Such a refreshing site to see a cleaning company becoming as green as possible. With over 400 locations throughout North America, Maid Brigade is sweeping their good habits and products through mainstream America and Canada, all the while setting the standard for wanna-be green companies.
I ran across an interview with their Vice President, Cloud Conrad. Here are some excerpts:
Tell me about Maid Brigade’s Green Clean Certified System.
“Green Clean Certified” is the proprietary certification system. When we launched… our green cleaning service in April 2007, there was no standard written anywhere for house cleaning services. We patterned our standard off of Green Seal GS 42 – the standard for institutional cleaners, janitorial services that clean business offices – and in some degree on GS 37, the Green Seal standard for the cleaning products themselves.
We felt that it was important to have, we wanted to establish, our own standard because we wanted to make sure as a franchised organization with more than 400 locations in the US and Canada, wanted to make sure our brand was consistent with what we were doing and saying, franchise to franchise and visit to visit.
When did Maid Brigade decide to go green and why?
We decided to go green in the summer of ‘06. It really actually came as a suggestion and request for us to look at from our franchisees. A Boise, Idaho area franchise… [was] soliciting the businesses of a big bank building. This bank was going for LEED certification and their contact within said they had to have a company that cleans green. They taught themselves how to clean green and through the process they discovered that it’s not costing any more money, [and] the customers were happy.
At that point we entered the R and D phase [research and development] and we spent eight months in that process and looking at different products, inspecting different green cleaning standards… testing over several months in several franchise locations. And after about eight months of testing we wrote it up as a procedure and we launched it in April 2007.
Household cleaners are not required to list all ingredients. Does Maid Brigade make the ingredient lists for its cleaning products available to the public?
Yes. We don’t distribute those in every home because that’s a waste of paper and a waste of trees. MSDS [material safety data sheets] are available for anyone who wants those. That is a requirement for Green Seal’s GS 42 for institutional standards. It has to be [a requirement] because if I’m sensitive to a particular chemical or my family is and I want to make sure that you are cleaning green, and not introducing that chemical into my home, that’s the only sound proof of what is or is not.
What about cleaning equipment, like vacuums, cleaning cloths, gloves, sponges, mopheads, that kind of thing?
We use vacuums that are certified under the Carpet and Rug Institute green label. Their standard requirement is that vacuums remove 99.9% of air particles that are 1 micron or larger, basically what that means is that vacuums are removing almost all pet dander, pollen, dust, mites, mildew and other respiratory irritants. The indoor air quality is a major factor in respiratory health…
Green Seal wants your cloths to be reuseable and in general Green Seal wants a cleaning program that reduces solid waste. We use microfiber cloths and microfiber mops. The stuff is awesome. Basically they have a static charge to them so they attract dust, stuff better. They do a better job cleaning. They require use of less cleaning solutions as well because they’re so effective, and they last much longer than a cotton cloth, reducing manufacting and landfill waste – really significantly better in terms of the environmental benefits of green cleaning. And according to Green Seal’s standards, the cleaning solutions have to be equally effective. They have to do their job…
I’ll be forthright with you. We include in our bucket – our portfolio – a product that is not Green Seal certified and that is called Stix, because we have to be effective. It actually has to clean the surface properly and it has to be safe. You use the midlest thing possible to do a job. So we always start with our Green Earth product line which is from Betco. Some of these are Green Seal approved products in and of themselves. But Stix is not. Stix is our last ditch effort. We do not use bleach at all. This is actually more preferable for an environmental and health standard than bleach. But it’s still a strong chemical including phosphoric acid. We only use that where nothing else will do.
[We use] peroxide. If that doesn’t work we use Bon Ami, which is not Green Seal approved. We use a pumice stone which is very green. If that’s not gonna work we use a drywall screen which is more abrasive so it can get off stains that the peroxide cleaner can’t get off. I want to be forthright about that. We want to lay it all out there. Stix is actually used on LEED-certified buildings so its not ungreen.
[It’s ok] If the customer wants us to use their floor polish, which is not green, or their bleach on their mildew, but they have to provide it. That’s your request and you have to provide it. Mildew is one of those examples where our peroxide cleaner does a pretty good job but consumers are constantly providing an environment that’s favorable for mildew to grow in, a moist, warm environment. Some customers say “A little mildew is okay, I’d rather have a green program,” some customers will say, “Not acceptable – I’ll put the bleach on the counter.”
How can customers confirm that Maid Brigade is making these green claims in good faith?
I would want them to visit our sister site, greencleancertified.com, and read up in there. That would be one place to go, there’s videos on that site and useful video on the maidbrigade.com site. The video walks consumers through five basic questions to ask a cleaning service. Really at the end of the day a consumer could call me or call their local Maid Brigade and ask these questions.