Buildings Buzz

Make Your Own Cleaning Solutions

Facility management is no longer just about making sure critical mechanical systems are functioning and the premises are clean. Sustainability has become a strategic focal point as commercial building owners look for ways to differentiate their brands, achieve LEED certification, attain government incentives, improve property values, and increase tenant occupancy and rates.

One way facility managers can proactively contribute to sustainability goals is to focus on their cleaning chemical program. A technology called on-site generation (OSG) allows janitorial staff to generate their own chemicals right on-site. This can contribute significantly toward sustainability goals by reducing the environmental impact associated with conventional packaged chemicals.

Safe and Effective Cleaning Power

One example of OSG uses an electrolysis process to convert water, electricity, and a small amount of salt into cleaning and disinfecting/sanitizing solutions. It can replace most conventional packaged chemicals that clean floors, carpeting, and hard surfaces.

This OSG technology produces two cleaning solutions: a multi-surface cleaner and a one-step cleaner-disinfectant. Building cleaning crews can easily dispense the solutions into spray bottles, automatic scrubbers, mop buckets, carpet extractors, and other cleaning equipment. This system integrates into current cleaning processes and fits into most janitorial closets. Furthermore, the solutions generally contain no dyes, buffers, or chelating agents – additives typically found in conventional solutions that raise environmental concerns.

The process also significantly reduces the number of packaged cleaning chemicals needed. The multi-surface cleaner generated by an OSG system can replace an array of conventional products: all-purpose cleaners, glass cleaners, stainless steel cleaners, chemicals for autoscrubbers, and pre-spray and in-tank chemicals for carpet extractors. Likewise, its cleaner-disinfectant can replace many conventional cleaner-disinfectants and sanitizers.

Before replacing conventional cleaning chemicals, it’s important to verify the efficacy of OSG solutions. Look for third-party recognition by credible organizations such as Green Seal, NFSI, the Carpet and Rug Institute, Woolsafe, NSF, TURI, and others.

Improve Productivity and Lower Costs

Early adopters of OSG systems have found this technology helps minimize the environmental impact associated with packaging, shipping, and disposing of conventional cleaning chemicals. It can also improve the health and safety of employees and visitors because OSG solutions contain no VOCs and little-to-no fragrance, making it an ideal solution for those with chemical sensitivities. Because their composition is typically non-irritating to skin and eyes, safe handling, storage, and hazardous spills are practically a non-issue.

Furthermore, opportunities for over or under-dosing are nearly nonexistent since OSG systems require only minimal maintenance and the solutions are typically dispensed as RTU (ready to use) without manual dilution.

Switching to OSG offers many productivity benefits as well. Using simple, non-irritating OSG solutions can lead to more productive cleaning processes and less potential for lost-time accidents.

Because OSG solutions don’t require manual dilution and can typically replace multiple cleaning products with two solutions, they can reduce training requirements. OSG can even lower the cost to clean because there is no need to purchase, reorder, or manage a wide array of traditional cleaning chemicals.

With sustainable cleaning contributing to LEED points, building owners can also enlist OSG to take the complexity out of establishing a required green cleaning policy. This could qualify them for points under LEED-EB O&M.

Jeff Johnson is the director of product management and marketing at Orbio Technologies, a manufacturer of OSG technology. He can be reached at

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