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Monday, October 20, 2014

Question

I work for a food manufacturer. I want to recommend a good green product that can be used to mop the painted floors in a freeze dried fruit packaging facility. They currently use cotton mops and orange oil cleaner with a little bleach. Do you have advice on the proper mopping methods here? What green product is good for hand washing? I also wondered how often the mop heads should be replaced?


Answer

Answer:
Finding environmentally safe and effective products should not be a chore. Most manufacturers of cleaning chemicals have formulated “green” compounds to clean and disinfect various types of surfaces. Ask your local jan-san supply house. Online, Green Seal also provides a listing of their approved products from various sources at www.greenseal.org/findaproduct/index.cfm.
Bleach would not be my first choice for disinfecting the floors. There are better products such as quaternary ammonium-based solutions and some green disinfectants. The citrus-based cleaner will be effective for degreasing if that is what is needed on the floors, but most such products require careful rinsing to remove slippery residue.
The effectiveness of antibacterial hand washing compounds is still being debated. Hand washing (basic personal hygiene) with soap and warm water is in itself a “green” practice in the sense that, by reducing harmful microorganisms on the hands, it improves the indoor environment. Green Seal also lists certified green hand soaps. While it could be argued that heating the water is not a “green” practice since it uses energy, sometimes the reward, in this case the reduced danger of cross-infection in a food processing facility, is worth the sacrifice.
Mop heads spend their working lives in a hot water detergent solution intended to clean them so that they may, in turn, clean the floor surface. Eventually, they will wear and start to “string” if you are using a standard mop head. Flat mops are durable and will wear a long time since there are no long strands to weaken and break free.
In both cases, the key to longevity is keeping the head or pad clean. Bleaching is unnecessary and will weaken the fibers over time. In other words, replace old, worn mop heads or pads, not dirty ones. If they are dirty, someone is not using them correctly.
Lynn E. Krafft, Associate Editor for ICAN/ATEX
lekrafft@juno.com