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Cleaning Time In Schools

Going to school as a child, there were many classes (other than the four basics; Math, Science, English, and Social Studies) which taught children different skills. Music, art, drama and even gym taught kids how to excel in certain areas. Since these weren’t mandatory classes, we got to choose which electives we were most interested in. Many of those classes paid off for people I went to school with in terms of what they ended up doing for a career, and some just for a hobby (like sports and music for me). BLOG-SOJINOJIKAN

In Japan, they have come up with another lesson in school which everyone should learn about… Soji no jikan, or, “The cleaning time”, is a 15 minute period after lunch in which the students and teachers put on caps, grab their rags, brooms and dustpans and clean the classrooms. There is even “cleaning music” to make it more enjoyable.

While some people may say it seems a little rough to make children clean while at school, I’m sure they would have a change of heart when their child cleaned up after themselves after a meal or playing with their toys without having to be told several times. I know my mother probably would have fainted if she came home from work and saw me holding a broom sweeping up as a child.

So, should the United States think about possibly following suit and set aside 15 minutes a day to teach our children a little extra work ethic, cleanliness and respect? Leave a comment and let us know how you feel on the subject.

Why Go Green When It Comes To Cleaning?

While many people are embracing a greener way of life, there are some who still ask the question, “why?”. What are the benefits of going green? What are the risks of using traditional, chemical products? In this article from Facilitiesnet, titled “The Benefits of Green Cleaning”, you get to see not only the benefits of using green cleaning products but also the risks and hazards of using traditional cleaning products. BLOG-GREEN VS. CHEM

The Benefits of Green Cleaning

Green cleaning is catching on quickly. With the help of tools like LEED for Existing Buildings, which makes implementation easier by identifying the chemicals and other products to make green cleaning cost-effective, it is increasingly being recognized as a no-brainer strategy for facilities concentrating on environmental goals.

What makes green cleaning so important? One crucial factor is the potential harm that can be caused by traditional cleaning chemicals. Facility executives should understand the science behind cleaning, and how the chemicals in products can affect human health. That science should inform all decisions about cleaning programs. Properly selecting and using green cleaning products can help safeguard the health and safety of building occupants and the planet.

Science has made it clear that cleaning products can have an impact on building occupants. Some traditional products are known to contribute to health problems such as eye, skin and respiratory irritation as well as asthma and other allergic reactions, which can lead to occupant complaints and hurt attendance and productivity. Replacing these products with those that reduce the potential for harm has numerous advantages and is likely less costly than increasing the supply of fresh air or general ventilation rates.

Also important is the impact on cleaning personnel who have longer-term exposures at higher concentrations to chemical cleaning products. This exposure can sometimes lead to serious chronic illnesses such as cancer, and neurological or reproductive disorders.

The better facility executives understand how chemicals in cleaning products can cause harm, the better they will be able to choose cleaning strategies and products that will provide a healthy high performing building.

To minimize risks, it is important to understand how toxins can enter the body. These routes of exposure include ingestion, inhalation and dermal exposure.

People may ingest contaminants found in drinking water, foods and beverages, and from residues of cleaning products on food preparation surfaces, as well as from poorly cleaned hands.

Another route of exposure is inhalation. According to EPA, indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five times, and occasionally more than 100 times, higher than outdoor levels. Levels of indoor air pollutants may be of particular concern because most people spend about 90 percent of their time indoors.

Poor air quality may come from exterior sources like ozone, radon and automobile exhaust, but also from sources generated within buildings. For example, cleaners dispensed from aerosol cans, fragrances used in products that mask odors and solvents found in polishes all contain ingredients that can have a negative health impact when inhaled. As these chemicals pass from the lungs into the blood stream, they affect the nervous system and other major organs. This can result in symptoms including dizziness, respiratory distress, trigger asthma and more.

The final route of exposure is absorption through the skin. For example, 2-butoxyethanol, which is common in many traditional cleaners and degreasers (commonly called a “butyl cleaner”) , is readily absorbed through the skin and can be toxic to the reproductive system and other major body organs.

The Magic Of Vinegar

In many of our DIY green cleaner blogs, there always seems to be a use for vinegar. So much so, that my buddies and I have joked around about investing in vinegar. So why does vinegar seem to be the “go to” substance when it comes to cleaning naturally? Because it’s acidic, and can remove mineral deposits (often when diluted with water) safely from surfaces. BLOG-MAGICOFVINEGAR

I think the best part about vinegar as a green cleaning alternative, is it’s value as a “Jack of all trades”. There are literally dozens of different uses for vinegar when it comes to cleaning. Here are a few examples of cleaning jobs that can be done with vinegar when either paired with baking soda, water, or just on it’s own:

-Cleaning an Oven

-Deodorizing a Garbage Disposal

-Chrome Polish

-Drain Cleaner

-Ant / Fruit Fly Repellant

-All Purpose Kitchen / Bathroom Cleaner

-Pet Stain Remover / Deodorizer

-Grout Cleaner

-And many other uses….

Vinegar can do all of these household cleaning jobs, without the use of harsh chemicals. That is why is it seems to come up so often when talking about different green cleaning jobs using homemade solutions. So the next time you find yourself at the store about to by several different chemical cleaners, maybe you could just skip over a few isles and grab some white vinegar and baking soda instead.

Humidifier, The Best Way To Fight The Flu?

Over the past couple of weeks I have been fighting the flu. During this time, I’ve been searching for the best ways to prevent and combat the nasty illness. In fact, the last post I did was about how cleaning your house can actually help fight the spread of flu germs at home. According to an article by The Wall Street Journal, having a humidifier may be one of the best ways to “keep the flu at bay”. It also explains why the winter seems to be the worst time for the flu virus. Here is that article from The Wall Street Journal.

Burning Question | Why Is Flu Common in Winter?

Scientists have struggled to understand the correlation between cold weather and the flu. This winter has seen a particularly severe flu season for a number of reasons. A wintertime spike in flu cases isn’t only because of the chill outside, says Linsey C. Marr, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at Virginia Tech. It’s also because of the conditions inside.

The Air Test

The link between the flu virus and air humidity has long been studied, but the results were never definitive. Last year, Dr. Marr, her doctoral candidate, Wan Yang, and Elankumaran Subbiah, a professor at Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, sought to put the question to rest. They figured out the flu kept its virulent characteristics best in human mucus, which Dr. Marr took from the dripping nose of her 1-month-old baby. They spiked droplets of human mucus with live flu virus, and then exposed it to air with varying levels of moisture.

In the study, published in 2012 in the journal PLoS One, the researchers found the virus survived best at humidity below 50%, similar to the conditions found indoors in “a really heated building,” says Dr. Marr. “The virus is happy if the mucus droplet completely evaporates and leaves it floating around” in the air.

“It’s also fine in humidities above 98%, which you find in the rainy season in the tropics,” she says, where the conditions outside resemble the environment the virus finds in the body. “But in between, in a humidity of 50% to 98%, the virus doesn’t survive very well.”

The presence of influenza is quite rare in the spring, summer and fall, when people don’t use indoor heating as much and the humidity tends to be in the comfortable 50%-to-70% range, says Dr. Marr. But in the winter, when air from outside is heated and becomes drier, the flu virus survives well.

In other words, give a virus a dry room heated to 70-to-80 degrees Fahrenheit, and you’ve created the perfect conditions for it to thrive, she says.

As for why this winter’s flu season seems especially bad, Dr. Marr believes it is because of the particular strain of the virus, H3N2, which causes “stronger” symptoms, as well as an early start to the season. “There are many, many factors that affect the transmission of influenza,” she says. “Humidity and the survival of the virus in airborne droplets is just one piece of the puzzle.”

What You Can Do

A humidifier might be the best product to keep the flu at bay, Dr. Marr says. “If you can humidify to about 50%, but not above 60% [which can cause mold], you might reduce your chances of getting the flu,” she says. BLOG-HUMIDIFIER

Dr. Marr uses a digital clock that tells temperature and humidity, so she can adjust the moisture in the air accordingly. That way, she says, “if there is a sick person who comes into my home and is coughing and sneezing, and their droplets are floating all over the place, the virus won’t last very long—hopefully.”

Of course, she says, common-sense measures help, too. Get the flu vaccination in the fall, as soon as it is available. Get out of a dry room where someone is coughing and sneezing. Stay home if you’re sick or have children stay home if they are. And consider wearing a good-fitting mask, with no gaps around the nose or mouth, in public.


Help Prevent The Flu By Cleaning

Flu season is in full effect right now, and it is kicking my butt at the present moment. This years strain of the flu seems to be really bad too, so doing whatever you can to prevent you or your loved ones from getting it would be a wise decision. There are many steps you can take to prevent the flu. Steps like; getting a flu shot, thoroughly washing your hands, and avoiding touching your face (which is easier said than done).

Another effective way to prevent the spread of the flu virus is by cleaning your home. Germs are transferred in the home by touching things such as, doorknobs, light switches, remote controls, refrigerator and microwave handles, computer keyboards, etc… By using sanitizing spray, sanitizing wipes, or just a good old fashioned 50-50 mix of vinegar and water spray on these items can reduce the spread of germs in the house.

If you or someone in your home already has the flu, make sure to clean up any tissues or other garbage that may have germs on it immediately. Also, any linens (blankets, pillowcases, etc.) used by the person infected with the flu should be washed separately from other linens / clothes. Children’s lunchboxes and backpacks should also be cleaned out regularly to avoid any germs that may be brought home from school.

Although we’ve all had the flu before, I think we tend to forget just how much it truly stinks. Hopefully these cleaning tips will help you avoid being reminded of how the flu feels. Oh yeah, if you happen to use a public restroom, avoid drying your hands with electric dryers. Apparently those things spread a lot of germs, so use paper towel.

How To Naturally Unclog A Sink

Sinks clog, especially bathroom sinks. A lot of people think that the only way to fix a clogged sink is to use Drano, bleach, or some other product which uses harsh chemicals. The truth is, unclogging your drain can be quite simple. All you need is, a rag (to clog the drain), vinegar, a box of baking soda and a kettle of boiling water. So before you run out to the store to pick up some overpriced chemical solution, check around your house to see if you have these everyday products. BLOG-BAKINGSODAVINEGAR

Follow these simple steps to naturally unclog your sink.

1. Pour about half of the box of baking soda down the drain (do not run water).

2. Have your rag close by.

3. Pour half a cup of vinegar down the drain. (WARNING: The reaction between the two will cause a “mini volcano” of sorts which will come out of the drain).

4. Immediately plug the drain with the rag.

5. Leave the concoction in the drain for about a half an hour. While you’re waiting, start to boil a kettle of water.

6. After the half hour, remove the rag and slowly (and carefully) pour the boiling water down the drain.

After you have done this, the drain should be unclogged. If for some reason the drain still seems to be a bit clogged, you can repeat these steps until it is flowing smoothly.

How Green Cleaning Can Help Your Business

Everyone knows the positive affects green products and green cleaning  can have on the environment and in the home, but can green cleaning actually help improve a business’ bottom line? In this article from Environmental Leader, you are shown three ways that green cleaning can actually help your business financially. I guess it’s just one more reason green cleaning is the wiser choice. Go Green, Save Green! BLOG-DOLLARS

Three Ways Green Cleaning Can Improve Your Bottom Line

Being environmentally responsible is a hot-button issue in the cleaning industry these days. Many facilities managers and commercial cleaning companies feel pressure to make the switch, but aren’t sure how it will affect business or worry that it will end up increasing costs. In actuality, going green can be good for your bottom line in more ways than one.

Below are three examples of how green cleaning strategies can help the bottom line.

1)    Worker Health and Safety

Most industrial cleaning products contain a brew of toxic chemicals that can easily compromise the well being of your employees. Workplace safety is ranked among the top job-related concerns for commercial cleaning workers and for good reason.

According to a review of workers’ compensation from the state of Washington, 6 out of every 100 professional cleaners must take time off from work each year to recuperate from on-the-job injuries. Eighty-eight percent of these injuries involve skin irritation or burns; eye irritation or burns; or chemical inhalation.

Many commonly used chemicals can result in blindness, burn the skin, negatively impact reproductive health, damage the kidneys or liver, and even cause cancer.

Making the switch to less toxic, environmentally sensitive cleaning products isn’t just good for the health of your employees (which should be reason enough); it can also reduce costs in the long run. Green cleaning products have the potential to reduce on-site injuries (and subsequent sick days), decrease workers’ compensation claims and ultimately lower your insurance costs.

2)    Cleaning Products from Concentrate

There are green cleaning products for everything from windows to disinfectants to degreasers. And one of the key advantages of green products is that they are typically sold in concentration (meaning they must be diluted prior to use) with minimal packaging. This can save you money in a number of ways.

  • First, you will save money on raw materials and shipping costs. Essentially, more of the product can be shipped at a time with lower shipping fuel costs.
  • Second, concentrated cleaning products last much longer than their conventional counterparts. This ultimately reduces the frequency in which you will need to re-order supplies from your distributer, further minimizing shipping costs.
  • Finally, because concentrated cleaning goods are produced with minimal packaging, they take up a fraction of the storage space that conventional cleaners do. They are also easier to handle and carry.

3)    Hazardous Chemicals: Protection and Disposal

Most conventional cleaning agents are highly toxic.  As a result, you can’t simply throw these materials into the trash. You must instead follow strict regulations regarding the disposal of hazardous waste.

In addition to the hazardous chemicals and solutions themselves, these products also leave behind a secondary stream of waste that includes rags, absorbent pads, brushes, gloves and others. These secondary products add to the total volume of hazardous waste necessary for disposal. They also dictate a need for additional employee safety training and personal protective gear.

By making the switch to non-toxic cleaning products, you can ultimately reduce hazardous waste disposal costs, decrease money spent on employee safety training (or perhaps allocate it to another facet of training) and minimize the need for personal protection equipment.

Are Biodgradable Cleaners Really “Green” Cleaners?

Many people believe that “biodegradable” cleaners are automatically “green” cleaners. While this may often be true, there are exceptions to the rule. In this article from The Cleanest Image, you are given an example of where this is not always the case. The article focuses on a personal experience with one particular biodegradable cleaner which certainly does not appear to fall in line with what I think to be “green”.

Are Biodegradable Cleaners Green Cleaners? Are They Safe?


Biodegradable Cleaners can be green but with caution

Biodegradable Green Cleaning Chemicals

Biodegradable is, by definition, made of substances that will decay relatively quickly as a result of bacteria breaking them down into elements such as carbon that are naturally recycled. Leaving little impact on the environment as a result.

The claim “biodegradable” is being associated with environmentally friendly, or green cleaning products. In many cases they can be synonymous, but there are a lot exceptions. Many things that are biodegradable and natural and plant based and earth friendly and “green” are not friendly to our own personal environments. In the world of cleaning and green cleaning, several come to mind.

d’Limonene is one of the first I think of. Back when I first started cleaning, we had a product that we called Sewer Sweet. It may have actually been called that but I never knew for sure because the label was always eaten off by the product. It had a very strong orange smell and was really greasy when you got it on your hands. (We rarely used gloves of any kind back then unless it was cold.) It would cause our skin to tingle and if it was spilled on the ground, it would be slippery and was extremely difficult to wash away.  It would be poured from a 5 gallon metal container into a drinking cup to then be carried to a stinky storm or floor drain. If we made it to the drain before the cup dissolved, it would then be poured down the drain, giving the area a fragrance of orange for a few hours until the foul odors returned. I know now it was a completely natural product called d’Limonene, which is oil that is extracted from the peal of citrus fruit.

Although  d’Limonene is a solvent that is much safer than most other chemical solvents and is much less toxic than compounds like mineral spirits but is classified as a skin irritant. It is biodegradable, but due to its low flash point, it must be treated as hazardous waste for disposal. It is also currently regulated by the E.P.A. as a VOC.  d’Limonene is an environmentally preferable product (EPP) when used as is or as part of an EPP formulation but has many precautions to follow when using it.

Using d-limonene can cause polymers to swell. Many plastic materials can be damaged by its use. This includes equipment seals made of rubber or Neoprene, which are the materials used in many types of cleaning equipment and tools. It can also damage many surfaces that are plastic based or polymer coated. (ie: floor finish, sealed stone and poly based fabrics)

It is suggested that when working with d-limonene, solvent-resistant gloves should be worn as well as eye protection. It will deplete the natural oils in your skin and will irritate your skin and can cause sever damage to your eyes if not flushed immediately.

There is no question that biodegradable cleaners in general are a better choice and with the evolution of technology, there are very effective products available that can give you good cleaning results. Be cautious though. Be sure to read the label and material safety data sheet before using any chemical product. Don’t let a biodegradable claim be your only factor when selecting products. Safety first. Results second. And if those two check out, then the product will almost always comply with green cleaning standards.

How The Greenest Cities Handle Their Trash

No matter what city you live in or how “green” the city’s policies may be, there is still going to be trash. How the trash is handled however may be completely different, especially if you do happen to live in one of the greenest cities in the world. In this article from GOOD, you learn how some of these cities handle their trash problem a little differently.

The greenest city in the world, depending on who you ask, might be San Francisco, California, or Curitiba, Brazil, or Copenhagen, Denmark, or Vancouver, Canada. These cities and others like themhave freed their citizens from car-dependency, switched to clean energy, and made room for green spaces that let everyone breath a little freer. But one key function they’ve also worked hard on? How to deal with their trash.

It’s convenient to think of the trash can as a black hole into which scraps and discards and mistakes disappear. But these cities know better. Producing more trash means wasting more money and using up more resources that could be put to better use. Here are a few lessons from some of the greenest cities in the world on taking out the trash.

Waste has worth. Before tossing that piece of trash, consider: Is it really so useless that it needs to be thrown out? The smartest cities have realized that much of what’s considered waste can actually be a resource. Curitiba, for instance, has a municipal shepherd whose flock takes care of the lawns in its extensive park system. In any other city what would be a pile of grass clippings headed off to a landfill, there becomes food. In places like Singapore and Murcia, Spain, waste gets turned into energy. Curitiba also recognizes the value in keeping the city clean: a municipal program will trade a bag of food for a bag of trash, which helps manage waste in lower-income neighborhoods. (Mexico City just started a similar initiative.)

Use less. To avoid dealing with trash, don’t create as much to begin with. When Singapore decided to start improving its waste situation, the city worked with packaging companies to minimize the amount of waste its citizens would need to dispose of.

Make rules. San Francisco leads the country in “landfill avoidance”—it sends only about a quarter of the waste it creates to the dump. The city managed this incredible feat by setting goals and the laying down rules to ensure that they were met. In 2002, the city’s Board of Supervisors decided that by the decade’s end 75 percent of all waste would be diverted from the landfill. But in 2009, although more waste than ever was being recycled and composted, it didn’t look like San Francisco would make its goal. So the city enacted a simple rule: Every property in the city needed to separate its waste into trash, recyclables and compostables. The city still didn’t quite meet the goal, but with an unheard of 72 percent rate of waste diversion, it’s hard to criticize the effort.

These concepts can apply not only to cities, but to individual households. Those vegetable scraps you usually throw away can be used to make stock. Investing in a growler means that beer bottles won’t pile up in the recycling. And just like San Francisco, anyone can make it a house rule to separate waste into three streams.