Developing hygienic, healthy cleaning practices has long been a priority in medical facilities, where concerns regarding the spread of infection and nosocomial illnesses are paramount. Nowadays, however, many of these diseases are actually becoming 'community based,' meaning they are increasingly transmitted in nonmedical locations such as schools, gyms, and correctional facilities.
One of the most effective ways to help prevent the spread of such illnesses is health-focused cleaning, which is often referred to as hygienic cleaning. This is strongly supported by independent research organizations such as the Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI).
According to Tom Morrison, Vice President of Marketing for Kaivac, Inc., the use of the no-touch cleaning system followed by the use of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) rapid monitoring systems is essential for hygienic cleaning and to prove surfaces are hygienically clean. In fact, science has proven what many cleaning professionals have long suspected: that using conventional cleaning methods such as cleaning with rags or mopping floors can spread as many contaminants as it removes.
'Scientific studies have concluded that the last surface cleaned with a conventional cleaning cloth may have two to as much as eight times more soil on it than the first surface cleaned with the [cleaning] rag or mop,' says Morrison. 'Essentially, what is happening is the rag or mop becomes a conduit, spreading contamination.'
A New Focus and a New Name
Coverall--a 25-year-old commercial cleaning franchise company with more than 90 support centers and 9,000 franchisees worldwide--is well aware of the need for hygienic cleaning. But this was not always the case. Like most in the industry, at one time Coverall's focus was two-fold: cleaning for appearance and improving worker productivity.
'But that has all changed,' says Peter Sheldon Sr., CBSE and Vice President of Operations for Coverall, 'so much so that we have even changed our company name. Our focus is now on [protecting human] health, and we changed our name to reflect that. The company is now called Coverall Health-Based Cleaning Systemsâ„ .'
Sheldon agrees with Morrison regarding the importance of no-touch cleaning equipment for hygienic cleaning--and his company encourages its franchisees to use such systems. 'We use the [no-touch] system to clean restrooms, food service areas, floors, stairs, and locker room/gym areas,' explains Sheldon. 'Along with providing more thorough, hygienic cleaning, the system [also] tends to speed up the cleaning process.'
This reduction in cleaning times has actually been documented by ISSA, which states that cleaning times can be reduced by as much as two-thirds through the use of no-touch systems. Sheldon reports that his company's own in-house studies indicate that it is actually possible to reduce these cleaning times even further.
The Power of Proof
Cleaning professionals can talk all they want to about implementing health-focused cleaning systems--but are they really protecting human health? Can such a question even be answered conclusively one way or another? Many cleaning professionals may be surprised to learn that the answer is a resounding yes.
To scientifically prove that a surface is hygienically clean, both Morrison and Sheldon encourage the use of ATP rapid monitoring systems. ATP is an energy molecule found in all animal, plant, bacterial, yeast, and mold cells. The energy in ATP is luminescent, and it is this luminescence that is detected by ATP monitoring systems. If the amount of ATP present reaches a certain level, it is scientific proof of the presence of microscopic biological contaminants.
According to Morrison, early versions of these ATP tests took a day or two to deliver results. The systems also required a room-sized computer, and the tests had to be conducted by a trained technician. Today, however, these systems take just seconds to evaluate a surface for contaminants. They can be used by virtually any worker and they are as small as a remote control.
'The test takes less than 15 seconds,' explains Morrison, 'allowing managers to know very quickly if additional cleaning measures must be taken.'
Changing Industry Standards
These systems are now part of the many-faceted cleaning arsenal Coverall offers to help its franchisees protect human health. Together with no-touch cleaning systems, Sheldon believes ATP monitoring is having a major impact on the entire cleaning industry. 'These systems are raising our industry's standards,' he says. 'That's because they protect and promote [human] health and positively impact the health and welfare of our communities.'
And Morrison believes Coverall has proven itself as a leader when it comes to changing our industry's standards with a much greater focus on a healthy clean. 'Coverall really gets the importance of cleaning for health,' he says. 'They know how to leverage technology to deliver a deeper, healthier cleaning result to their customers at the same price as less effective methods. That's why our partnership is so strong.'