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CIRI and the Science of Clean

“Only science can see.” For the Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI) it is just that simple.

CIRI’s strong belief in this credo represents a major shift in how the cleaning industry views the future. It also emphasizes the need for high performance cleaning for health, hygiene and appearance.

Evidence shows that cleaning service personnel — no matter how well trained — cannot determine a surface’s cleanliness simply by visually inspecting it. Only science-based cleaning standards can make that determination and CIRI hopes to lead the way in establishing those standards. The Institute is laying the groundwork for developing the basic science for measuring and establishing methods for quantifying clean. A task force has been appointed to assist in these endeavors.

CIRI’s launch of a “new and improved” Internet presence was made possible through the generosity of KaiScience and its online community. The Institute’s fresh site focuses on ways to foster cleaner, healthier indoor environments through science. This collaborative effort creates a central clearinghouse for all things “cleaning science, technology, research and education.” Site visitors can access the latest cleaning information and the results of any scientific-related research in the industry. There also is a vehicle for cleaning scientists to post and share new work and research for their colleagues to review.


A Look Back

The Cleaning Industry Research Institute began in 2005 as an idea shared by several visionary pioneers with about 50 of the cleaning industry’s leading members following suit. Shortly thereafter CIRI became the only independent and impartial institute involved in cleaning and building maintenance research. Its purpose was to improve indoor environmental quality (IEQ) for all building and facility types. Today CIRI is a 501.c.3 not-for-profit scientific, educational and research institute recognized for its groundbreaking cleaning science and research programs. As such CIRI serves the dual purpose of both informing and serving the “public good” as well as its membership.

Since its inception CIRI has sponsored unbiased technical research. This has allowed it to uphold the best interests of the commercial and professional cleaning industries while improving the public’s quality of life. The Institute is not meant to replace existing trade organizations or associations. Rather it prides itself on working together with leading industry groups, such as ISSA, ASHES, BSCAI, IEHA, RIA, IICRC and IAQA.


Science Advisory Council

CIRI’s Science Advisory Council (SAC) provides advice and feedback on critical research topics and helps define projects of interest to the cleaning industry. The Council is the primary means through which CIRI operates and derives its cleaning science and research acumen.

Members include Dr. Steven Spivak, engineering professor emeritus, University of Maryland, and SAC chair; Dr. Marilyn Black, Air Quality Sciences; Dr. Eugene Cole, Bringham Young University; and Dr. Elizabeth Scott, Simmons College. Dr. Michael Berry, University of North Carolina (formerly with the EPA) is an ad hoc advisor and former SAC chairperson. Other adjunct scientists, researchers and academians also collaborate to supplement the formal science advisory committee.

These professors, researchers and scientists assess policies and research projects. Their response to member needs and research initiatives keeps CIRI on the cutting-edge of cleaning, health, hygiene, performance and efficacy; environmental, green or eco-labeling concerns and trends; and scientific presentation and critique on various industry developments, new technologies, claims and issues.


Membership Has Its Benefits

CIRI always is looking for ways to increase its membership and reach more organizations interested in sharing its vision. Acquiring the previous Web site is one way CIRI plans to accomplish this. The Institute is hopeful that the new site will generate “associate” memberships for scientists, individual and companies not directly involved in the cleaning industry but who are interested in cleaning. These organizations include medical and health associations, flooring manufacturers and research institutes.

Presently CIRI members are provided with:


  • Access to cutting-edge information on cleaning science, health and the environment
  • A first look at groundbreaking research and scientific findings prior to public availability
  • CIRI speakers at their group or association’s conventions – with cost and fees to be determined
  • Articles on cleaning science, health  and more for posting on their organization’s Web site
  • Discounts on CIRI’s educational products, videos and international research symposium
  • An opportunity to build empowering relationships and have input into the future of cleaning science, health and technology.


A Cleaner Tomorrow

Part of CIRI’s mission is raising the importance of cleaning through scientific research. To date, its major focus has been on validation and assessment of clean, and applications of cleaning science for schools and youth. Our intent is that this research will provide the scientific bases leading to a new clean standard for K-12 schools.

Flooring Maintenance Cost:  With the help of a $100,000 grant from the Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI), CIRI hopes to elevate the awareness of critical, timely floor care in schools. A comparative study was conducted of the annual flooring costs for vinyl composite tile (VCT) and carpeted floors in K-12 schools. Phase 1 surveyed real world cleaning and maintenance systems and procedures and contract specifications from RFPs and direct managerial surveys. A preliminary view of perceived costs to adequately clean and maintain these floor types was obtained.

Up to four schools will participate in Phase 2’s pilot data collection study. This study will ascertain the viability and capability of flooring maintenance by periodic data collection. CIRI is employing a variety of survey and reporting mechanisms to determine when, where, how and how often the schools’ facility personnel are caring for, maintaining, cleaning and refurbishing various floor types comprising VCTile and carpeting.

Clean Standards / CIRI and ISSA Work:  CIRI is working in partnership with ISSA, the global cleaning products and services organization (formerly International Sanitary Supply Association) to develop science-based cleaning standards. This partnership’s initiative is funding independent research and test methods, both qualitative and quantitative, that will result in a pioneering new clean standard for K-12 schools.

Current research has focused on laboratory assessments of measuring tools to scientifically evaluate soiling or contamination and cleanliness. As well have been related field studies in daycare centers and throughout a major urban school district. Rigorous statistical analysis and correlations are planned to relate the results of soiling and cleanliness with student performance data. The latter will include ‘morbidity’ or student attendance and absenteeism and student scores on standardized academic tests.

Phase 1, the pilot study of this signal effort for clean and healthy schools, and its focus on youth, is complete and will be reported in due course. Phase 2 will resume in fall 2009. This phase is designed to assess the conditions in numerous schools buildings, sites within each school, maintenance and soiling conditions, cleanliness and clean measurements on various interior school surfaces and materials. During this time the planned ISSA clean standard for K-12 schools is being outlined and structured. Phase 3 will constitute the “beta” or prototype testing of final elements and configuration of the clean standards for these and other representative schools. Account Registration

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