Maintenance & Operations (Managing the Physical Plant)
Cleaning With Water
- By Mike Watt
- July 1st, 2019
What has been a growing
trend in the professional cleaning
industry is the use of cleaning
equipment that cleans without the use of cleaning
Water and agitation (friction) have always
been recognized as one way to clean some
surfaces. However, these new systems, take
this a step further.
Whether referred to as “chemical-free” cleaning, “activated
water,” or “engineered water,” the essence is the same: cleaning is
performed without the use of any cleaning agents.
To help eliminate confusion, let’s refer to this type of cleaning
as chemical-free cleaning. Examples include the following:
- Activated and electrolyzed water. While these technologies do
differ, primarily what happens is electricity is used to activate or
electrolyze water. This turns the water into a cleaning solution.
- Dry or vapor cleaning. This refers to commercial-grade steam
vapor (dry vapor) machines. These machines can heat tap
water to temperatures of 240°F to 310°F. The steam is applied to
surfaces via a variety of insulated tools and accessories, thereby
safely providing the energy needed to break soil bonds and release
contaminants into water suspension, after which they can
be removed by wiping or vacuuming.
- Aqueous ozone. This system creates ozone through the interaction
of electricity and oxygen. It is then infused into water and
used for cleaning.
There are several reasons this type of cleaning has grown in
popularity. For example, while the cost of cleaning is typically 90
percent labor with only about 10 percent associated with cleaning
agents, chemical-free cleaning can still prove to be a cost savings.
The Benefits and Limits of Chemical-Free
Chemical-free cleaning is also considered a very safe way to
clean surfaces. Safety is always a concern in cleaning and using
cleaning agents. We must also add that this type of cleaning is
viewed as very environmentally preferable.
Finally, in many situations, chemical-free cleaning has proven
effective. Major manufacturers of floorcare equipment have introduced
floor machines that use just water for cleaning, and these
machines have been well received. However, there are issues that
custodial workers and school administrators should be aware of
when it comes to the use of chemical free cleaning systems. Very
simply, they are not effective in all types of cleaning situations.
Among these are the following:
- Chemical-free cleaning has proven most effective when used to
clean lightly soiled surfaces. When encountering more heavily
soiled surfaces, cleaning agents are typically needed.
- While some manufacturers of chemical-free cleaning equipment
report they can disinfect surfaces, cleaning workers and campus
and school administrators are advised to use sanitizers and
disinfectants when called for. Schools are always in a “don’t take
any chances” situation when it comes to cleaning.
- Chemical-free cleaning will likely prove ineffective when deep
cleaning, scrubbing, or stripping floors. Cleaning solutions
engineered for this purpose are usually required.
- Some custodial workers report chemical-free cleaning has not
proven effective when it comes to removing grease and oil in
food-service areas. Degreasers are explicitly made for this purpose
and should be used.
- While some custodial workers report positive experiences using
aqueous ozone, many cleaning experts believe the jury is still out
as to the long-term effectiveness of this cleaning method.
Do Your Due Diligence
As a cleaning chemical manufacturer, some readers might
think my goal here is to point out the value of using cleaning solutions.
Not so. My objective is to let school and campus administrators/cleaning professionals know that these systems are available,
along with their pros and cons, and encourage due diligence.
What is most important is that administrators and managers
select the most effective and cost-effective cleaning methods that
protect the health of their facilities and all that use them. CPM
Mike Watt is head of Training and New Product Development at Avmor,
a leading North American manufacturer of professional cleaning
solutions. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of College Planning & Management.
Mike Watt is head of Training and New Product Development at Avmor, a leading North American manufacturer of professional cleaning solutions. He can be reached at email@example.com.