North Carolina State University, Chapman University in California, Coca-Cola Enterprises in the Netherlands and ISS, a commercial facilities service provider, are just a few of the institutions that have made the switch to chemical-free cleaning.
Two years ago, NC State replaced its traditional cleaners such as Diversey Glance and Comet Cleaner with a Tennant Orbio SC 5000 split stream water technology to clean floors, surfaces and even urinals. The Orbio system uses a salt-based, chemical-free process where water passes through the system, giving it an electrical charge. The solution cleans and sanitizes surfaces, leaving them 99 percent germ free, according to Randy Reed, deputy assistant director of housekeeping at NC State.
Other facilities are sanitizing facilities with such technologies as steam vapor systems, spray and vac systems using pressurized water to remove and loosen soils, and ozonated and electrolyzed systems that use electricity to turn water into a cleaning agent. Microfiber cloths and mops which only require water to remove dirt and germs are also being used.
Stephen Ashkin, executive director of The Green Cleaning Network, estimates that 30 percent to 50 percent of corporations across the US are now cleaning their facilities with eco-friendly chemical cleaners or cleaners that contain no chemicals whatsoever. However, Ashkin personally dislikes the term “chemical-free” cleaning, noting that no cleaning product or device completely avoids chemicals.
Whether these systems are completely chemical-free or not hasn’t affected sales for the bigger players in the market. In April, Tennant, along with Tursano, maker of the Lotus Pro (another split stream water technology cleaner) and Ecolab all reported positive first quarter earnings.
However, the bulk of the market is still in the commercial sector, as the cost of these devices is prohibitive for most homeowners, and Pushkin estimates that residential cleaning only makes up between 1 percent and 5 percent of the market.
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