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Cleaning in the USA

ISSA/INTERCLEAN 2008 – One Great Show
The exhibitors I spoke to rated the traffic on the show floor as steady and qualified. There were a wide variety of seminars, presentations and events for everyone to attend. This year’s show in Orlando, Fl October 23-26 will be tough to beat in 2008.

The overwhelming theme this year was green, whether it was chemicals, equipment or processes. Green is hot right now and everyone is jumping on the bandwagon. I think you’ll see this trend continue, but mature and evolve over the next five years into more of a theme of sustainability rather than green chemicals and products.

The cleaning industry is desperate for anything new to hang its hat on and green fits the bill nicely, even if in some cases, it’s not much more than a new theme under which to peddle ones existing, but relabeled wares. It’s tough to argue with the idea of saving the earth?

The second major theme was the ISSA’s Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS), which was highlighted basically everywhere you turned. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good program and I fully endorse its use. In fact, having completed the Assessor Certification and conducted an audit of a local contractor, I can honestly say that any company or department that operates according to the guidelines established by CIMS, can’t help but improve customer satisfaction, quality levels and profitability.

I attended a number of seminars and found them to be quality presentations with useful information that I can use in my business. It would appear that the only losers this year were those who did not attend the ISSA Show in Orlando.

Let’s review several of the events that I attended.

Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS)
A number of assessors met with ISSA staff to discuss how the CIMS program could be improved. One of the most positive aspects of the CIMS experience thus far has been the ISSA staff’s sincere interest in making the program better by listening to and utilizing input from assessors and others. If this approach continues I see the CIMS program, the ISSA and the cleaning industry as all being winners. This is one program that everyone in the cleaning industry should find out more about. Even if a company doesn’t go for certification, you can download and print out the standard for free and apply as many of the checklist items as you wish. The group discussed setting up a monthly conference call meeting to better facilitate ongoing communications between the CIMS administrators and Assessors.

Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI)
The CIRI Association held its annual meeting and fielded questions from the audience about it projects. A sensitive issue with several in the audience was the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) funded research the CIRI group has undertaken. At issue is the fact that the Science Advisory Council (SAC), which is overseeing the study, is chaired by Dr. Steven Spivak who has close ties to the carpet and rug industry and the council’s failure to involve others from outside the carpet industry in the planning and early stages of the study. “The response was trust us, we are scientists, we plan to involve others after the third phase of the study.” Sorry guys, that won’t fly. You should have known better and involved people from the hard floor side of the industry and experts with practical hands on experience from the beginning. If this group wants to be successful and survive another year, they will have to open their doors and their minds a little more than they have so far.

Other topics that I heard being discussed by members of the audience, after the meeting came to an abrupt end without the opportunity to ask additional questions, were:

  1. What did the industry receive in return for the $233,000 in administration costs that the CIRI board spent last year?
  2. As a non-profit association, will the CIRI group make details of its financial report public?
  3. Why are there no technical experts with practical hands on experience on the science council?
  4. How does one get appointed to the science advisory council?
  5. Why doesn’t CIRI issue a press pass to its events for members of the media?
  6. Why is the membership committee the only committee available to members for involvement in the group?
  7. Attendees at the CIRI Symposium in Las Vegas were told that copies of the video taped presentations would be mailed to all attendees. This did not happen. Now we are told that later this year copies will be available for purchase.

All Industry Networking Lunch
Seven hundred tickets were sold to the luncheon, and it was a packed house. Moderators from the International Custodial Advisory Network (ICAN) lead the table discussions on such topics as industry trends, cost control, staffing shortages, green cleaning and how to deal with health issues such as MRSA and Avian Flu.

Attendees were encouraged to bring a friend to next year’s luncheon. When I left an hour after the meeting started and lunch was served, several tables remained in discussion regarding topics of the day. Next year let’s see if we can break the 1000 attendee mark. Bring a friend.

Product Highlights From the Exhibit Floor

Tennant Ech2o Auto Scrubber
Tennant unveiled what it describes as new technology that electrically activates plain tap water, eliminating the need for chemical detergents while reducing the amount of water used for cleaning by as much as 70%. “Cleaning effectiveness of the new system has proven to be the same or better than when general-purpose cleaners are used,” said Tennant.

According to a Tennant press release, here’s how the system works. “Inside the unit, two primary steps transform normal tap water into a powerful cleaning solution. In the first step, water passes through electrified screens in the oxygenation chamber, creating highly oxygenated micro-bubbles. In the second step, the oxygenated water is sent through a water cell where electrical current is applied. Flowing out of the water cell is highly charged, acidic and alkaline water with all the attributes of a powerful cleaner.

The electrically charged water attacks the dirt, breaks it into smaller particles and suspends it off the floor surface – enabling the scrubber’s pads or brushes to easily remove the soil. Approximately 45 seconds after it was created, the cleaning solution returns to plain water. What is left in the recovery tank is just plain water and soil. In this process, 100% of the water used reverts to neutral tap water and can be handled and disposed of safely.” For more information visit:

DuoClean Integrated Dustmop, Broom and Dustbin
That about says it all, beyond that, the picture tells the story.

Microfiber Burnishing Pad
Americo Manufacturing has introduced micro-fiber burnishing and cleaning pads that generate the higher levels of heat needed to rejuvenate gloss and capture fine soil. It is worth noting that the Americo line of woven floor pads uses 100% recycled plastic soda bottles. For more info visit:

Micro-Fiber Washer
Koblenz Electrica has introduced a portable lightweight washing machine specifically for cleaning micro-fiber pads and cloths. The 22-pound unit works in any location where there is a sink and electrical outlet, allowing cleaning operations to launder micro-fiber mops, dusting cloths and bonnets, onsite in less than 5 minutes.
For more information visit:

Wet Floor Signage Activated by Water
Here’s an innovative product. Alert Guard invisible sign is easily applied to a hard floor surface with a stencil and spray bottle and is only visible when the floor is wet. Alert Guard provides 35% additional slip resistance on wet surfaces. Will not fade like paint, works on new and clean unsealed concrete surfaces. No VOC’s, odors or fumes and dries in 30 minutes or less. Great for entrances and exits, walkways, parking lots, loading docks and other areas where slip and fall hazards develop due to water or moisture on hard floor surfaces. For more information visit:

Riding Dust Mop
If you have a lot of dust mopping to do, here’s a tool that can cut your time in half. The Florintini Dust Rider TX05 uses a 30 to 60 inch dust mop to make short work of long wide hallways often found in schools, stadiums and airports. For more info, visit:

Black Granite and Marble Polishing Powder
Herton Stone Systems offers it’s Prime Grind System, which incorporates black polishing powder to return a shine to, scuffed and lightly scratched black granite or marble floors.
For more info, visit:

Next years ISSA/INTERCLEAN Show is in Las Vegas, NV, September 8 to 11, 2008. Save your money for a good time in Las Vegas. Remember, what you lose in Vegas, stays there.

If you are ready to add a little international travel and flavor to your cleaning education, plan now to attend the ISSA/INTERCLEAN Show in Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 6 to 9, 2008. This is the largest cleaning show in the world, with upwards of 25,000 attendees from all over the world. To liven up the experience a little, rent a houseboat on one of the Amsterdam canals. It costs less than a fancy hotel, is much roomier, and adds a whole new dimension to your stay. For more info: Google: Amsterdam House Boat Rentals.

For more info on future ISSA/INTERCLEAN Shows, visit:

Aqua-Mix Certified Applicator School
In September I spent three days in Corona, CA at the Aqua-Mix School where I learned the finer points of stone and ceramic tile cleaning and sealing. It was a good program in that technical information was presented and then followed up with hands on sessions. I was impressed with the hands-on work site. Aqua-Mix built a work area in to their factory that has upwards of 20 different types of stone, terrazzo and clay tile flooring installed, which allowed the attendees to practice what they had learned on many different types of flooring.

I was also impressed with the quality of the Aqua-Mix line of products. Their Grout Deep Clean did an excellent job of removing soil from tile and grout, Reviver quickly returned a shine to dull marble and limestone, High Gloss sealer built up a bright shine in two coats on slate, and the Stone Deep Clean, was relatively odor free and with in 10 minutes has removed at least 95% of several coat of sealer and finish from rough uneven porcelain tile. Lastly we had an opportunity to use the company’s latest product, Nano-Scrub which is a safe to use abrasive, that will not scratch polished stone, yet is highly effective for spotting, cleaning and stripping. Another interesting product was the epoxy grout colorant, which is available in over 20 colors. For more information or a sample of any of the Aqua-Mix products visit: