ARTICLE

What's cooking?

26 January 2016

When it comes to oven cleaning it is important to understand the products and equipment being used and the harmful effects they could have on people and the environment. Richard Crawford sheds light on how to select the safest options

We’ve seen the popularity of eco-friendly cleaning grow and grow in recent years. Not just because of the low impact they can have on the environment but because of their long-term sustainability and lack of harmful side effects.

While to some the overwhelming benefits of eco-friendly cleaning are all too obvious, there is still some confusion around the definition of ‘eco-friendly cleaning’, as well as which products are best to use and which should be avoided at all costs. 

Toxic ingredients

It is important to understand the range of toxic cleaning products that exist in the marketplace. Always read the labels as almost every product you buy off the shelf is likely to be harmful to your workforce. One chemical that you should certainly be wary of is sodium hydroxide as it is alkaline enough to cause severe burns to the skin. EU manufacturers are not allowed to write ‘non-toxic’ on their products, as this is often misleading to consumers, so it is best to thoroughly research what you are buying first. If you cannot do without harmful cleaning products, you must consider how they are stored and have the correct safety procedures in place before use.

Self-cleaning ovens

If you have a self-cleaning oven, these do not involve toxic chemicals, but they may nonetheless be dangerous. A typical self-cleaning oven reaches a temperature of 500 degrees centigrade to bake off all the grime. When you consider the fact that modern fire protection clothing begins to burn at 300 degrees centigrade, it’s worth asking: are you really willing to create such a potentially harmful situation in the confines of your business?

Luckily there are ways to remove these dangers to your staff. We only use eco-friendly cleaning products and we always surprise our customers with fantastic results. Unlike toxic oven cleaning products, the eco-friendly varieties that we use do not emit harmful chemicals that can cause severe health complications. In fact, it’s possible to clean an oven with entirely natural ingredients. Household ingredients like vinegar and bicarbonate of soda have been used for decades, and more recently, seaweed has been developed in some brands of industrial oven cleaner.

Hiring the professionals

If you want to hire a green cleaning company, you must first familiarise yourself with any products they use. There are no regulatory bodies that define which products are eco-friendly and which are not. Do your own research, as some products have been found to be misleading when it comes to how ‘green’ they really are. Unlike the Fair Trade logo, which does have a regulatory body, anybody can use the term ‘eco-friendly cleaning’ so use your judgement wisely.

Some cleaning products might describe themselves as being ‘chemical free’ but it is important to remember that everything is a chemical, whether harmful or not. 

Never hire a cleaning company on face value alone. Every one of their staff should be professionally trained and have a complete understanding of which products they use and their purpose. 

This is a matter of great importance and if the cleaning industry is going to evolve in a positive way, the challenge will be to persuade the public that true eco-friendly cleaning is the only feasible option. 

Richard Crawford runs The Ovencleaners, a family-run and eco-friendly oven cleaning and repair service in Nottingham.

 
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