In March 2015, Euromonitor International compiled a series of reports about the state of cleaning in South Africa. From laundry habits to surface cleaning, toilet care and homecare, the research generally indicated that South African consumers generally focus on price as a when making a buying decision.
Alarmingly, one of these reports showed that "Bleach remained very popular in South Africa during 2014, with many low-income households using bleach as a multi-purpose cleaning product. Many South African consumers view bleach as an affordable alternative to other home care products due to the convenience it offers in terms of multiple applications without the hassle of needing to purchase and store numerous different cleaning products. In a country in which a substantial proportion of the population can be classified as low-income consumers, this is particularly important as purchasing numerous different specialised home care products can be very expensive."
It seems then that consumers are unaware of the devastating health and environmental impacts of bleach, or that green cleaning products have become increasingly more affordable. These products are usually highly concentrated, meaning that they last much longer than their chemical counterparts (while the biological action of enzyme based cleaners offer superior efficacy).
According to health site 'Sustainable Baby Steps', bleach is one of the most corrosive and deadly chemicals. The site confirms that; "The burn you feel when using bleach products or the coughing you may experience is a sign of the corrosive properties of bleach in your body. And that slippery feeling of bleach on your skin? That's actually caused by the lye (caustic soda) reacting to the fats and oils on your skin." If bleach is mixed with ammonia (found in urine – think toilet cleaning) or dish soap, deadly gases such as mustard gas are formed. Its oxidation forms hypochlorous acid, which destroys cell structures in humans – having an even greater effect on pets and birds.
Midge Wood, of Cleaning Africa and Green Worx Cleaning Solutions' Clinton Smith, had spent a few years building a working relationship together. Two pilot sites were selected to test the green cleaning products of two suppliers. "This was started on the 27th February 2012 and ran for a month. Clinton's chemicals came out tops, both in pricing and in effect, says Wood. "We then had the major task of re-training over 400 staff at over 60 sites. This task was finished on Friday 26th October 2012 and we haven't looked back since."
Going green has not been an expensive exercise, with the company absorbing the slight increase in cost, offering clients safer, more effective products for the same price. "Not only have they saved themselves a price increase, but we use less than one litre of water per carwash (versus 40 litres with a jet wash), with a resultant electricity saving," concludes Midge.
"All our cleaning products are now green. They are used in offices, showrooms, workshops, factories and in toilets and kitchens. The enzymes carry on cleaning long after the physical cleaning has been done. They permeate into the plumbing and the floor cracks and grouting removing all odours. The cars themselves are left with an impressive, long lasting shine. Cleaning Africa is proud to be Greening Africa!"