When choosing the best cleaning products, apply the words of Stephen R. Covey: "The enemy of the best is often the good."
“Good cleaning” may be defined as removing some soil but without ideal efficiency, asset restoration, appearance or related health results - yet with less upfront cost, it may be considered, “good enough”.
“Best cleaning products” are those that remove the most soil in the least amount of time, affordably producing more-complete cleaning for healthy results.
While upfront cost can be less by choosing “good cleaning”, overall value may also be less and long-term cost higher than when choosing the “best cleaning”. The latter is often due to degraded appearance and assets, soil buildup, lost productivity, absenteeism and issues related to unhealthy workspaces (ISSA, Value of Clean).
Historic examples of good cleaning products versus best cleaning products are:
Good: Paper towels and spray glass cleaner.
Best: Strip washer and squeegee.
Good: Cloth bag upright vacuum cleaner for cut pile carpet (which leaks dust) (invented by James Murray Spangler, June 1908).
Best: Sealed upright vacuum with microfilters and HEPA, with certified performance and dust capture (e.g., Carpet & Rug Institute or CRI Seal of Approval).
Good: String mop and rolling mop bucket (developed in the 1800s, enhanced in the 19th and 20th Centuries).
Best: Rolling dispense-and-vac system (developed in the 21st century) with verified performance (e.g., ISSA’s 612 Cleaning Times) and safety (National Floor Safety Institute or NFSI Certification).
When Good is OK
Some “good products” have a place in the cleaning arsenal. When spot cleaning a small pane of glass, sometimes a spray and wipe technique is most efficient. When vacuuming course material, older vacuum cleaner technology can remove gross debris. A dry string mop can soak up a spill in a pinch.
Why Choose “Best Products”?
Field and other testing often shows that “good products” should be replaced with “best products” such as spray-and-vac (see article by Dr. Jay Glasel in Controlled Environments magazine) and spread-and-vac systems.
For example, when there is a spill in a retail department or grocery store, a string mop and mop bucket can quickly sop up some liquid, but the surface stays wet and dangerous long enough to cause a slip and fall incident. Conversely, a rolling spread-and-vac or dispense-and-vac unit is quick to deploy, suctions off the liquid, rinses with fresh solution, then vacuums the floor dry in much less time and with a greater safety margin.
Likewise, it is important to consider how to stop the mop in kitchens where manual mopping begs for replacement by proven systems that thoroughly remove liquids, soil and grease, lowering the slip/fall risk, surface and appearance degradation (See TURI Surface Solutions Laboratory testing at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell).
In restrooms, removing destructive and smelly urine from grout is impossible using “good ole” mops, but simple with -
Expanding on our opening axiom - "The enemy of the best is often the good” - we can add, “the good is the enemy of the great”. Performance, safety and cost considerations should drive home that what was thought to be “good” for cleaning in most cases should be replaced with what is now known to be “great” for cleaning.
See also StopTheMop.com
Allen Rathey is the principal of the Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI), director of the Indoor Wellness Council (IWC), and author of articles about best practices in cleaning and indoor environmental management.
*The Healthy Facilities Institute (HFI) and the Indoor Wellness Council (IWC) do not endorse products.