Be the expert for your customers about what’s healthy and what’s not for cleaning their facilities.
Recently, the American economy has been improving and many people have been heading back to work. With this return to the office, American workers have received more spending money, more stress…and more exposure to poisonous chemicals and toxins.

Yep, that’s right – countless offices around the country are poorly maintained and/or are cleaned by common cleaning products that government reports and nonprofit studies are linking to reproductive problems, lung issues and multiple forms of cancer. And worst of all, many commercial cleaning companies, office managers, and business owners are choosing to ignore these trends – sweeping them under the rug, so to speak, and putting employees at risk.

So, I have worked with my team at OpenWorks Facility Services to compile a number of scary, yet significant, statistics and reveal seven key “dirty secrets” that all commercial cleaning companies should disclose with clients to make sure they’re working together to cultivate greener, cleaner, safer and healthier places to work.

  1. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, indoor air quality is a top five environmental risk to public health. Employers should know that indoor air contaminants are often linked to cleaning materials and procedures, the use of deodorizers and fragrances, and dust and dirt circulating through the air due to sweeping and vacuuming.   
  2. Toxic chemicals in common cleaners are three times more likely to cause cancer than outdoor air. According to the EPA, 95% of ingredients used to create fragrances include cancer-causing substances like phthalates, formaldehyde and benzene derivatives. Cleaners containing these substances should be removed from any office immediately.
  3. With so many cleaning products out there, it’s alarming to note that 30% of these cleaning products contain ingredients known to cause human health or environmental problems, according to the Green Schools Initiative. It’s important to remember that cleaning products can still be effective when free of phosphates, sulfates, ammonia, bleach, nitrates and synthetic fragrances and dyes. Often, soap and hot water, mixed according to directions, are plenty strong enough to handle standard cleaning issues.
  4. Surprisingly, cleaners are the third most common reason for exposure to poison in adults. Mixing chemicals like bleach and ammonia can cause a toxic gas to form that leads to respiratory distress.  It is often best to leave cleaning projects requiring basic chemicals such as bleach and ammonia to accredited commercial cleaning experts.
  5. 53% of cleaning products contain lung-harming ingredients. The American Lung Association recommends avoiding air fresheners, as well as bleach and ammonia, which can cause asthmatic reactions. Remember: quick fixes are typically dangerous!
  6. In a review of 2000 household cleaners by the Environmental Working Group, only 7% of cleaning products adequately disclosed their list of ingredients. Ingredient labels are not required for cleaning products, and companies do sometimes list them on their websites or packaging, but there is still a lack of full disclosure. Be very careful when purchasing cleaners for the office – avoid them entirely, if possible.
  7. 22% of cleaning products contain chemicals known to cause asthma in otherwise healthy people. The carcinogen formaldehyde is sometimes used as a preservative in cleaning products. It can also form when ozone in the air reacts with citrus or pine oils, affecting breathing and lung function. Again, avoid storing them at the office, if possible!

To be a leader in the cleaning industry, it is our responsibility to act in the best interest of our customers. Cleaning office spaces is just part of our job; it’s also our responsibility to be experts in the industry when it comes to knowing what’s safe, healthy and eco-friendly for the employees working at each office we serve.

Each day, we work hard to help each of our customers work toward building a healthy, eco-friendly working environment so as to keep their employees safe. As commercial cleaning companies, it’s our job to improve the workspaces we clean, not simply maintain them; that’s why we should all take the time to educate our customers and equip them with the knowledge and tips they need to keep their office clean and safe between cleanings.

Eric Roudi is the Founder and CEO of OpenWorks, a Facility Services company, that offers its thousands of customers custom-made cleaning solutions that fit their business. Eric has grown the company to more than 300 locations nationwide.