Next-Gen Professional Cleaning Calls for Sustainable, Easy-to-Use Products

ISSA, the trade association representing the I&I cleaning category, celebrates its 100th anniversary.

ISSA Executive Director John Barrett addresses the audience at “Then, Now, Forever: Celebrating 100 Years of ISSA.”
“You are doing something that really truly matters in the world,” ISSA Executive Director John Barrett told an audience assembled last month for “Then, Now, Forever: Celebrating 100 Years of ISSA”—a special event held just before the doors opened on the 2023 ISSA Show North America Las Vegas.

ISSA—the worldwide cleaning industry association—has come a long way since 1923, when its predecessor, the National Sanitary Supply Association, was formed with seven founding members. A century ago, just a handful of manufacturers were part of the membership of the fledging organization.

Today, ISSA has about 1,000 manufacturer members, whom Barrett called the “heart and soul of this convention.”

They fuel the industry as well.

Inside the ISSA North America show, which this year was held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, were manufacturers of disinfectants, floor cleaners, hand soaps, dish detergents and air care products, as well as makers of tools and devices to dispense, wash, scrub and dispose. All told, ISSA has more than 10,500 members spanning distributors, manufacturers and manufacturer reps, building service contractors (BSCs), in-house service providers, residential cleaners and associated services.

It is an ecosystem that insures consumers’ most favorite and important spaces are clean. And that, in turn, protects the health and wellness of everyone—whether a football stadium filled with Swifties, a local school packed with students and teachers, or a corporate office seeing a steady stream of workers back at their desks and inside conference rooms.

Solution Seeking for Cleaning

Leading cleaning solution manufacturers not only formulate in the lab—they’re tracking flu season, collaborating with microbiologists, digging into societal needs to deliver improved hygiene for more people and sourcing more sustainable solutions. And if that’s not enough, they provide training programs to help their busy customers who remain under great pressure from labor shortages.

The pressure cooker atmosphere of the pandemic has subsided, but cleaning professionals are still under the gun. Many are burned out, according to recent polling from CloroxPro. In the CloroxPro’s 2023 Clean Index report—which reflects the current challenges and perceptions of more than 1,700 cleaning professional—nearly nine out of ten (87%) cleaning professionals personally experienced burnout in the past two years.

This troubling stat comes as consumer confidence in the cleanliness of public spaces increased 23% during the past year. According to Clorox, 59% consumers are confident in the professional cleaning industry’s ability to aid in preventing the spread of illness-causing germs, up from 48% in 2022. That confidence stems from important visual and sensory cues that make consumers feel safe—think a clean, pleasant smell, seeing janitors and staff cleaning, shiny floors or bright and clean walls/surfaces and public availability of disinfectant wipes.

Despite this, Clorox Pro data revealed cleaning professionals feel less confident year-over-year in their ability to prevent the spread of illness-causing germs. In fact, cleaning professionals’ confidence fell nearly 5% compared to last year, with the largest confidence drop among building-service contractors ( down 15% vs. 2022). The primary drivers of declining confidence were cited as a lack of training programs (22%, up 9% vs. 2022) and more public scrutiny of cleaning practices (20%, up 6% vs. 2022).

According to CloroxPro, the data reinforces how much responsibility is placed on cleaning professionals and the need to ensure they have the tools and support to create clean and healthy public spaces.

For CloroxPro, that can mean delivering ready-to-use (RTU) cleaning and disinfecting products like Clorox EcoClean, which includes EcoClean Disinfecting Cleaner, which is made with a plant-based active ingredient that kills 99.9% of illness-causing germs in two minutes or less when used as directed. This product garnered The Clorox Company an Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) 2023 Green Chemistry Award in the “Designing Greener Chemicals” category. The EcoClean product range also includes all-purpose cleaner and glass cleaner.

According to CloroxPro, 82% of cleaning professional cite killing germs as the most important quality for eco-friendly cleaners. Jordan Bastian, senior infection preventionist at The Clorox Company, says EcoClean offers facilities managers and professional cleaning staff numerous benefits—from efficacy and versatility to reduced effort and time saved.

Similar sentiments were echoed across the show floor at ISSA last month. Collectively, the I&I cleaning space is constantly pushing its resources toward solving key pain points for cleaning professionals.

Ecolab Rapid Multi Surface Disinfectant Cleaner has both hard and soft surface claims.
Take Ecolab’s entry in the 2023 ISSA Innovation Award competition: Ecolab Rapid Multi Surface Disinfectant Cleaner. With both hard and soft surface claims, this “4-in-1” solution is versatile; it can be a hospital disinfectant, a streak-free glass cleaner in the office, a bactericide for high-touch counters, and even sprayed on upholstered chairs in the hotel lobby, according to officials. What’s more, it can be applied with spray bottles, mop, microfiber pad, bucket, auto scrubber and electrostatic sprayer.

“Cleaning staff deserve a solution that works in the way they do today,” said Amanda Bakken, an Ecolab chemist who presented the Rapid Multi Surface Disinfectant Cleaner on the ISSA show floor. “It is a disinfectant that goes where you go.”

Improved efficiency in cleaning is increasingly being driven by technology, too. While consumers are familiar with touch-free units that provide squirts of soap or roll out a paper towel on demand, IoT and connected dispensers provide tangible benefits for cleaning service professionals and facilities managers.

“They are contending with labor shortages and they are interested in having smart dispensers that help their skeleton staff be more efficient by sending a ping or notification to janitor/manager’s iPhone or tablet. This way, they can spend less time checking dispensers that are full or half-full and focus on the ones that are empty,” said Laura Mahecha, director of industrial and institutional cleaning practice at Kline & Company. 

Tork Vision Cleaning uses real-time data from connected dispensers and people counters to help facility managers and cleaning staff know when and where cleaning and dispenser refilling are needed. According to Tork, this relates to a 91% reduction in dispenser checks. And as sensors track movement, a cleaning manager knows when a conference room sits unused, and therefore doesn’t require immediate attention.

According to Kline’s Industrial & Institutional Hand Care report, 34.3% of respondents in a survey conducted this summer said they used smart (IoT) dispensers at their facility or customer’s facility, and 40.4% said they did not, but planned to install them. The remainder said they did not and did not plan to install. The survey encompassed 508 respondents across building service contractors, healthcare, foodservice, education, retailers, industry, lodging and sport/fitness.

Newer dispensers are also more sustainable.

As of October, 11 existing Tork brand dispensers in the US (and 15 in Canada) are carbon neutral. Tork says it is one of the first in its class in North America to have reduced and offset carbon for the entire lifecycle of selected soap, toilet paper and hand towel dispensers. Carbon emissions have already been reduced by using purchased renewable electricity in the production, and the remaining carbon emissions are offset with verified credits from climate projects, according to the brand, which is part of Essity.

SC Johnson Professional’s Proline Wave Dispenser is a one-liter dispenser made with 70% Recovered Coastal Plastic (plastic that is collected on land within 31 miles of an ocean, in countries with high volumes of uncollected plastic waste).  The dispenser’s recovered plastic materials are sourced through SCJ’s partnership with Plastic Bank. Each dispenser uses the equivalent of 16 16.9 fl.oz. recovered coastal plastic waste plastic bottles.

Proline Wave is compatible with SC Johnson Professional’s full line of Refresh Foam soaps, which use 30% less product and can reduce average water consumption as much as 45% when washing and rinsing hands compared to traditional lotion soap, said the company. Independent tests show that washing hands with foam soap rather than lotion soap can reduce average water consumption by as much as 45% when using a modified hand wash approach of dispensing soap on dry hands and turning the tap on only when rinsing off.

Foaming soap is at the heart of Soap2o Ltd, a company that exhibited at the ISSA Show for the first time to tout its Super Hydro Pod. According to officials, its point of differentiation is its increased sustainability profile and ease of use. One pod creates one gallon of foaming soap when dropped into a gallon container with water and agitated by hand for about a minute. The company plans to expand beyond hand soap, offering shampoos and other personal care products in 2024.

More sustainable solutions are being sought by endusers of I&I products, including the hospitality sector, which is pursuing green practices due to both new regulations and customer expectations.

“We are starting to see increased usage of amenities dispenser in  hotel rooms across the country,” said Mahecha of Kline.

According to Kline’s Janitorial and Housekeeping Cleaning Products USA study, more than 20 states have laws banning single use plastics (SUPs), but the initiative has taken hold on a more widespread nature due to the cost savings afforded hotel operators by using bulk products in dispensers rather than small bottles.

More Solutions for I&I Issues

Across the ISSA show floor in Las Vegas, there were solutions for all types of I&I settings.

In addition to offering a sneak peek of its new laundry lineup due out next spring (Tide Professional commercial laundry detergent in pods, liquid and powder and Downy Professional commercial fabric softener), P&G Professional showcased new Dawn Professional Heavy Duty Manual Pot and Pan detergent. The proprietary formula, made with Dawn Professional’s highest level of proprietary grease-cutting surfactant, contains three times more baked-on grease cleaning power to help dishwashers spend less time and energy on greasy cookware and can reduce scrubbing by 50% from active ingredients that do more of the work.

“With the time and effort they spend on cleaning greasy pots and pans and other kitchen tools, back-of-house kitchen staff have some of the hardest jobs in a restaurant but rarely are celebrated by customers. Restaurant owners want a detergent that saves time and makes the lives of their dishwashers easier,” said Paul Edmondson, vice president of P&G North America, in a statement.

Lysol Pro & BlueDot Forecast Concurrent Rise in Flu, RSV & Covid-19
Predictive analysis conducted for Reckitt’s Lysol Pro Solutions by data experts at BlueDot Inc. suggests that US businesses should anticipate a concurrent rise in flu, RSV, and covid-19 this year, but that the onset of respiratory virus season will be closer to typical pre- pandemic timing than last year. 

“With flu and RSV expected to hit the US at a similar time, businesses should deploy effective germ reduction strategies to help address the spread through both surfaces and air,” said Dr. Julie McKinney, director of R&D at Reckitt’s Lysol Pro Solutions. “The season has historically shaved off productivity from businesses due to worker and school absenteeism. Early indicators suggest that this year is likely to mirror pre-pandemic trends compared to last year, which was highly unpredictable.”

According to McKinney, holistic hand and surface hygiene, including the use of EPA-approved products such as Lysol Disinfectant Spray or Lysol Disinfecting Wipes, as well as a focus on “effective cleaning measures on germ-harboring hot spots can help reduce the spread of germs, and support a more productive workforce.”

Last year, the flu season began, on average, seven weeks earlier than pre-pandemic trends. This year, signs from the southern hemisphere suggest that the flu season is trending toward pre-pandemic patterns, according to Lysol. 

Like dirty pots and pans, ants are another thing customers don’t want to see when dining out.

To that end, Henkel this year showcased its Combat brand, which provides roach and ant killing solutions for professional kitchens as well as commercial and manufacturing settings, offices and more. The newest product in the range is Combat 2-in-1 Ant Bait, billed as the first 2-in-1 in the US market, according to James Lothrop, a Combat brand manager.

Ants, according to Henkel officials Happi spoke with at ISSA, are historically picky eaters, but Combat’s 2-in-1 solution is designed to kill 11 kinds of ants by way of two baits: one grease-based, the other sugar-based (officials at the show likened it to a “buffet”). Ants take the bait back to the colony, eliminating insects at the source.

O3 Technologies Inc., Los Angeles, showcased its OxiTerminator Mattress Sanitizer, a system that allows hotel workers to clean and disinfect mattresses in less than 30 minutes. It would offer an alternative to the cumbersome process of removing a mattress from a room and taking it to a disinfection truck, according to Andy Rifkin, founder and chief technology officer.

According to Rifkin, O3’s work centers on the use of activated oxygen, or O3 (hence, its name). First, the mattresses are placed into a sealed, leakproof bag. Then, activated oxygen is pumped in, “pulled through” the layers of material at “safe, therapeutic levels,” and subjected to UVC light and a series of catalysts. The process is said to kill covid and other disease-causing pathogens, as well as mold, parasites, bed bugs, fleas and mites.
The mattresses need to be vacuumed after the process, according to the company.

O3 Technologies also developed a commercial sonic mop adapter that can be attached to existing commercial mops as well as Swiffer-style tools. The OxiTerminator Mattress Sanitizer is set to launch at the end of Q1 2024 with the mop adapter following in Q2 2024.

Formulation Science

NPD continues around use of natural components in disinfectant technologies. According to Kline, 38% of end users view green cleaning products to be as effective as traditional cleaning chemicals. Demand is increasing for products with active ingredients that are plant-based or botanical, such as lavender, citric acid and thymol, notes Kline.

Last month, Diversey signed a multi-year licensing accord with Virox Technologies to bring its patented disinfectant technology known as Citr-IQ, to the healthcare sector and other segments. Diversey will add multiple disinfectant products, powered by Virox’s Citr-IQ, to its lineup of professional offerings. 

Citr-IQ is a synergistic blend that effectively kills pathogens by harnessing the natural disinfectant power of citric acid. Citr-IQ maintains the balance of efficacy and safety that Virox antimicrobial technologies are known for while advancing performance in sustainability and material compatibility, according to Diversey. Citr-IQ’s synergistic chemistry is said to be powerful enough to eliminate pathogens of concern, including SARS-CoV2, ESBLs, norovirus and Candida auris. Additionally, it is the first citric-acid-based tuberculocidal disinfectant with a one-minute contact time and the first one-minute tuberculocidal disinfectant compatible with fully biodegradable wipes. It is safe for multiple surfaces and devices, including plastics and soft metals.

Under the terms of the agreement, Virox will receive undisclosed license fees and royalties for the use of the formulas covered under the Citr-IQ platform. It will manufacture products containing the Citr-IQ formulas for Diversey’s North American markets.

This new accord lengthens a 24-year-long partnership; Diversey had previously licensed accelerated hydrogen peroxide (AHP) chemical disinfectant technology from Virox, which Diversey fully acquired in 2019. AHP is the active ingredient in multiple brands, including Diversey’s Oxivir and Accel infection prevention platforms.

Indie brands are also developing safer solutions for I&I cleaning. Dear Planet Labs, Placentia, CA exhibited at ISSA for the first time. Its Everyday Disinfectant Spray contains just three ingredients: hypochlorous acid (HOCI), water and salt. The limited-ingredient spray eliminates 99.9% of bacteria and viruses, including covid-19, in 60 seconds. It is EPA List-N and List-Q approved and offers an alternative to traditional disinfectant sprays formulated with quats, said officials.

Safer, smarter and more sustainable solutions are the future of I&I cleaning. 

Save The Date: HCPA’s 2024 New Horizons Is October 1-3 in Asheville, NC
The Household and Commercial Products Association (HCPA) New Horizons conference will be held Oct. 1-3, 2024 at the Grand Bohemian Hotel Asheville in Asheville, NC. Hosted every three years by HCPA’s Cleaning Products Division, experts from industry and academia come together to engage in workshops that explore the future of product formulation.

HCPA’s Annual Meeting is this month (Dec 3-6) in Fort Lauderdale. The keynote speaker is quarterback Joe Theismann.


Cleaning, Curated
The I&I cleaning category has a long history in innovative technologies that keep surfaces sparkling, stop the spread of germs and keep bacteria at bay—and there’s a place  that pays homage to it all: the Museum of Clean. Attendees at the ISSA Show were able to get a taste of what’s inside the 74,000 sq.ft. facility in Pocatello, ID through a display on the show floor in Las Vegas last month.

The museum was opened in 2011 by Don Aslett, an industry icon with his own storied history in the cleaning industry.

Whirlpool’s In-School Laundry Program Helps Combat Chronic Absenteeism
Whirlpool is embarking on its eighth—and biggest—year of the Care Counts Laundry Program, which provides access to washers and dryers in schools primarily located in underserved communities. The idea is to help remove a small but important barrier to attendance: access to clean clothes.

For the 2023-2024 academic year, the program has expanded to 154 schools across 40 states, including new schools in Connecticut, Michigan, Montana, North Carolina and Oregon.

Whirlpool began installing washers and dryers in schools in 2015. The program now provides an estimated 50,000 students with clean clothes. Based on findings from the 2022-2023 academic year, nearly 80% of participating high-risk elementary school students where the program is active saw an increase in student attendance.

By 2028, Whirlpool expects to expand the Care Counts Laundry Program to all 50 states. 

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