formulated for this process) is applied to one smallish area of the carpeting at a time, which is then “massaged” with the bonnet mounted under the floor scrubbing machine.
The massaging and chemical action free the soil, much of which is absorbed into the bonnet; the bonnet is dunked in fresh solution and wrung out every 100 or so square feet to dispose of the picked up soil. Once dry, the carpet is thoroughly vacuumed to remove any remaining soil and crystallized chemical.
There are various advantages to low moisture processes over hot water extraction (commonly called “steam cleaning”): less moisture introduced into the carpet, thus limiting the chance of over-wetting and speeding up dry-time; environmentally, less water (by 95%) and less chemical used; less water introduced into the carpet backing avoids shrinkage or tearing of fibers, and to bleeding and discoloration; and better worker productivity, so we can clean the carpet more frequently at a similar annual cost.
Rotary cleaning (shampooing)
Carpet cleaning using a low-speed (175 rpm) rotary floor scrubbing machine equipped with a nylon cleaning brush. Solution is applied to the carpet, usually from a tank on the floor scrubber and fed through holes (“shower feed”) in the brush’s backer block, aggressively brushed into the carpet, and allowed to fully dry. Thorough vacuuming then removes soil and crystallized shampoo from the carpet.
Rotary shampooing tends to be more aggressive than bonnet cleaning; while harder on the carpet, it also tends to “grind out” more soil. It’s commonly used for “heavy duty” or restorative cleaning, often followed by extraction (without added cleaner), to dilute and rinse out soil, rather than waiting for dry vacuuming.
Hot water extraction (steam cleaning)
Sometimes (erroneously) called “steam cleaning” – real steam (212 degrees F.) would melt the adhesive which binds the carpeting to its backing material.
Extraction uses a pressure nozzle to propel solutions (cleaning; deodorizing; fungicidal, among others) into the carpet, and a wand/wet vacuum system to pull it back out, along with suspended dirt. It works primarily by diluting or solubilizing carpet contaminants. It is effective at pulling out deep soil, residual shampoo, or deep stains.
Extraction by itself does little to agitate carpet fibers, so ground in soil can be a problem. Consequently, it’s often used in conjunction with rotary shampooing for cleaning of grossly soiled carpeting (carpeting in auto shops, for instance) or in “restorative” cleaning, or in pulling out relatively fresh beverage spills (by putting massive doses of water into the carpet, diluting the beverage, and sucking it back out).
Carpet protection (post cleaning)
Application, usually after carpet cleaning, of a chemical coating designed to prevent staining of carpet fibers by water-borne contaminants or oily substances (pizza always lands cheese side down – doesn’t it?). After protection, ongoing carpet spot removal becomes more effective; the next full cleaning becomes both more effective and easier to perform.
Some carpet protectors are also designed to minimize the attachment of dust, dirt, and dander to the carpet’s fibers, thus allowing more soil removal with regular vacuuming; the carpet looks better longer, exhibits less wear (less gritty soil left behind for foot traffic to grind into and damage carpet fibers), and leaves less fine soil to become airborne during the day, impacting indoor air quality.
Hard floor maintenance (tile, ceramic, concrete, etc.)
Polish previously laid floor finish with a high-speed floor machine (generally 300 to 1000 RPM; under 300 RPM is termed a “low speed” machine and used mostly for scrubbing, cleaning, and stripping). Older technology, like in the 1950’s, involved actual wax, of biological origin (such as carnauba wax, still used in automotive and furniture waxes), not modern acrylic polymer finishes.
Paste wax was much softer than modern finishes, and could be successfully buffed with a low speed scrubbing machine (or an old towel, for that matter), but would scuff and mark so easily that it had to be buffed nightly.
Polish previously laid floor finish with an ultra-high-speed floor machine (usually defined as over 1000 RPM). We use 2000 RPM burnishers, about the highest speed available in electric machines. Propane machines, like the ones you may see in the grocery store (if you shop late at night), are a bit faster and more aggressive (a propane motor gives more torque than an electric machine can power without blowing your breakers), but are difficult to maneuver in an office setting.
Microfiber damp mops
Microfibers are densely constructed, polyester and polyamide (nylon) fibers that are approximately 1/16 the thickness of a human hair. The fineness of the material enables it to hold six times its weight in water, making it more absorbent than a conventional cotton loop mop. Also, the tiny fibers are able to penetrate the microscopic surface pores of most flooring materials. These characteristics make microfiber an especially effective mopping material.
An article published by the EPA, “Using Microfiber Mops in Hospitals”, relies heavily on a study on microfiber mops done by the University of California at Davis Medical Center. Besides documenting savings in water and chemicals, the study reports on limiting room-to-room cross-contamination and, most significantly, a 99% reduction in bacteria, compared to a 30% reduction using standard string mops.
What’s good for medical facilities is good for cleaning ordinary office space as well; using microfiber damp mops, one doesn’t move soil or germs from restroom to lunchroom, or from one client to the next.
Refinish (scrub and recoat)
Thorough machine cleaning of the top surface of existing finish, and application of one or more coats of additional finish; also termed “top coating”. It’s not unknown for less reputable janitorial firms to sell (and charge full price for) “strip” jobs and actually perform scrubs; look for a tell-tale border of yellowed finish along the baseboards.
Strip and refinish
The ultimate step in floor cleaning, stripping is the complete removal, (using chemical stripper and a low speed scrubbing machine equipped with a highly abrasive pad) of all finish and sealer down to bare tile, followed by a fresh application of sealer (generally two coats) and finish (two or more coats, depending on the porosity of the floor, anticipated traffic, etc)
Generally, furniture should not be replaced on the floor within about 12 hours of application of the final coat of finish. Though the finish is dry enough to walk on within an hour or so, complete curing takes longer – depending on heat, humidity, number and thickness of coats, air circulation (and general cussedness). Heavy items will stick to the finish if replaced too soon. We’ve found this often disturbs the client.
Stripping is labor intensive, time-critical, very expensive, and usually avoidable since the advent of harder and more durable modern floor finishes (which are even harder to remove than the old stuff) and proper periodic floor care.
Scale (acid scrub)
Hard water deposits are often left behind when cleaning with a water-based solution (ever notice the hard water in this town?). Scale builds up after repeated mopping, and is particularly evident on ceramic tile floors, both on the tile surface and in the grouting, where it tends to lock both soil and bacteria into the pores of the grout.
Descaling, as we do it, involves application of a dilute phosphoric acid rinse, allowing a bit of dwell time, scrubbing with a brush mounted on a low speed floor scrubber, wet vacuum removal and rinse. Scale, oil, and soil are removed. Note that, because it is porous, grout will sometimes acquire permanent stains.
Chemicals, Disinfectants, & Sanitation
Any object, that is not harmful itself, but may be capable of carrying an infectious microorganism on it and thus transmit disease (i.e. faucets, handles, etc. in bathrooms are all fomites)
Changing the electrical charge of the particles in a liquid or plastic body so that the particles repel each other, breaking up the ‘flocs.’ This charge is usually a net negative charge, and can be brought about by adding soluble alkalais such as sodium or lithium. In short, when we use cleaners on a surface, the chemicals break up the dirt preparing it for removal.
Compounds that lower the surface tension of a liquid, allowing easier spreading, and lowering of the interfacial tension between two liquids, or between a liquid and a solid
Acidic solution – a solution with a PH of less then 7 on the PH scale.
Alkaline solution – a solution with a PH of higher then 7 on the PH scale.
Neutral solution – a solution with a PH of 7 on the PH scale.
Organisms of microscopic size such as bacteria, viruses or fungi.
A microorganism capable of producing an infection. Blood-borne pathogens are microorganisms present in human blood or other potentially infectious body fluids that can cause disease in humans
A common term for pathogenic bacteria or other microorganisms
Substances or mixtures of substances used to destroy or suppress the growth of harmful micro-organisms. Anti-microbial agents include:
Agents used to reduce, but not necessarily eliminate microorganisms to levels considered safe by public health codes or regulations. They are considered low level antimicrobial agents used in non-food situations and where consumable food products are stored.
Agents used to destroy or irreversibly de-activate infectious fungi, viruses and bacteria but not necessarily their spores. Disinfectants DO NOT clean (remove dirt); clean with the appropriate cleaner, then disinfect. Disinfectants are generally used most in the maintenance profession, and come in two major types:
Institutional grade (sometimes referred to as commercial grade) disinfectants, at minimum, kill only two of the common pathogenic microorganisms – staphylococcus aureus (causes skin infections such as boils) and salmonella choleraesuis (causes typhoid fever and food poisoning). These are often used in office buildings.
Hospital grade disinfectants kill a wide range of germs, including varied strains of bacteria, fungi and viruses.
The most common ingredients used in disinfectants today are quaternary ammonium compounds and phenolic compounds.
Quaternary ammonium compounds (quats) are included in most hard-surface disinfectants (Virex256™ for instance). Quats can work alone or be combined with other active ingredients to achieve a high level kill of bacteria, viruses and fungi. For example, quats combined with high levels of alcohol are effective against hard to kill organisms such as TB.
Phenolics are used by healthcare facilities to kill organisms which quats alone do not.
Sterilants (Sporicides) – Agents used to destroy or eliminate all forms of microbial life including fungi, viruses and all forms of bacteria and their spores
Procedures and concepts
“Team Cleaning” can be used to divide tasks among several workers, or to set up a routine for one person who cleans the entire building. Generally, the system involves moving in a circular path and the following steps:
1) “Light Duty” includes: emptying trash, ashtrays, dusting, spot cleaning, carpet
spotting and door and interior glass spotting all in one operation (includes restroom & lunchroom trash).
2) Vacuuming floors, (both carpet and tile); vents, webs, etc. with backpack vacuum. Do this after your “Light Duty” cleaning and check the previous work as you go.
3) Rest rooms & lunchrooms (can easily be combined with light duty cleaning when in a small building).
4) Damp and wet mopping.
Recycling of Rest Room Paper Products
Studies have shown that people usually don’t wash their hands if there isn’t a towel available; to enhance sanitation, our crews make sure paper towel dispensers are fully stocked on a regular basis.
Many facility managers have seen benefits to utilizing roll towels in their restrooms. Capacity alone reduces stocking and encourages building occupants to practice proper hand hygiene.
The 800-foot roll towel is one of the highest capacity towels available on the market, but there are other options that vary in length to suit every facility. These high-capacity options will expand the time between restocking, while providing ample supply for restroom patrons.
Most users prefer softer, more absorbent restroom paper products. Although better-quality tissue and towels come with a higher price tag, they usually pay off in the long run; people commonly use three or four thin towels versus a single thicker towel.
Green paper products are often identified by certifications that outline criteria for post-consumer fiber content, recovered fiber, and chlorine free processing, but these terms can be easily misinterpreted.
Post-consumer fiber is finished product that served its purpose, then was recovered or otherwise diverted from the waste stream for the purpose of recycling.
Recovered fiber is fiber generated during the paper making process, including post-consumer materials, envelope cuttings, bindery trimmings, printing waste, butt rolls and mill wrappers, obsolete inventories, and rejected unused stock.
Processed chlorine free indicates that environmentally friendly paper isn’t bleached using chlorine or chlorine derivatives.
Although they don’t certify products, the Environmental Protection Agency does make recommendations for green towel and tissue product purchasing:
The EPA’s Comprehensive Procurement Guideline program identifies items that must contain recycled materials when purchased with appropriated federal funds by federal, state and local agencies, or by government contractors
EPA’s Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines for commercial/industrial sanitary tissue requires:
• Bathroom tissue must be 20 to 100% recovered fiber, including 20 to 60% post-consumer fiber.
• Paper towels must have 40 to 100% recovered fiber, including 40 to 60% post-consumer fiber.
• Paper napkins must be anywhere from 30 to 100% recovered fiber, including 30 to 60%t post-consumer fiber.
• Facial tissue needs to contain 10 to 100% recovered fiber, including 10 to 15% post-consumer fiber
• General-purpose industrial wipes must contain 40 to 100% recovered fiber, inlcuding 40% post-consumer fiber.