A Cleaner and Greener BU


Doug Leamen from Creative Products explains the benefits of microfiber products to the FM&P custodial managers.

FM&P has been implementing environmentally friendly cleaning practices including products and procedures for over 15 years. Now, FMP is taking the next step in its green cleaning program by standardizing the use the microfiber cleaning products on campus, unifying the way things are cleaned by all 400 custodians in all 300 buildings on campus. Concerns about environmental impacts, safety, and information provided by vendors about changing technologies were among some of the driving forces behind the launch of green cleaning initiative which not only includes products, but how materials are concentrated, packaged and shipped to reduce carbon emissions. The program has developed over several years by following industry best practices to protect the campus community, reduce waste /cost and meet the cleanliness goals of the University.

The first step the University took was to address the sustainability of the equipment used. For example, switching from a traditional floor stripper to a chemical-free power booster machine allowed the university to eliminate this category of chemicals and reduce the time required to do the job. The next initiative was to reduce chemical usage which was achieved through the installation of cleaning command centers to control usage and minimize waste. These centers use concentrated blocks of cleaning chemicals that are mixed with water to the appropriate concentration for each task. Additionally, the University eliminated 75% of the cleaning chemicals which were once used by favoring Green Seal Certified products, a science-based environmental certification standard.

At this stage in the program, the University is assessing the environmental impact of the materials used in the cleaning process. The Green Microfiber system, made by Creative Products International (CPI), provides a universal cleaning solution that is suitable for all of the various surfaces at an institution as large as Boston University. While BU has been using microfiber products for some time, CPI offers the most comprehensive and effective line of all microfiber manufacturers. Microfiber can be used for both wet and dry cleaning and works on all surfaces so can be used for mopping and dusting, as well as to clean walls, windows, and bathrooms.

Using microfiber products rather than conventional cleaning supplies is also more sustainable because they can be washed and reused hundreds of times. Not only is it more sustainable, but it improves cleaning performance by 65%.

Microfiber is made by putting plastic pellets through an extruder which results in a fiber that is 100 times thinner than a human hair. The fibers are woven together to make a material that is able to pick up dirt or debris from much smaller spaces because the fibers are so fine. This results in a deeper clean on surfaces that have pores that aren’t visible to the naked eye, like porcelain or tile.  Also, since the fibers are partially made of nylon, they attract and trap dirt and dust.

Since it is anti-microbial, microfiber is more sanitary which is especially important for wet applications such as mopping. Traditionally mops have included cotton which easily spreads bacteria. In addition, microfiber can be wrung out until it is almost completely dry, retaining only 5% moisture, so there is less opportunity for bacteria. Unlike traditional wet mopping, microfiber only needs to be damp and picks up 50-60% more dirt than a conventional mop.  Not only does this help stop the spread of bacteria, but it also reduces the amount of water and chemicals needed. Using 4 gallons of mopping solution a microfiber mop can clean 1500-1800 square feet while a conventional mop can clean only 500-700 square feet. This allows for a faster cleaning cycle for staff since they don’t have to stop to refill solution as often. In addition, microfiber mops last about 10 times longer than conventional mops because they can be washed over 200 times.

CPI also offers a color coding system prevents cross contamination.  Red cloths are used for toilets and urinals, yellow for sinks and counters, green for door handles and high touch areas, and blue for glass, mirrors and windows. This system makes is easy for staff to ensure that they don’t contaminate other areas by reusing cloths, thus making cleaning more hygienic.

In addition to rolling out the Green Microfiber system on campus, FM&P is using EvolveO2 for the majority of cleaning on campus.  EvolveO2 is a Green Seal Certified peroxide based cleaner that is plant based and biodegradable.  The product, which can be used for 95% of general cleaning, can be diluted into either a light or heavy duty cleaner depending on the situation. The product will not bother people with respiratory ailments, has low VOCs and a neutral pH so is very safe for use all across campus.  BU was the first institution to utilize EvolveO2 for daily cleaning in the Northeast.  This product is now being used by many major schools and institutions nationally.

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