Tips for Finding a Real Green Cleaning Company- Beyond the RFP

Just about every cleaning company is now touting their “green” record. Companies have replaced their old equipment for more sustainable, greener choices, and they have traded in their toxic cleaners for safer ones. But how do you know that the custodial company you are working with is doing more than adding some sustainability check boxes to their RFP? Building owners/managers understand now more than ever that sustainability practices are not only good for the environment, but are also cost effective. So what is a building owner to do? How can they cut through the red tape to find out who his delivering a green service?

We hope these tips will help you figure it out:

Training: Inquire about the training regimen — it should include initial green training as well as safety training and refresher courses.

Standard Operating Procedures- The SOP’s should specify acceptable procedures for each process. They should be clear and reasonable and should fully address waste handling and disposal, as well.

Management- What are the metrics of the day-to-day management process? There should be a clear commitment to managing green metrics.

Reporting- Are reports and results readily and easily available to you?

Purchasing- Is there a clearly defined purchasing and distribution process that outlines what is acceptable and what is not? If the building manager is doing the purchasing, is there a tool available to ensure they are purchasing the right supplies?

Safety- Ask to look at their safety records. A company’s safety record says a whole lot about its overall management and practices as a whole.

It is a big challenge to find the right custodial company for your building, we hope these tips help you through the process.

 

 

 

What Does Clean Smell Like?

Have you ever noticed that certain scents can bring forth a rush of memories? Whenever I walk into an elementary school cafeteria, I am instantly transported back to my youth. I can almost feel the plastic tray in my hands as I try to make the difficult choice of what to eat that day. Certain colognes remind me of old flames, bringing about an intense emotional reaction. The same holds true for how most people expect “clean” to smell.

Most of us have been raised with bleach, pine, ammonia, and lemon oil as the scents that we associate with cleanliness. When we walk into a building and smell bleach and pine, we just know that the building is clean. That’s what our homes smelled like after our families cleaned, so surely that is what a clean building should smell like. But are those scents actually the smell of “clean”? Not really. What we are smelling that we think is “clean” is fumes from the chemical cleaners. Many of those fumes are toxic. But since our brains associate the scents with cleanliness, we are rarely affronted by them.

What does “clean” smell like, then? In a word: nothing. A truly clean environment should not have any odors. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of clean is:

a : free from dirt or pollution <changed to clean clothes><clean solar energy>

b : free from contamination or disease <a clean wound>

c : free or relatively free from radioactivity <a clean atomic explosion>

A truly clean environment should not have chemical odors. If you are cleaning with non-toxic and chemical-free products, you may end up smelling a little vinegar, or maybe a little bit of orange, lemon, or lavender. But that is about it. Many of the natural cleaning products on the market today are scented with essential oils such as lavender, orange, tea tree, pine, and lemon because the consumer expects their home to have those fragrances if it is really clean. Incidentally, it helps that those oils do have amazing antibacterial and sanitizing properties.

Landrum’s Services Top 10 Eco-Friendly Cleaning Ingredients

When we mention air pollution, the first things that come to mind are car exhaust and smog. According to the EPA, indoor air is typically 2-5 times more polluted than outdoor air. Winter is just around the corner, and with it comes closed windows and very little time outdoors in the fresh air. Now is the time to start using Landrum’s Services Top 10 Eco-Friendly Cleaning Ingredients to eliminate the harmful chemicals from the air in your workplace (and home).

Non-toxic ingredients are just as effective at cleaning, disinfecting, and deodorizing as harmful, toxic ingredients like chlorine bleach and triclosan.

1. Baking Soda- Works great as a deodorizer and non-abrasive cleanser. Try sprinkling it on your carpets before you vacuum, mixing it with water to use as a paste to clean your oven, and applying to a damp sponge to clean sinks and counters.
2. White Distilled Vinegar- Clean windows, remove soap scum, sanitize counters and refrigerators, and much more. Vinegar can be used full-strength in a bottle to be sprayed on virtually any surface that you want to deodorize. To use as a glass cleaner, we recommend using equal parts vinegar and water. For a streak-free, lint-free shine, wipe dry with crumpled newspaper.
3. Borax- Cleanse, deodorize, disinfect, soften your water, and remove stains with this wonder-product. Sprinkle borax on your carpet, let it settle in for about 30 minutes, then vacuum away your carpet odors. Add it to your laundry to increase the efficacy of your detergent, and sprinkle it along your walls to deter pests.
4. MonoFoil- Eliminate molds, mildews, and microbes for long periods of time with MonoFoil. Apply MonoFoil to all areas that are prone to mold, and it keeps the mold away for up to 30 days. Use it on all your frequently touched areas like doors, phones, bathroom surfaces, and the copy machine to prevent the spread of illness in the workplace.
5. Citrus Oils- These are nature’s stain removers. The acid in citrus fruits make them great cleansing agents, as well. A few small drops combined with water will work for most applications, including disinfecting, air freshening, cutting grease, and cleaning paint brushes. The wonderful scent left behind leaves everyone confident in the cleanliness of your building, as well.
6. Reusable microfiber cloths- Use these to dust. They pick up dust particles without needing any chemical help, and they leave no residue.
7. Tea Tree Oil- One of nature’s most powerful disinfectants, add 2 teaspoons to 2 cups of water and pour into a spray bottle. Spray it on anything that is musty or mildewy. Within a few days the smell will be gone. Tea tree oil is also great to use anywhere you need an antiseptic.
8. Hydrogen Peroxide- Commonly used as a disinfectant, it can be used to wash the pesticides from produce. Clean walls and countertops with 3% hydrogen peroxide by spraying on and wiping off like you would with any household cleaner. To clean floors, add 1 cup of 35% hydrogen peroxide to a gallon bucket of hot water. For everyday maintenance of floors, you can simply spray 3% hydrogen peroxide directly onto the floor and mop.
9. Washing soda- A relative of baking soda, washing soda cuts grease, cleans petroleum oil, removes wax and lipstick, and neutralizes odors.
10. Kosher salt- A little bit of kosher salt and some elbow grease make a terrific scouring powder. Stubborn coffee pot stains don’t stand a chance against kosher salt and ice cubes. Pour in 2 tablespoons of salt, add 6-8 ice cubes, and shake vigorously. Rinse it out, and you won’t believe your eyes.

These 10 items can be used as a replacement for just about any harsh cleaner you are currently using. Check out the Ecocycle website for recipes using these ingredients: http://www.ecocycle.org/hazwaste/recipes.cfm.

Breathe easier this fall and winter by using these great eco-friendly cleaning ingredients. Put a few plants in the office and let them clean the air for you. You will be surprised at how much better your workplace and home will smell, how much better you feel, and how much money you will save on sick days, tissue, and cough drops.

 

Cleaning Tip for June 2011

The summer heat is here, even though the calendar is still reading “Spring.” Homes and businesses are closing up the windows in favor of the a/c unit, and air quality concerns get moved to the forefront. I offer two tips for improving the quality of the air you breathe:

1. Use green cleaners instead of chemical-based ones:

Baking soda is a great non-abrasive cleanser for sinks & counters.

Vinegar is excellent for glass and most metal surfaces.

Borax deodorizes garbage pails and disposals, and it cleans & whitens walls and floors.

MonoFoil keeps your areas sanitized for long periods of time after cleaning, with no harmful fumes.

2. Treat your filters and clean your heat pump coil:

Odors begin emanating from the a/c unit. This is called “dirty sock syndrome” by some, and it is caused by mold and mildew building up on your heat pump coil. We recommend cleaning your heat pump and treating it with MonoFoil to prevent the return of the mold and mildew. You will also want to treat your filters with MonoFoil, as dust and allergens get to be a big problem during the summer months.

Landrum’s Services believes that your building can be spotless and smell great without the use of harsh chemicals. Contact us with any questions you may have about our green cleaning and building maintenance services:

Email admin@landrumscleaning.com or call us at 317-228-0780.

Cleaning Tip for May: The Dreaded Office Refrigerator

Ahhh, the dreaded office refrigerator. Some of you may be afraid to put your lunch in it at all, due to the mysterious odors and various leakages inside. You know that a box of baking soda goes a long way to destroy the odors inside the fridge, but did you know that baking soda is also a power house cleaner? Before you simply sit that box of baking soda on the shelf, we at Landrum’s Services recommend that you clean with it. Baking soda works well as a gentle scouring powder. Mix it with a little bit of water, and it will scour off even dried up spaghetti sauce. No more worries about harmful chemicals getting in your food when you harness the cleaning power of baking soda to tackle that refrigerator. And no more nasty food and cleaner odors, either.

4 Reasons to Promote Green Building Practices

Today it is easier than ever to incorporate green practices into your workplace. With a myriad of services and information available to businesses, building owners and managers are uncovering the benefits of following green building practices. Studies are proving that buildings that “go green” are reaping measurable financial benefits and positive public relations.

Some of the benefits of having a green building are:

Healthier Employees

Lower operating costs

Improved access to governmental incentives

Positive environmental impact

Green cleaning is one of the fastest ways to make your facility safer for employees. Sick Building Syndrome was identified in the 1960’s, and since then it has been found that approximately 30% of the workforce is affected by it. A 2002 study by the Indoor Environment Department at the Lawrence Berkley National Design Laboratory in California found that the improved air quality by use of green design and green cleaning can lower sick building symptoms by 20% to 50%, while cold and influenza are reduced by 9% to 20%, and allergies and asthma drop by 8% to 25%. The savings in productivity and time off add up quickly.

The EPA’s EnergyStar program and the LEED program are ways that businesses can be rewarded for implementing green practices.

And of course, besides the financial benefits of supporting a green building, you gain the additional benefit of knowing that your business or building is reducing its environmental footprint.

There are several sustainable ways you can protect our environment and make for a healthier workplace:

Energy and water conservation

Waste management and recycling programs

Indoor air quality improvement

Green building practices, including green cleaning

Landrum’s Services believes in supporting our partners through their transition to green practices, and we encourage you to contact us with any questions you may have about beginning your progress today.

Going Green- Don’t Forget the Clean

You have begun the journey of “going green”. You are reducing and recycling paper, lighting is energy efficient, and the staff is bringing in their own coffee mugs. Now its time to consider hiring a green cleaning service.

Most cleaning products contain harmful additives that get breathed in by you, your staff, and your customers all day long. Make sure your cleaning service uses natural cleaners so that your staff and customers can breathe easier.

More and more business and government contracts are enforcing a “green clause”, ensuring that the chain of business is green. Position yourself to be able to work with the companies who demand that their chain is following green practices from top to bottom.

One of the benefits of Landrum’s Services green cleaning program is that our products save you money in employee absenteeism. Your employees are not breathing in harsh chemicals all day long, and they also benefit from our products that keep germs at bay 24/7. Common chemical cleaners kill germs on contact, but the minute someone touches that phone again, it is contaminated. Germs are passed from person to person, and sick days accumulate.

So while you are giving yourself the advantage of opening your business up to more opportunity with other green businesses, you are also doing the “right” thing by providing a safer and healthier working environment for your employees. Visit our green cleaning page for more information.