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Green Cleaning in a Post-COVID Era

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CHANNEL ISLANDS, CALIF.—As we enter a post-COVID era in commercial cleaning, it is important to note that some schools and commercial facilities are beginning to forget all they learned about effective and thorough cleaning.

This includes realizing the value and health benefits of green cleaning, according to Steve Ashkin, long known as the “Father of Green Cleaning.”

Steve Ashkin

“Every day, I hear about organizations cutting back on their cleaning staff or asking their [custodial] workers to clean more square feet in the same amount of time,” says Ashkin.

“Asking fewer workers to do more in a shorter amount of time is a setup for failure when it comes to cleaning for health.”

He adds that some organizations may also be abandoning green cleaning. “This may be the result of ‘hygiene theater,’” explains Ashkin.

Hygiene theater refers to a period when just about anything and everything was used to clean facilities to prevent the spread of COVID. Many of these measures later proved costly, did not work, or were even harmful.

Why Organizations are Cutting Back on Cleaning

Ashkin believes there are three key reasons organizations are scaling back on cleaning. These are:

  1. Economic uncertainty. Many organizations are concerned about the economy, so they are scaling back to reduce operating costs, including cleaning and maintenance costs.
  1. Changes in office space occupancy. Many office buildings are economically depressed and struggling to re-invent themselves.
  1. Post-pandemic complacency. Some hold the belief that now that the pandemic is over, green cleaning and advanced cleaning procedures learned during the pandemic to protect health are no longer needed.

Green cleaning, so we are clear, is the use of cleaning products and techniques that have a reduced impact on the user, building users, and the environment. Still, they are proven to effectively remove soil and contaminants from surfaces.

To help ensure we don’t abandon green and effective cleaning in a post-COVID era, Ashkin suggests the following:

  • Continue selecting Green-certified cleaning solutions and products.
  • Measure cleaning performance more frequently using scientific tools such as ATP monitoring devices.
  • Hire enough workers to the job right; consider work loading strategies to ensure proper staffing levels.
  • Encourage more custodial training.

“Finally, cleaning contractors need to communicate with facility managers and explain why effective, green cleaning is essential to the health of their facilities,” adds Ashkin. “Encourage them to perform a full assessment of [their] cleaning needs and realize that cutting corners and eliminating green cleaning is not a healthy strategy to reduce costs.”

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