The Environmental Working Group has been teasing us for about six months about their new Guide to Healthy Cleaning. EWG scientists have examined in the laboratory and rated for safety over 2000 household cleaning products, from laundry detergent to bathroom cleaner to air freshener. And, yes, some of these include the professional products used by the elite cleaning companies around the country.
So how does this new guide and database add value to the professional cleaning industry?
VALIDATION: Many in the cleaning industry have been citing medical and chemical studies that suggest the effect of cleaning products on the increased frequency and severity of many mutagenic diseases such as cancer and reproductive disabilities.
CONSUMER AWARENESS: The more a consumer feels he/she has control over purchasing and lifestyle decisions, the better decisions that consumer can make. One of those “better” decisions is to trust and employ the cleaning company who’s been saying this all along!
CHEMICAL FREE CLEANING: We’ve been advancing the study of safety and efficacy of many cleaning products and equipment toward the development of Chemical Free Cleaning…where no one would need a database like this because the only ingredient is tap water!
REFERENCES: When you search for a specific product or product line, not only do you get EWG’s safety ratings; you’ll also see a list of the ingredients and the various regulatory and/or scientific sources that list their effect on humans. These range from surface irritation to reproductive interruptions to known cancer effects.
CAVEAT: Just because the data revealed through the guide came largely from the science laboratory doesn’t mean that the recommendations come from cleaning professionals. We’ve already spotted a few recommendations that do more to advance home cleaning myths than scientifically validated cleaning or disinfecting methodologies. Here are two reminders just about vinegar…or maybe some new information for those who haven’t yet taken the IICRC House Cleaning Technician Certification class:
Vinegar doesn’t clean or disinfect: vinegar’s use in the cleaning procedure was born of the need to rinse clean the residue left from an alkaline cleaning solution, which is more commonly needed than an acidic cleanser. Vinegar’s acidity neutralized and rinsed clean the residue, leaving a nice, clear shine. Thus was born the legend of the vinegar cleaner.
Vinegar as a disinfectant is based on scientific supposition, not any actual disinfection studies; to be a preservative, vinegar must have some positive effect on keeping bacteria at bay, but as yet, no studies have shown that it actually sanitizes or disinfects to the level of making your counter safe from chicken juice bacteria.