During the pandemic, it is undeniable that there’s been an increased focus on cleanliness. However, in some cases, businesses haven’t been incorporating the safest protocols. With cold and flu season underway, it is time to reconsider how well your facility’s cleaning program is working and if it’s the best option for the wellbeing of employees and visitors.

A popular trend since COVID-19 emerged is the concept of ‘hygiene theater.’ This is when essential cleaning crosses the line to overcleaning, thus wasting resources like time, money and products and putting the safety of cleaning professionals and facility guests at risk. To combat hygiene theater, consider a green cleaning program instead.

The Benefits of Green Cleaning

In the past, green cleaning has often been considered ineffective, but that’s not the case. If approached correctly, green cleaning programs can be a sustainable, economic endeavor that helps keep employees and visitors safe. There are many reasons why green cleaning is an excellent choice for your facility, especially during seasons of increased illness. These include:

  1. Reduced cases of illness –Most importantly, green cleaning enables facilities to target pathogens of concern to reduce their spread. It’s been proven that sick workers lead to reduced productivity and can even cost employers $2,660 per worker per year. By reducing the risk that people will become infected in your building, you can support health and productivity.
  2. Enhanced safety – Traditional cleaning chemicals with long ingredient lists can result in side effects like skin irritation, headaches and more for those who clean or are present while cleaning takes place. Using green cleaning products and practices can help reduce exposure to chemical irritants that worsen symptoms of asthma and other lung illnesses.
  3. Better indoor air quality – With many people spending more time inside during the winter months, it’s essential that facility managers prioritize good indoor air quality (IAQ). Poor IAQ can lead to symptoms like fatigue, dizziness and even respiratory illnesses. Cleaning and disinfecting with green chemicals and regularly performing these tasks helps uphold IAQ.
  4. Alignment with your sustainability initiatives – Cleaning programs in commercial facilities consume a lot of resources, especially now that viral threats like SARS-CoV-2 are encouraging more frequent cleaning. A green cleaning program can incorporate durable tools made from recycled materials and energy- and water-saving tools and equipment to help you reduce consumption and meet your own sustainability goals.
  5. Improved brand reputation –Increasingly, the public is demanding that businesses find ways to be more sustainable. Plus, the pandemic has resulted in a push for organizations to also keep the public safe. Green cleaning programs accomplish both of these tasks, enabling facilities to give people reassurance that their health is prioritized without harming the environment.

Recommendations for Going Green

To successfully implement a green cleaning plan, it’s important to first choose the right cleaning solutions. Considering germs are more likely to spread during the winter months, increasing cleaning frequencies is a must. As certain cleaning products can have harmful effects on our health, especially cleaning professionals who use them daily, take a close look at the formulations of your cleaners, disinfectants and other solutions you may be using. According to the Mayo Clinic, prolonged exposure to cleaning fumes can negatively impact lung function over time.

Once you have the right products in place, consider the tools and supplies that your team will use to apply these products. For example, launderable microfiber cloths are often part of green cleaning programs, as they reduce the levels of waste associated with one-time-use wipes. Mop buckets that help keep clean water separated from dirty water enable cleaning teams to ultimately use less water as they address floors that are easily contaminated by snow, salt and dirt during the winter. Look for manufacturers that promote their commitment to sustainability and responsibly source materials to ensure the supplier is aligned with your green cleaning mission.

Set Your Cleaning Team Up for Success

There are multiple ways in which a green cleaning program can benefit your business, but the priority during cold and flu season is to help keep your employees and facility visitors as healthy as possible. By incorporating a green cleaning program, business leaders can improve the typically resource-intensive process of cleaning while also limiting the spread of germs. It’s a win-win-win for the environment, the bottom line and the people who clean and visit your facility.