How to save water in the cleaning industry
Sustainability Innovation

Strategies and solutions to help save water in the cleaning industry

Monday, 7 August 2023

We only have to listen to what people are saying at the many industry-related trade shows, conferences and seminars we attend and read the latest news headlines to appreciate how topical a subject water conservation is. We need to realise how critically important it is to reduce water use in the cleaning industry and change our relationship with this precious resource.

Having recently published a very informative white paper on “Smart solutions for reducing water in the cleaning industry”, we thought it would be useful to revisit some of this report’s most significant findings and find out how they apply to the cleaning sector.

The whitepaper examines how the cleaning industry can ensure it is using water as responsibly as possible to effectively reduce water use during commercial cleaning. Negligence, ignorance and the inability to move with the times can simply not be used as excuses when it comes to issues of sustainability these days.

Let’s take a look at some practical ways in which the cleaning industry can be part of the solution to this crisis, and not part of the problem.

The looming global water scarcity crisis

Water is a valuable commodity and should be used sparingly. The impact of climate change is making an effective response to water scarcity essential. Safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene are fundamental to human health and well-being.

According to the whitepaper water scarcity affects more than 40% of the world’s population. The world could be facing a 56% freshwater deficit by as early as 2030.

So, how can companies conserve water while cleaning whilst also achieving optimum cleaning results?

How is water used in cleaning?

The cleaning industry is by its very nature a water intensive one. Water is an essential component of so many products and procedures, and one would be hard pressed to think of any cleaning or hygiene operation that could function properly without this precious and increasingly threated resource. Water has a vital role in cleaning. It is used for diluting chemical concentrates and is one of the main means of washing away dirt from floors and surfaces.

It can also be utilised at high pressures to blast ingrained grime surfaces such as walls, walkways and driveways. Deionised water can be channelled through water-fed poles to clean windows and façades.

Ready-to-use cleaners are highly diluted and may contain more than 90% water. This means transporting them requires additional vehicles and increases CO2 emissions compared with concentrated cleaners. The use of concentrated chemicals reduces the need for transporting unnecessarily large volumes of water. This is just one of the ways we can significantly reduce water use during commercial cleaning.

What impact do the new water saving in cleaning initiatives have on the cleaning sector?

The good news is that being water wise and remaining profitable are not mutually exclusive. In fact, there have been great strides recently in introducing pioneering advances featuring innovative new products, devices, and processes that can be used by both individuals and businesses to guarantee high standards of cleanliness and hygiene, as well as maintain the controlled and efficient consumption of water.

Being sustainable and saving water not only reduces our impact on the environment, it often lowers costs and can increase profits. Consumers are also becoming increasingly vigilant when it comes to selecting products that are deemed environmentally friendly. Companies that can tangibly deliver on their sustainability efforts are deemed more ethically responsible than others – and consumers are willing to reward this with purchasing loyalty.

Saving water in cleaning: part of the bigger picture

As an industry it is now more critical than ever that we explore innovative strategies to conserve water while cleaning. These include programmes to reduce water intake, use efficient water-saving equipment, reuse and recycle water, and manage wastewater treatment systems responsibly.

While reducing water usage is a praiseworthy planet-friendly aim in itself, the industry needs to look at the bigger environmental picture. The other crucial focus should be minimising the use of plastics, packaging, energy, and fossil fuels as well as water, whilst also optimising our recycling efforts. As an industry it’s now becoming absolutely essential we find innovative and efficient ways to conserve water while cleaning.

“Green cleaning” and eliminating harmful chemicals

Saving water in cleaning is crucial, but working responsibly with water encompasses many different aspects. From small businesses to professional outfits in the cleaning industry, the move towards sustainability or “green cleaning” is one of the biggest trends in the European cleaning industry and is gaining in momentum.

One of the many ways in which aspiring green commercial cleaning companies can change their potentially harmful habits is to reduce or eliminate dangerous chemicals. It is virtually impossible to prevent product residues from ending up in the hydrological cycle. Therefore, all detergents should be biodegradable in order to have a minimal impact on aquatic life and related ecosystems.

Innovative new water saving cleaning equipment

One green cleaning solution is to utilise high efficiency equipment to conserve water while cleaning. This doesn’t just conserve energy, but also conserves water which reduces environmental strain and utility costs.

Green cleaners also opt to try a “dry” solution first, thereby saving even more water. Many automated cleaners now feature pre-programmed “solution saver” functions for more accurate dosing of water and detergent solution to optimize consumption and reduce unnecessary waste.

Getting clever about smart technology

One of the most exciting developments in our efforts to reduce water use in the cleaning industry is in the application of so-called smart devices and data-led technology. New technology is currently transforming the cleaning sector and making it more efficient, sustainable and agile.

Many cleaning and hygiene specialists are now using the Internet of Things (IoT), AI and robotics, to very effectively help organizations and individuals to use water more efficiently and reduce consumption overall.

The Internet of Things (IoT) can also allow for autonomous monitoring of spaces that need periodic cleaning. By tracking chemicals, such as dust in HVAC systems and clarity levels in water, cleaning businesses can stay one step ahead and cleaning schedules can be created in accordance with data gathered by smart sensors. Not only can this boost efficiency, but it can also lower costs and help save energy and reduce water use during commercial cleaning.

The way forward: a winning approach to save water in the cleaning industry

When it comes to cleaning and hygiene only the highest standards of quality will suffice. However, this peace of mind must now extend beyond keeping people and places safe and healthy – we must now include the health and wellbeing of our planet and our resources, to safeguard them for the generations to follow.

By embracing these new advances in saving water in cleaning, the industry is demonstrating a willingness and enthusiasm for working together as a team to tackle water security head-on.

The new technology in the field of cleaning can not only help cleaning businesses offer their clients and customers these meticulous results – they can also offer them the opportunity to become part of the global water-saving movement. Now, that’s real peace of mind.

For more information on the subject of saving water in cleaning, take a look at our insightful infographic or listen to our fascinating podcast on the topic.

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