A Big Green Cleaning Company technician applying a sanitizing solution
A Big Green Cleaning Company technician applying a sanitizing solution with an atomizing sprayer. (Big Green photo)

Helping stop the spread of any virus is both an individual and community effort.

Commercial Cleaning Contractors such as Big Green Cleaning Company have been inundated with requests for additional sanitizing services.

Big Green Cleaning Company provides janitorial services for more than 900 local businesses. Almost 100% of our customers have expressed concerns over the COVID-19 virus, and want to make sure that we are doing all we can to help protect their employees and customers.

We are explaining and expanded our processes while discussing how “green” do we stay on the “green continuum?”

Penicillin, chemo drugs and radiation are not green chemicals, but there is both a time and place for their use, as well as dangers associated with using them inappropriately.

The same can be said for disinfecting chemicals used for cleaning.

We are happy that we have those tools in our toolbox, we just need to be smart about where and when they need to be used. 

Any chemical that claims to kill any virus or bacteria is by definition not a “green” chemical. Thus, anything that claims to kill COVID-19 is not “green.”

There are green techniques like covering your mouth when you sneeze or washing your hands, but they will not eliminate the virus.

We have two chemical plans of attack for sanitizing, as well as two different application techniques. Either of the chemical products can be applied by hand wiping or spraying using atomizing electric sprayers.

Our first and most traditional method is to use a hospital grade quaternary disinfectant cleaner. The one we prefer is a blend of four variations of ammonium chloride. It has been approved for use in the hospitals and clinics that we clean.

A Big Green technician sanitizing the high-touch points.

A Big Green technician sanitizing the high-touch points. (Big Green photo)

These ammonium chloride blends were approved to be effective against COVID-10 by the EPA. If you are using a Clorox brand disinfecting solution or a bleach solution in your home, you are essentially doing the same thing.

The other product choice for Big Green is ProKure V, which was added to the EPA’s List N: Products with Emerging Viral Pathogens AND Human Coronavirus claims for use against SARS-CoV-2 on March 3.

ProKure is chlorine dioxide (CIO2), and is the resulting chemical reaction when potassium chlorate is introduced to sulfuric acid.

While extremely effective, it must be used immediately after the chemicals are mixed and has a short life span of effectiveness.

The positive side of ProKure V is that it leaves a much smaller chemical footprint, making it the “greener” of the two options.

Pete Miko, the owner of Abatex and supplier of ProKure V to Big Green Cleaning Company, says chlorine dioxide is a neutral chlorine compound with the formula ClO2.

Although similar in name to chlorine, chlorine dioxide is very different from elemental chlorine, both in its chemical structure and in its behavior (think carbon v. carbon dioxide).

One of the most important qualities of chlorine dioxide is its high solubility in water, especially in cold water.

Chlorine dioxide does not hydrolyze (or undergo a chemical breakdown reaction) when it enters water. Instead, chlorine dioxide remains intact as a dissolved gas in water. 

ProKure V has less oxidation/corrosive potential than bleach or hydrogen peroxide. There is no harmful residue, with the end chemical product being water and salt (NaCl) vapor.

“We are happy to now offer both chemical formulas to our customers to allow them to make the choice that is best for them,” Williams said. “For the process of hand wiping of touch-point surfaces, it is our recommendation to use a hospital grade quaternary cleaner primarily because of the immediate effect and the longer shelf life that will ensure that the chemical has the full potency to complete its task.

“After a short dwell time, the surface can be wiped with a clean cloth to remove residue if that is our customers choice. For the full atomizing spraying technique, ProKure V is more in line with our company values for sustainability.”

We have seen some companies offer bids to our customers for sanitizing services at extremely inflated prices. Now is not the time for price inflation – it is time to serve our customers and community to help get through this short time period of concern.

All services offered by Big Green Cleaning Company for sanitizing services are at or sometimes even below our normal rates.

Important safety tip for anyone using an antibacterial cleaning product: Do not breath the fumes or mist from the disinfecting cleaning solutions.

The problem is that these solutions will kill all bacteria – even the protective coating of good bacteria that lines your throat. With that protective layer gone, you will likely get a sore throat and could also leave yourself more vulnerable to attack by an undesirable virus or bacteria.

Big Green technicians use pesticide level ventilating masks while using the atomizing sprayers. The risk for inhalation is much smaller when the chemical solutions are wiped onto surfaces by hand.

Regarding the toilet paper and hand sanitizer shortage, Williams said, “Our wholesalers have let us know that we are guaranteed to have enough toilet paper and sundries for at least the next month since we have standing orders enough to meet the needs of our existing customers.

“But the wholesalers are not taking on new contractors as customers, as they too want to make sure that their existing customers can be served. We did temporarily lose access to the types of products that homeowners could also purchase like bottles of Purell hand sanitizer or gym wipes. We expect our allotments of those products to resume in the next couple weeks.”

In addition to all of the great advice on personal hygiene and protection that is being circulated, here is a pro-tip from the janitors: The exit door to the bathroom is always the riskiest doorknob to touch – not just during a coronavirus situation.

Use the paper towel you dried your hands with to open that door and then discard the towel. Use your shirt sleeve or elbow to open the door if hand towels are not available.