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Clean Sweep: History of cleaning

Part three of four

by Michael Pinto

To help turn some of the big picture information from the last few “Clean Sweep” articles into practical steps, here are some suggestions from an entire career in the safety and health arena.

Building and homeowners
1. Change furnace filters on a monthly basis. Move up to pleated filters instead of low resistance fiberglass filters.
2. Use a HEPA-filtered vacuum cleaner instead of a broom.
3. Never mix chemicals to create a more effective cleaning product.
4. Do not use an air filtration or odor removal device that produces ozone.
5. Have carpets professionally cleaned every year.
6. Have upholstered furniture professionally cleaned every five years.
7. Have your ducts professionally cleaned every decade—more frequently if the home experiences a fire or other form of contamination.
8. Build with materials that do not support fungal growth, such as metal studs, fiberglass faced gypsum board, fiberglass ceiling tiles and fungal inhibiting paint.
9. Treat every flooding instance as if it were a fire. Respond quickly.

Cleaning/custodial companies
1. Adopt a system of cleaning based on types of hazards rather than specific areas of a building. For example, cleaning tools such as mops should not be used in bathrooms and then in a kitchen.
2. Take advantage of the universal color code that has been adopted for cleaning equipment and supplies to pre- vent cross contamination:

  • Red for high risk places like toilets and bathroom floors,
  • Yellow for specialty labs, general restrooms, locker rooms,
  • Green for kitchen and food service,
  • Blue for general areas such as halls, offices, guest rooms and classrooms.

3. Switch to microfiber mops rather than string or sponge mops to save money, labor and the amount of cleaning chemicals needed.

4. Use disposable or washable cloths. Change cleaning cloths and flat mops after each restroom cleaning.
5. Substitute new microfiber wiping cloths for feather or lamb dusters.
6. Select green cleaning products certified by independent, third-party certifiers such as EcoLogo and Green Seal.
7. Provide detailed training for all cleaning personnel plus ffective supervision. The best equipment, chemicals and systems are useless if applied incorrectly.
8. Follow label directions for chemical use. For biocides, the EPA information on the label supersedes the OSHA information on the MSDS.

Restoration and remediation contractors

1. Isolate any visible fungal contamination during water loss or other restoration projects.
2. Do not utilize air moving equipment such as fans or dryers in identified or suspected fungal areas.
3. Do not use bleach to address fungal or bacterial issues.

4. Set up isolation barriers and HEPA-filtered negative pressure engineering controls for fungal or bacterial contamination projects. Remember, you are a professional, not a do-it-yourself weekend warrior.
5. Keep cleaning equipment in top-notch condition.
6. Clean surfaces using the HEPA sandwich approach— HEPA vacuum, wet clean or damp wipe, finish with a second HEPA vacuuming after the surface is dry.