What’s in Your Cleaning Chemicals?

Selecting the right chemicals plays a fundamental role in shaping your facility’s cleaning program, as even the most dedicated cleaning staff can’t make up for poor product performance. When deciding which cleaning chemicals to useconsider questions like: Do these chemicals target all pathogens of concern? Are there safety hazards? Is there a simpler alternative? With roughly 10% of all work-related asthma cases being associated with cleaning products, it’s more important than ever to not only consider the efficacy of products but their impact on indoor air quality and building occupants. Read on to learn recommendations for enhancing your approach to chemical selection and cleaning.   

Overcoming Chemical Complexity 

Purchasing cleaning chemicals is a complex process because there are numerous products on the market addressing different types of surfaces. Many of these come with unfamiliar ingredients. Further complicating this is greenwashing, which occurs when companies make false claims about their product’s environmental sustainability. 

However, one way to simplify chemical selection and the cleaning process is with an on-site generator (OSG) that produces electrochemicallyactivated solutions (ECAS). Made from just water, salt and electricity, ECAS clean and disinfect just as well as other cleaning chemicals without a complicated list of ingredients. ECAS are also fragrance-free, non-irritating and drain- and disposal-safe, making them a safe and environmentally sustainable alternative. 

Best Practices for Better Selection 

Should you choose to use traditional cleaning chemicals rather than ECAS, you can follow the best practices below for determining whether a product is effective, safe and sustainable. 

Closely review the ingredients.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), 6% of custodians are injured by cleaning chemicals. Take the time to read product labels to understand the potential risks of listed ingredients. While reviewing the ingredients, ask yourself: Could the ingredients in one product be hazardous when mixed with another chemical? Can I rely on the efficacy of these cleaning chemicals? Are there pathogens of concern that these ingredients don’t address? 

Understand how to use a product.

After reviewing the ingredients, read through the product instructions. Learn which surfaces a product can be applied to, how long it needs to remain on the surface to be effective (dwell time) and how it should be applied. Knowing how to use a product ensures you get the best performance from your cleaning chemicals while minimizing potential health risks for employees and building occupants.  

Look for cautionary information.

It’s critical to identify how a product could impact cleaning performance and safety. Pay special attention to sections on the label where “WARNING” or “CAUTION” are written, as these are meant to highlight potential issues. Your cleaning staff may need to wear specific personal protective equipment (PPE) to enhance safety when using certain chemicals.   

Identify certifications and approvals.

Determine whether a product has a certification or seal of approval from a legitimate third-party organization. This indicates that the claims being made about the product are accurate, which is especially helpful for avoiding greenwashing. For instance, Green Seal is a prime example of a trustworthy organization that provides approval to environmentally sustainable products. Green Seal also certifies cleaning service providers whose processes align with its standards should your operation require additional cleaning support from a building service contractor.  

Maximizing Safety for the Best Results 

Although it has always been important to consider the health of essential workers, the pandemic has shined a much brighter spotlight on their physical and mental wellbeing. Considering the impact of your cleaning chemicals is just as important as their effectiveness, and critical to building trust among employees and customers. The best way to meet the challenges of the chemical selection process is with ECAS or other safe chemicals that will simplify and improve the cleaning process 


At GSF USA, we use ECAS because we care as much about cleaning safely as we do effectively. For more information, contact our offices here and follow us on LinkedIn and Facebook for the latest updates.  

Carmel Catholic Enrolls in New Cleaning Program with GSF


Carmel Catholic High School in Mundelein, Ill. is a 1,150-student school run by the priests and brothers of the Order of Carmelites and the Sisters of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. This highly respected parochial high school provides a well-rounded educational experience through academics, arts and athletics, and fosters a commitment to the community and the environment in its students. The COVID-19 pandemic led Carmel Catholic High School to adopt a hybrid learning plan in August 2020 that allows students to participate in remote learning from home and in-person classes.

With students, faculty and staff meeting on site, the school has placed a high priority on cleaning during the day and evening to reduce the risk of virus transmission and keep the in-person educational experience available to students. GSF USA, a global cleaning services company, cleans the school nightly and Carmel Catholic’s custodial team handles daytime cleaning. The GSF USA team wanted to move away from traditional cleaning chemicals that can have a negative impact on custodial professionals, building occupants and indoor air quality without sacrificing efficacy. This goal aligned with the school’s intent to keep the community safe while also living out its values of protecting the environment.

“Providing a healthier environment for students, custodial staff, teachers and all other building occupants is paramount,” said Claudio R. Hernandez, Area Manager, GSF-USA. “The pandemic has presented new challenges because more frequent cleaning and disinfecting is expected, but it can actually result in adverse effects if the appropriate products aren’t being used.”


In a commitment to provide effective and environmentally responsible cleaning and disinfecting, GSF installed a PathoSans on-site generation (OSG) system at the school. The system uses water, salt and electricity to create PathoClean®, a cleaner/degreaser, and PathoCide®, a sanitizer/disinfectant, on demand and on site. The electrochemically activated (ECA) solutions are readily available, eliminate supply chain issues and do not contain added fragrances or caustic ingredients. PathoCide is laboratory proven to be effective at inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus.*

“We are a big proponent of the PathoSans system because it is a better and safer alternative to traditional chemicals,” added Hernandez. “While some of our employees are new to working with ECA solutions, they have quickly become raving fans after using the cleaner and disinfectant and seeing the positive difference it makes at Carmel Catholic.”

Some GSF professionals were skeptical of the PathoSans ECA solutions at first because unlike more traditional cleaners, they look like water, contain no added fragrance or dyes and do not produce soapy bubbles. However, the employees soon realized that the products are easy to use, do not require labor intensive scrubbing and deliver a better clean. Employees noticed the bathroom floors and walls were cleaner after each application and the solutions were removing both odors and stains. They also like that PathoClean and PathoCide do not harm their skin.

Each night, GSF’s team thoroughly cleans and disinfects high-touch surfaces throughout the school including classrooms, hallways, restrooms and more. When the science teachers learned about the PathoSans solutions being used in the school, they began researching the ECA method of cleaning and disinfecting. They recognized the benefits provided by the sodium hydroxide cleaner/degreaser and hypochlorous acid sanitizer/disinfectant. Many teachers now use the cleaner and disinfectant in their own classrooms and the teachers’ lounge.


The partnership with GSF USA and PathoSans provides Carmel Catholic High School with:

Healthier and safer cleaning for people and the environment.

The PathoSans solutions offer an effective alternative to typical caustic chemicals with volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that are harmful to people and the environment. PathoClean and PathoCide are non-irritating to eyes and skin. They also do not leave behind an odor or residue. This makes them ideal for frequent use by cleaning professionals in the school where students, faculty and staff may have allergies, asthma or other sensitive health conditions.

Uninterrupted supplies of cleaning and disinfecting solutions.

The PathoSans solutions are produced in house and on demand. GSF knows their team will always have the necessary products to clean and disinfect the school at night and will not encounter supply chain issues. Daily and monthly system maintenance is quick and simple, and ensures that the system continually produces solutions within effective and safe ranges.

School-wide support and commitment to cleanliness.

For added assurance against COVID-19, many of the teachers are embracing the PathoSans solutions and supplementing GSF’s nightly cleaning and the custodial team’s daytime cleaning with their own cleaning and disinfecting efforts in classrooms. Teachers and cleaning staff use PathoClean to remove surface soils, followed by PathoCide to target remaining pathogens. PathoCide is 99.999% effective against numerous bacteria, fungi and viruses, including SARS-CoV-2. Regular use of the PathoSans solutions improves the appearance of surface finishes by removing layers of soil, making the school look cleaner than ever before.

“We are dedicated to doing what is best for the facilities we serve as well as our employees,” said Hernandez. “Using products like PathoSans gives us peace of mind and results in cleaner, healthier schools.”


*PathoCide® has been proven by an independent GLP laboratory to inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 virus in 60 seconds on a pre-cleaned surface and in 10 minutes in a one-step process when produced by on-site generator and used as directed. It is also effective against a wide range of bacteria and viruses, including Norovirus, which is generally recognized as one of the most difficult to kill.