Ask Steve: Green Cleaning with Ionators

December 13, 2011

Today, we are happy to highlight a question from the “Ask Steve” feature in HSC's Green Clean Schools initiative.

Steve_ashkinStephen P. Ashkin is president of The Ashkin Group, a consulting firm specializing in greening the cleaning industry, and executive director of the Green Cleaning Network. He is well known throughout the professional cleaning, education, healthcare, and building-management industries as the “Father of Green Cleaning.” Steve has played a pivotal role in setting industry standards, promoting environmentally preferable products, and advocating for socially responsible practices. He is also the author of HSC's Quick & Easy Guide to Green Cleaning in Schools!

Steve reached in the HSC mailbag to answer a reader question about green cleaning. Thanks to Steve for answering great questions from green cleaning advocates like you! 

Question: I have recently become aware of ionators or technology that would allow us to simply use water in ionized state to clean some surfaces. What can you tell me about this technology and how I can choose the correct products for our schools?

~ Sherdrich, Clarksville, IL

Answer: Great question! While it is exciting to see the emergence of greener technologies, it is important to make sure that products work both in terms of cleaning efficacy, within your cleaning system, and are cost effective.

So to begin, ask the supplier for independent test data proving that the product works — and I specifically suggest that the testing be done at an independent or third-party laboratory as opposed to their own internal testing. It is also important to determine the cleaning applications for which the device can be used. For example, some devices are only good for light cleaning and sanitizing, which may require you to continue to purchase chemicals for heavier soils and other applications. Making this determination will affect the ultimate return on investment if it will only replace a portion of your current chemical products.

From a practical standpoint, make sure you know how long the devices work. For example, if the device only dispenses a quart or the batteries only last for four hours and you need the device to dispense a half-gallon on an eight-hour shift, then you will need multiple ones for each custodian. Thus it is important to determine if each of your custodians will need one? Or can they share one or multiple devices? This is important because it will affect how many you need and the ultimate cost. And finally, ask about warranty issues. If it takes three years for you to recoup your investment and the device only lasts for two years, you may have a problem.

Finally, I would encourage you to test the products. Get your custodians involved in the decision as this will go a long way to getting their buy-in if the devices are right for you.

Thanks for sharing your question, Sherdrich!

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Plus! Read more green cleaning questions and answers in the Ask Steve archive at greencleanschools.orgBe sure to stay up to date with green cleaning news on HSC's blog.