Emerging Technology Offers Better & Safer Cleaning; Improved Sustainability

By Sue Minichiello

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Flu and cold season is in full swing and, with it, added concern for the health of building occupants. In workplaces, schools, hospitals and other facilities, countless surfaces pose potential risks for these and other viruses, such as Norovirus and Bird Flu, as well as food borne illnesses.

AffinEco is committed to exploring and sharing information about emerging and sustainable technologies that can make a real difference — going beyond basic cleanliness to achieve actual sanitization without the additional threat of chemical toxicity. Enter “dry” vapor steam cleaning.

Featured at the ISSA convention in Las Vegas in October, dry vapor steam cleaning offers a non-chemical, non-toxic alternative for cleaning, sanitizing and deodorizing virtually any surface economically and effectively. These cleaning systems generate a high-heat, low-moisture vapor that thoroughly removes contaminants without damaging surfaces and enable disinfection with none of the harmful side effects associated with chemical cleaning methods.

One company has taken the concept further by adding a scientifically proven process that makes dry the technology even more effective. Created and patented by Advanced Vapor Technologies (AVT), TANCS (Thermal Accelerated Nano Crystal Sanitation) helps nano crystals form within tap water. When that water is transformed into high-heat, low-moisture vapor, the crystals accelerate to disrupt the cell membranes of germs on the surface to be cleaned, making them more sensitive to the vapor. Systems equipped with TANCS are the only ones that qualify as disinfectant devices by the EPA.

The basic technology is referred to as “dry” vapor steam because so little water is used and left behind. Unlike other so-called steam cleaners, vapor systems can safely produce thousands of gallons of dry steam using only about 1.5 quarts of water per hour. This not only conserves water, but also saves time because carpets, floors and other surfaces dry within minutes. The quiet and portable technology is mess-free with temperatures hot enough to kill bacteria, germs, mold and mildew; remove prior chemical residue; and emulsify grease and oil.

According to Ken Hatem, President of Vapor Clean, Inc., the systems can be used for daily cleaning, but are typically used for “project” work. For example, a cleaning services company will purchase a system to be shared among multiple buildings or facilities and use the system to perform detail cleaning in between daily routines.

In office buildings, one of the main applications is cleaning restrooms, which are breeding grounds for unsanitary conditions. “Bathrooms generate 90 percent of occupant complaints about cleanliness,” Hatem said. “Dry vapor steam technology is ideal because it opens the pores of tile and grout to flush out dirt and kill contaminants, getting surfaces much cleaner than traditional daily cleaning methods.” Hatem added that intermittent use of vapor steam technology is advantageous, because “Starting with a cleaner surface makes it easier to keep that surface clean and keep bacteria down.”

Other typical office building applications include stripping floors in preparation for refinishing, and tackling difficult carpet issues. The vapor steam systems allow for getting into corners and areas of trim, which traditional floor strippers cannot do. When it comes to carpeting, Hatem said, “The devil is in the details, and regular carpet extractors often can’t clean high traffic areas and tough stains. The vapor steam system can effectively pre-treat such areas.”

Dry vapor steam systems can also be used to clean walls, ceilings, kitchens or break rooms — even inside refrigerators and microwaves. With a range of available attachments, the systems can get into the tightest of corners and crevices. Plus, their use contributes to better indoor air quality. And they can go beyond cleaning and sanitation to defrost freezers, thaw frozen pipes, dust live plants and more.

“With its ability to deep clean and sanitize without chemicals, plus its low-water, low-electricity usage, dry vapor steam is a technology we are seriously considering,” said AffinEco Managing Partner Michael Diamond. “Any system that can advance cleaning, safety and sustainability while protecting and even improving the health of our customer’s workers is well worth our investigation and investment.”

(image courtesy of advap.com)