Spring cleaning, at least for the hotel and lodging industry, typically has more to do with evaluating the facility’s current cleaning tools, products, and processes than actually performing special cleaning projects. With this in mind and because more and more properties have transferred to green cleaning products and systems, we are finding that many hotel and housekeeping managers are asking what’s new in green cleaning during the spring cleaning season.
Green cleaning is evolving as it continues to grow. Along with the development of chemicals and products that are sustainable as well as green, one new area of interest is the use of what are known as bio-cleaners and bio-enzymatic cleaning products. These cleaners are typically made from agricultural products such as corn and soybeans. And, the enzymatic cleaners are formulated with special enzymes and “good bacteria,” which actually digest other bacteria and soils on surfaces.
Before going further, we should note that bio-cleaners and bio-enzymatic products are really not new and have been around for decades. What is new is that many are now proven green, having been green-certified by respected certification organizations. Additionally, these products’ performance, when compared to other green or conventional cleaning chemicals, has improved significantly in recent years. They are also more cost competitive than they were just a few years ago. Finally, the BioPreferred program, implemented by the U.S. government, encourages the use and sale of these products. Therefore, more end-users are aware of bio-based products and select them as valuable tools in their green cleaning arsenal.
Bio-cleaners and Their Use
Many are aware that bio-cleaners and bio-enzymatic products are used in laundry detergent, other household cleaning items, and even contact lens cleaner. In the professional cleaning industry, they are proving valuable for a number of general cleaning tasks, from floor, wall, and carpet cleaning to grout and tile care and, most especially, odor control. Because bio-enzymatic cleaners actually digest bacteria, which often cause odors, many housekeeping professionals report that odors are eliminated within days once a bio-enzymatic cleaner is applied.
Similarly, some housekeepers are finding success using these cleaners for hard-to-reach areas, such as grime in grout or the textured surfaces of tile. Because the bio-enzymatic cleaner performs most of the actual cleaning work (digesting soils), the wiping of the area may not be necessary due to the surfactants in the product. Additionally, the ingredients in the bio-enzymatic cleaner typically continue to work after the application of the product—often as long as 80 hours after application. In damp areas, such as a hotel gym or bathroom, this lingering effect helps keep these troublesome spots odor-free and cleaner longer.
While these products do have many positive attributes for housekeeping professionals, hotel properties looking into bio-based cleaners during this spring cleaning season are advised to do a little investigating. First, and foremost, not all bio-cleaners and bio-enzymatic products are proven green. And, some have even lost certification because they contain citrus, d-limonene, and other ingredients that are now known irritants. Be sure and ask your distributor or look for the certification markings of such organizations as EcoLogo, Green Seal, or EPA’s DfE program.
Next, try the products. Interestingly, when green cleaning chemicals were first becoming the norm in the professional cleaning industry, many believed these chemicals all performed about the same. We are seeing parallels to that belief with bio-cleaners as well. They are not all the same and housekeepers are advised to try different types of bio-cleaners and bio-enzymatic products and select those that work best for their cleaning needs.
Except for the bio-enzymatic cleaners designed specifically for odor elimination, which can be more costly than conventional odor killing chemicals, many bio-cleaners now cost about the same as conventional and other green cleaning products. However and interestingly, they can actually be less expensive due to their high water/chemical dilution level.
The bottom line is to use the same due diligence in selecting these products as you would with any other product for your hotel. Many housekeepers are finding advanced bio-based cleaners are the perfect solution to address numerous green cleaning needs.
Mike Sawchuk has been involved with the green and professional cleaning industries for more than 15 years. He is vice president and general manager of Enviro-Solutions, a leading manufacturer of proven-green cleaning chemicals based in Ontario, Canada.