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Commercial Cleaning Services in Detroit

Ebola: Prevention and Control for the Cleaning Industry

What is Ebola?

Ebola hemorrhagic fever (EHF) is the severe, life-threatening disease caused by infection with an Ebola virus. Many people who contract EHF die from it. Find ISSA’s official statement and suggested talking points regarding cleaning to reduce risks related to Ebola.

Worker Protection

Workers performing cleaning tasks in areas contaminated by symptomatic individuals with EHF or environments reasonably anticipated to be contaminated with infectious body fluids are at risk of exposure. That is why it is important to follow the worker protection guidelines set forth in the OSHAFact Sheet on Cleaning and Decontamination of Ebola on Surfaces—see below.

Appropriate Disinfectants

Use an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-registered disinfectant that is effective against a non-enveloped virus to disinfect hard non-porous environmental surfaces. Look for products with a label which claims to be effective against non-enveloped viruses such as norovirus, rotavirus, adenovirus, or the poliovirus.

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Restrooms: Where Are the Germs Really?


According to a study by NSF International, a not-for-profit standards-development, testing, and certification organization, more than 90 percent of restroom users perform some type of “restroom gymnastics” when using a public restroom: using paper towels to touch handles and faucets; shoe bottoms to flush toilets; and elbows to open and close doors, turn on electric hand dryers, or operate manual dispensers.

The study also found that some users crouch precariously above the toilet seat without ever touching it. And in ladies’ restrooms, feminine-hygiene products are often flushed down toilets because women do not care to touch the lids of typical feminine-hygiene dispensers. This can cause serious plumbing problems for a facility, as pipes can be clogged by sanitary napkins.

The study concluded that most restroom users have developed a “Howard Hughes–type” paranoia and will do just about anything to avoid touching restroom surfaces. Unfortunately, some of this paranoia is based on fact. Using a variety of measurement techniques, such as ATP rapid-monitoring systems, we know that many health-threatening germs are present in public restrooms to varying degrees, including Streptococcus, Staphylococcus, E. coli, Shigella bacteria, the Hepatitis A virus, and the common-cold virus.

Here, There, But Not Everywhere

According to a study by Elliott Affiliates, a Baltimore, MD-based consulting firm that works with the facility-management industry, there is not a high degree of connection between how clean a restroom looked and the level of contamination found.

So where are the germs?  We might, according to several studies, be surprised where germs are—and are not. For instance:


  • Toilet seats: Although most public-restroom users consider the toilet seat germ center No. 1, it is, in fact, not a common vehicle for transmitting disease. And even if a toilet seat does become contaminated, a user would have to have a cut or open sore on the buttocks for cross-contamination to occur. Even outdoor portable restrooms, according to a study by University of Arizona microbiologist Dr. Charles Gerba, were found to be cleaner than picnic tables, playground equipment, shopping-cart handles, and escalator handles.
  • Sinks and faucets: Germs do colonize on faucet handles, and a restroom sink may actually be the most germ-ridden surface in a public restroom. One reason for this is that the dampness of the surface helps keep microorganisms alive. Sensor-controlled faucets or the use of paper towels to touch the faucet help alleviate this problem. Rarely, it seems, do users actually touch a restroom sink.
  • Toilet mists: Although the toilet seat may be relatively safe, this is not true of toilet mists. Each time a toilet is flushed, microscopic mists are released from the bowl. These mists contain a host of germs and bacteria and—depending on the type of toilet, water pressure, and age of the fixture—can cover as much as five feet around the toilet.
  • Feminine-hygiene disposal units: Apparently, there are real reasons many women prefer not to touch these dispensers. A study by the American Society of Microbiology stated that “the outside of a sanitary napkin receptacle is one of the most contaminated ‘hot spots’ in the ladies room.” Typical feminine-hygiene dispensers become contaminated as they are used and are often contaminated once again as a result of the toilet mists mentioned above.


Now that we know where the germ-related problems are in public restrooms, we can emphasize more cleaning in those areas where it’s most needed—and determine the best method for cleaning these areas.



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Welcome to Green Cleaning 3.0


In a sense, we are now beginning Green Cleaning 3.0. Green Cleaning 1.0 began all the way back in the mid-1990s when, after an Executive Order by then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, federal offices and facilities were required to start using environmentally preferable cleaning tools and supplies whenever and wherever possible. Clinton’s order resulted in federal facilities transferring to green cleaning products and, because the federal government is such a huge purchaser of cleaning supplies, sparked manufacturers in the professional cleaning industry to develop green cleaning products more earnestly.

Green Cleaning 2.0 came into its own in the mid-2000s. That is when the demand for environmentally preferable cleaning products moved into private industry. More and more facilities were seeking the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED) certification and could earn LEED points by using green cleaning products. Today, buildings are required to have a green cleaning strategy in place to even be considered for LEED certification. In addition, more types of facilities started transferring to green cleaning, including schools, health care facilities, office buildings, and hotels. The result was substantial growth in the green cleaning market.

Green Cleaning 3.0 began evolving over the past few years. The use of environmentally preferable cleaning products has now become status quo, with more facilities in scores of industries selecting green cleaning products first and only selecting a traditional product if a green one does not exist or is cost or performance prohibitive. However, Green Cleaning 3.0 has brought a number of challenges with it. Among these are the following:

  • Staying current. In general, cleaning contractors and facility managers are now interested in learning about what green cleaning tools, chemicals, and equipment are available today that were not available a few years back. Their goal is to see if newer, better-performing, and more cost-effective products have come on the market since they first transferred to a green cleaning program.
  • Focusing on sustainability. An increasing number of cleaning professionals are looking for ways to reduce waste, recycle, and minimize their use of natural resources. In some cases, they are doing this because they believe it is the morally right thing to do. In other situations, they are required to take sustainability steps in order to do business with large purchasers of their products and services.
  • Eliminating redundancy. Traditionally, contractors and facility managers have selected a variety of green cleaning chemicals and products each designed to perform a specific task. However, they are realizing some of these products (or newly introduced products) can be used for multiple purposes. To reduce costs, reduce waste, minimize training requirements, and streamline ordering, contractors and managers want to minimize the number of products they select and eliminate those that are no longer needed.
  • Cold-water cleaning. End-users are aware that cold-water dilution is often recommended in green cleaning programs, and it also fits in with their goals to become more sustainable and use less energy. However, they need more information about the uses and best practices for these products before they can make educated buying decisions.
  • Eliminating ready-to-use products (RTUs). Although RTUs are convenient, contractors and managers are opting to eliminate ready-to-use cleaning products, preferring to select chemicals in larger, 5-gallon containers instead. While buying in bulk helps promote sustainability, a significant cost savings can be achieved, as well. More concentrated cleaning chemicals in large drums typically last longer.
  • Looking beyond chemicals. Many cleaning professionals are investigating cleaning equipment and procedures that do not require the use of cleaning chemicals―green or traditional. Sometimes referred to as chemical-free cleaning, this involves using equipment or products that perform using engineered water. In certain situations, this may turn out to be the ultimate in green cleaning.


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The Difference Between Sanitizing and Disinfecting

In the cleaning industry, there are many misunderstandings about disinfectants and sanitizers. The terms are frequently interchanged in discussions, as many people believe they have the same meaning. Though they are similar, there are differences between sanitizing and disinfecting.

A sanitizer is a chemical that reduces the number of microorganisms to a safe level. It doesn’t need to eliminate 100 percent of all organisms to be effective.Sanitizing a surface makes that surface sanitary or free of visible dirt contaminants that could affect your health. Sanitizing is meant to reduce, not kill, the occurrence and growth of bacteria, viruses and fungi. Disinfecting a surface will “kill” the microscopic organisms as claimed on the label of a particular product.

A disinfectant is a chemical that completely destroys all organisms listed on its label. The organisms it kills are disease-causing bacteria and pathogens, and it may or may not kill viruses and fungi. From a legal standpoint (U.S Environmental Protection Agency guidelines), disinfectants must reduce the level of pathogenic bacteria by 99.999 percent during a time frame greater than 5 minutes but less than 10 minutes.

Practical Example

If we start with 1 million organisms on a surface then a disinfectant must kill 100 percent of them; zero left. A sanitizer only reduces the number of organisms down to 1,000 and does nothing about virus and fungus.

Sanitizers are typically involved with the cleaning of food-service areas. Disinfectants are typically involved with the cleaning of medical facilities.


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Quiz: Understanding Hospital-Acquired Infections

During the 1830s, hospitalism was a term used to identify a growing problem in hospitals throughout northern Europe. It referred to diseases contracted by patients because of their stay in a hospital. Health officials at that time believed hospitalism was caused by poor ventilation; few believed in germs or cross contamination. Today, hospitalism is known as nosocomial or hospital-associated (or -acquired) infections (HAIs). We now know that along with other measures, hygienic cleaning can help prevent these illnesses.

The following short quiz is designed to test your knowledge of HAIs. After all, the more cleaning we know about HAIs, the better we will be able to prevent them. Take the test and then check your answers below:

  1. About how many people acquire HAIs in the U.S. each year?
    1. 100,000
    2. 500,000
    3. 1 million
    4. 2 million
  2. What are the total costs of treating HAI patients each year in the U.S.?
    1. Less than US$3 billion
    2. About $3 billion
    3. About $4 billion
    4. More than $4 billion
  3. What is the number of extra days a patient typically stays in a hospital as a result of an HAI?
    1. Five
    2. 10
    3. 20
    4. More than 20
  4. What is the average number of patients that die each year in the U.S. due to HAIs?
    1. 5,000
    2. 10,000
    3. 20,000
    4. 30,000
    5. More than 50,000
  5. Where are HAIs ranked among causes of death in the U.S.?
    1. 10th
    2. 12th
    3. Fourth
    4. Fifth
  6. What percentages of HAI cases are preventable?
    1. All
    2. 70 percent
    3. 50 percent
    4. About 30 percent


  1. D
  2. D
  3. C
  4. E
  5. C
  6. B



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Cleaning for Health

If there is one expression that has become the motto, if not the marching orders, of today’s professional cleaning industry, it is “cleaning for health.” This all-important phrase was likely first coined by Dr. Michael Berry in his precedent-setting book, Protecting the Built Environment: Cleaning for Health. Since then, this concept has become powerful and significant—and rightly so.

Clean Evolution

At one time, our main purpose was to clean for appearance. But after Berry’s book was published, our industry was forced to reevaluate its primary function. We have now realized that our work and what we do for our end-customers is far more meaningful than just keeping floors shiny, counters wiped off, and carpets vacuumed. What we do helps keep people healthy.

While these changes were taking place, cleaning was also moving toward center stage in our industry. Cleaning to protect human health means reducing the negative impact cleaning can have on the health of cleaning workers and building occupants as well as protecting the environment. After all, what’s the point of having clean, sterile surfaces if people get sick because of the cleaning products used?

Around this same time, frightening public health scares, such as SARS, norovirus, MRSA, and other diseases, became prominent in headlines and news coverage throughout the world. Doctors and public health professionals were unable to stop the spread of these diseases and infections with vaccines or medications. Instead, cleaning professionals were called upon to provide health-based solutions aimed toward minimizing outbreaks and cross-contamination. In fact, one presenter at a Cleaning Industry Research Institute—CIRI—event even suggested that due to the connections between cleaning and health, the professional cleaning industry should be placed under the umbrella of the health care industry.

The link between cleaning and protecting human health is now a well-established part of the cleaning industry, lifting both our industry’s image and confidence and giving cleaning professionals a definite role and purpose beyond just tidying up facilities. However, this new role has also caused us to face a serious dilemma. How can we tell if we are cleaning to protect human health? As we all know, appearances can be deceiving when it comes to cleanliness. Fortunately, evolving methodologies can prove that visually clean surfaces are safe, healthy, and hygienically clean.



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Preventing Infections in Health Care Facilities

  Health care-associated infections (HAIs) continue to plague facilities in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that one out of every 20 patients will become infected with an HAI. [1]

  Two of the most troublesome HAIs that health care facilities face include norovirus, a pathogen that causes gastroenteritis and food poisoning, and Clostridium difficile (C. difficile), a spore-forming bacterium that causes symptoms ranging from diarrhea to life-threatening inflammation of the colon. These infections spread rapidly through populations and can cost facilities thousands of additional dollars to contain. However, there are prevention mechanisms and protocols available to help minimize outbreaks.

  HAI prevention should be a priority for health care staff working in all types of facilities including hospitals, outpatient, and long-term care facilities. Prevention is not only in the best interest of the patients, but health care staff as well.

  PROimage Facility Services Cleaning staff are knowledgeable about proper hand hygiene protocols, personal protective equipment (PPE) use, disease transmission, and cleaning and disinfection procedures for HAIs. Training and educating staff on these issues is a priority.

  The following tips and recommendations on how to prevent and manage C. difficile and norovirus outbreaks help to serve as a great primer on the importance of infection prevention and environmental surface disinfection in health care facilities. The important thing for health care cleaning staff to remember is that the standard activities of cleaning, selecting appropriate disinfectants, and monitoring practices all contribute to a safer, healthier patient environment.

C. difficile (Clostridium difficile)

  According to a recent CDC Vital Signs Report, C. difficile infections are at an all-time high and are linked to 14,000 deaths in the United States each year. A stronger germ strain also contributed to a 400 percent increase in C. difficile-related deaths between 2000 and 2007. [2]

  C. difficile can infect anyone, but older adults and those on antibiotics are most at risk. C. difficile spores are resilient and can survive on surfaces for months, allowing them to easily spread to others through contact with contaminated surfaces or health care workers’ hands.

  To help reduce the spread of C. difficile infections, each facility should have protocols in place that outline cleaning and disinfecting practices, recommended U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered products to use, and assigned roles for personnel. Always use disinfecting products that are EPA-registered to kill C. difficile and follow the label instructions to keep the surface wet for the recommended amount of time.

The CDC also has six key steps to prevention, which are listed below.

CDC’s Six Steps to C. difficile Prevention [3]

  1. Prescribe and use antibiotics carefully. About 50 percent of all antibiotics given are not needed, unnecessarily raising the risk of C. difficile infections.

  2. Test for C. difficile when patients have diarrhea while on antibiotics or within several months of taking them.

  3. Isolate patients with C. difficile immediately.

  4. Wear gloves and gowns when treating patients with C. difficile, even during short visits. Hand sanitizer does not kill C. difficile, and hand washing may not be sufficient.

  5. Clean room surfaces with an approved, spore-killing disinfectant after a patient with C. difficile has been treated there.

  6. When a patient transfers, notify the new facility if the patient has a C. difficile infection.


  Recent study statistics from the February 2012 issue of the American Journal of Infection Control show that norovirus is the leading cause of HAI outbreaks. Norovirus is responsible for 18.2 percent of all infection outbreaks and 65 percent of ward closures in United States hospitals.

  Like C. difficile, norovirus is highly contagious, causes diarrhea in patients, and is transmitted to others through touching infected surfaces, eating contaminated food, or by having direct contact with a contaminated individual. Norovirus outbreaks are especially difficult to contain and control once a health care facility is contaminated.

  Maintaining a proactive disinfecting protocol against norovirus is extremely important for all health care facilities. Cleaning staff should work with their infection control departments to determine appropriate disinfecting and monitoring procedures that are best suited to their facility. Health care cleaning staff should be advised to use the proper protective equipment (gown and gloves), use EPA-registered disinfectants with a label claim to kill norovirus, and clean rooms and high-touch surface areas more frequently during a suspected norovirus outbreak. Follow the product manufacturer’s instructions and pay attention to how long a product needs to remain wet on a surface to kill norovirus.

The CDC also recommends the following procedures for prevention and disinfection against norovirus.

CDC Norovirus Prevention Tips [4,5]

Patients with suspected norovirus may be placed in private rooms or share rooms with other patients with the same infection.

  1. Follow hand-hygiene guidelines and carefully wash hands with soap and water after contact with patients with norovirus infection.
  2. Use gowns and gloves when in contact with or caring for patients who are symptomatic with norovirus.
  3. Routinely clean and disinfect high-touch patient surfaces and equipment with an EPA-approved product with a label claim for norovirus.
  4. Increase the frequency of cleaning and disinfection of patient care areas and frequently touched surfaces during outbreaks of norovirus gastroenteritis (e.g., increase ward/unit level cleaning twice daily to maintain cleanliness, with frequently touched surfaces cleaned and disinfected three times daily using EPA-approved products for health care settings).
  5. Frequently touched surfaces include—but are not limited to—commodes, toilets, faucets, hand/bed railing, telephones, door handles, computer equipment, and kitchen preparation surfaces.
  6. Remove and wash contaminated clothing or linens.
  7. Exclude health care workers who have symptoms consistent with norovirus from work.


[1] CDC. Healthcare-associated infections: The Burden. Retrieved from:

[2] CDC. March 2012. Vital Signs: Making Health Care Safer: Retrieved from:

[3] CDC. March 2012. Vital Signs: Making Health Care Safer. Retrieved from:

[4] CDC. Key Infection Control Recommendations for the Control of Norovirus Outbreaks in Healthcare Settings. Retrieved from:

[5] CDC. Healthcare-associated Infections (HAIs): Norovirus in Healthcare Facilities. Retrieved from:

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Examining Particles and How our health is affected by these particles?

Our respiratory system consists of the nose throat and lungs. Most allergic reactions are caused by particles > 10μm. These large-size particles irritate mucous membranes in the cranial cavity.

 The pulmonary system’s natural defense mechanism usually clears them from the lungs. The epiglottis is a flap of tissue covering the trachea, it opens to allow breathing and closes to block organisms and matter in the mouth and throat from entering the respiratory tract.

  Smaller particles (<2.5μm) can move deep into the lungs and if not cleared naturally, the lungs can be scarred or the particles remain trapped, creating conditions for diseases like cancer.

  Most large particles can be cleaned effectively by vacuuming. However, there are some particles which aren’t effectively managed through vacuuming alone. The following table represents some of the particles which must be flushed out with a wet extraction cleaning system or shampoo system not a vacuum cleaner.These particles can build up over time in certain fabrics and carpets.

The cleaning process

A lot of these particles will end up on horizontal surfaces throughout a building. Daily surface cleaning with a disinfectant cleaner will take care of a lot of these particles. A disinfectant kills all pathogenic bacteria, with the exception of spores from a hard surface. Based off characteristics the hard surface disinfectant cleaners can be put into different classes. Probably the most important are:

1. QAC (Quaternary Ammonium Compound)

2. Phenolic Compounds

3. Chlorine Compounds

Quaternary Ammonium Compound

Quaternaries are recommended for most hard surface disinfectant applications. Quaternaries are usually formulated with nonionic detergents since they are incompatible with anionic detergents.

They have the unique quality of working best as disinfectants in the 9 to 10 ph range. The greater detergency efficacy also occurs in this pH range: the resultant product, therefore, is a detergent/disinfectant which combines the best of both.

Misuse and abuse of the alkaline ph detergent disinfectants with resultant damage to some floor waxes/finishes has led to the development of detergent/disinfectant formulations with a neutral or near neutral pH (industry neutral ph=6-9; bleach ph=12). Many of these pH products with not damage floor finishes if misused and abused.

Quaternaries, when diluted for use, are low in toxicity and irritation properties and are good broad spectrum disinfectants, capable of killing a wide variety of gram negative and gram positive bacteria, fungi and viruses. They do not contribute to objectionable odor problems. In fact, they have odor counteracting properties of their own. If properly formulated, the nonionic detergents can be synergistic with the quaternary disinfectants in terms of bactericidal effect.

Phenolic Compounds

Phenolic disinfectants, due to their chemical nature and mode of activity, function best at a pH range of 7 to 7. Phenolics are used to clean blood spills as part of the OSHA Bloodborne Pathogen Standard. Since phenolics are not compatible with nonionic or cationic detergents, they must be formulated with anionic surfactants or soap. Since hard surface cleaners are typically made with nonionics, phenolics tend to have less cleaning ability than quats.

Products containing a use solution pH of greater than 10 may attack a floor finish. One other disadvantage of most phenolic formulations i the strong phenolic odor. Another area of concern is the stability of phenolic disinfectants. Some detergents can inactivate phenolics


The most common Chlorine disinfectant is household bleach. Chlorine eliminates most viruses, bacteria, molds, and algae, but not bacterial spores. Chlorine compounds are good disinfectants on clean surfaces. Chlorine compounds are more active in warm water.Chlorinated compounds can irritate skin and damage clothing, rubber goods, and some metals. Chlorine-based disinfectants are generally compatible with soaps but should never be mixed with acids. Most chlorine solutions are unstable and lose activity over time.

Source: CM Cleanfax Magazine, Nov. 2010

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Carpets, Health, and Air Quality

There have been a number of surprising studies throughout the years regarding the amount of germs and bacteria that can be found on office desks, cell phones, and the sponges we use to wipe down counters and wash dishes. However, one study that has gotten relatively little notice relates to carpets and concerns about indoor air quality (IAQ).

  In that study, which was conducted by the University of Arizona several years ago, researchers asked a group of people to wear brand-new shoes for two weeks. They were to wear the shoes everywhere—to school, to work, shopping, etc. After two weeks, the shoes were returned to be tested for contaminants that might have collected on the shoe bottoms. What researchers discovered surpassed their expectations:

  • The shoes collected more than 420,000 units of bacteria, and all the shoes had varying amounts of bacteria on them.

  • Potentially hazardous levels of E. coli were present on about one-third of the shoes.

  • Greywater, food, drinks, grease, tar, and dust were found on all of the shoes to varying degrees.

  These kinds of contaminants and bacteria all have the potential to negatively impact indoor air quality when they are walked into a facility on users’ shoes. However, in most cases, carpets act as an environmental filter, trapping soils, bacteria, and contaminants and stopping them from becoming airborne, which means healthier IAQ for everyone.

  But the effectiveness of carpeting as an environmental filter is dependent on maintenance. Carpets must be properly cleaned and maintained at regular intervals in order to protect IAQ. And this typically begins with the creation of an effective and sustainable carpet maintenance program.

Carpet Maintenance Program

  One of the first steps that must be taken before creating an effective carpet maintenance program is to study the amount of foot traffic and the number of people who generally use each carpeted area. This information will help determine the “soil rating” of the facility, which is the measure of the intensity of the soil load that can accumulate in the carpets. These ratings are designated as light, normal, moderate, heavy, or extreme. Soil ratings help determine the frequency of tasks such as vacuuming, interim carpet cleaning, and hot-water carpet extraction.

  For instance, a facility with a moderate soil rating should be vacuumed two to four times per week to remove dust, contaminants, and particulates from carpets. Additionally:

    • Spotting should be performed daily or as soon as spots are noticed.

    • Heavy traffic areas should be cleaned using either interim or restorative carpet cleaning methods every six months.

    • All carpets should be cleaned using hot-water carpet extraction at least once per year.

  Unfortunately, determining the soil rating of a facility and how frequently carpet cleaning tasks should be performed to help protect IAQ can be determined only on a case-by-case basis. “Facilities vary in traffic, soiling rates, and usage,” explains Heiferman. “Additionally, climate and the desired appearance level of the carpet are considerations that must be evaluated in order to build an effective maintenance program.”

The Importance of Carpet Extraction in Protecting Indoor Air Quality (IAQ)

 Earlier we referenced the role of “interim” cleaning methods as part of an overall carpet maintenance program. Typically this refers to carpet cleaning methods that remove soils found on the top surfaces of the carpet. These include vacuuming as well as shampooing and bonnet cleaning methods. According to Mark Baxter, an engineer with U.S. Products, while these methods can be effective, the key thing to remember is that they are, as the name implies, only interim or short-term measures.

 “Interim methods can only do so much. In order for carpets to serve as a filter and protect IAQ, they must be thoroughly cleaned using restorative methods.”

 Baxter takes this a step further, advising that carpets should be cleaned using hot-water carpet extractors that heat the water or cleaning solution to more than 200°F. “[Heat] improves the effectiveness of cleaning chemicals so that less chemical may be necessary. This makes the entire carpet cleaning [process] greener and more sustainable and helps protect IAQ,” says Baxter.

Complete Carpet maintenance

  “A [successful] program [will be one] that addresses all of these cleaning and maintenance issues, beginning with the proper training of cleaning technicians, promotes sustainability and protects IAQ and the health of all building users,” says Baxter. “It also ensures that soils and contaminants are removed from carpets, which not only enhances their appearance but increases their longevity as well.”


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The Dirt on Dirt

The Dirt on Dirt

In the professional cleaning industry, we are always talking about dirt. Sure, it goes by a variety of pseudonyms such as soils, contaminants, impurities, unwanted matter, particulates, and the like. But ultimately, what we are talking about is plain old dirt—what we in the professional cleaning industry are tasked to remove from facilities every day.

But have you ever wondered what’s in dirt? Street dirt, the kind that most often finds its way into the facilities we clean, is comprised of many of the following (starting with the largest amounts first):

    • Humus: Organic material such as compost
    • Cement powder or dust: Composed of limestone and carbonate rock
    • Silica: Sand or quartz
    • Clay: Fine-grained materials, with variable amounts of moisture trapped in the mineral structure of the particulate


  • Sodium chloride: Salt
  • Gelatin: Solid substances from animal skin and bones
  • Oleic acid: Derived from the fat from animals and plants
  • Carbon black: material produced by the incomplete combustion of heavy petroleum products.

Much of what is in dirt is so small it becomes airborne. And studies indicate that as much as 80 percent—possibly more—is tracked in by people using a facility. And now you know the dirt on dirt.


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