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The ARCSI Tech Corner: Green Cleaners

Q: I hear multiple terms used to describe ‘green’ cleaning agents. So I have to wonder, is organic better than natural? How about sustainable? I’m confused.

A: You have every right to be confused. Marketers use words that sound warm and fuzzy but often have no real meaning. Let’s take a look at just a few of the terms in use.

GREEN: Ideally, ‘green’ means that a product has less negative impact on the environment or on people’s health or hopefully both, than similar, traditional products in the marketplace. Some products are self-certified, i.e. a manufacturer says this product is greener than their regular line. Others are certified by a third party. The three most recognized third party certifiers are Green Seal, EPA’s Design for the Environment (DFE) and Canada’s EcoLogo. Each has slightly different criteria for certification.

NATURAL: This normally means that the chemicals used to make this product exist in nature in the form used. It can also refer to natural substances that are altered through what are considered natural processes. An example would be apple juice fermented into vinegar. It is very important not to confuse natural with safe. Remember that curare is a natural toxin used by certain indigenous peoples to create poison-tip arrows, giving the hunter using that substance a surer kill. Natural can be quite unsafe.

ORGANIC: The term organic has taken on a connotation of ‘healthful’ from the food industry. However, it has a different meaning in chemistry. Organic chemicals are simply chemicals containing carbon. These chemicals often originated in life forms but may have changed significantly since. Thus vinegar is an organic chemical, or more accurately, a combination of organic chemicals, but so is oil, gasoline, etc. To say our cleaning agents use organic ingredients sourced from nature may sound good, but is not particularly meaningful.

SUSTAINABLE: At its most basic, ‘sustainable’ means that the cleaning agents are from renewable sources such as plants that can be grown, harvested and re-grown. The term ‘sustainable’ is evolving in some cases to reflect more extensive environmental and social issues.

So if you’re confused, join the club. It truly can be a jungle out there. It’s up to you to check out the claims, sort through the verbiage and find the best resources for your operation.

Here’s to your success and prosperity!

Bruce Vance is a 20-year veteran of the industry and holds the IICRC Master Textile Cleaner certification. He also holds industry certifications in Stone and Tile care, Hard Floor care, and Applied Microbial Remediation. He is the current chairperson of a national cleaning industry’s Technical Advisory Committee. The opinions expressed above are those of Mr. Vance and not those of ARCSI.

Activeion Ionator

A Zing Zap Cleaning Service has added new technology to our products and now provides chemical-free cleaning for its most important clients – your children, your pets, and you.

WE ARE THE FIRST CENTRAL FLORIDA (Lake and West Orange counties) CLEANING COMPANY TO OFFER THIS NANO TECHNOLOGY.

The Activeion Ionator is a powerful tool with ZERO harmful chemicals. Most household cleaners mask the poisonous chemicals by adding bright colors and strong fragrances. This tool kills more than 99.9% of harmful bacteria (E. coli, VRE, Salmonella, MRSA, Pseudomonas, Staph, Listeria and E. coli O157:H7) and the 2009 Pandemic H1N1 Influenza A virus. All it takes to kill germs is to spray nonporous, hard surfaces at a distance of 3 – 4 inches for 6 seconds. No additional dwell time required. It’s that easy! PURE RENEWABLE CLEAN.

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