Cleaning for Healthy Results™

The Reality:

Traditional Cleaning Methods Are Not Effective

Relatively recent advances in science and technology now allow us to test any surface for the amount of bacteria resident on that surface. The methodology, called ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) Testing, can be performed in about 30 seconds, using a simple, hand-held device. If you can use a cell phone or a PDA (personal digital assistant), you can conduct and interpret these tests.

Temco has been providing custodial and janitorial services for over 90 years, and we were as surprised as anyone to find that the traditional mop-bucket-wringer-water cleaning method is not as effective at eliminating or removing bacteria as once thought.  The following chart compares the amount of surface bacteria following the “traditional” cleaning method used today with the amount remaining following Temco’s SBCR™ Surface Bacteria Count Reduction process.


Comparison of surface bacteria counts follOwing cleaNing:
While both cleaning processes reduced the bacteria count in the restroom tested, the traditional cleaning method left a bacteria count 10 times that of the SBCR cleaning method. Repeated comparisons yield the same results: traditional cleaning methods just don’t do the job – they cannot and do not thoroughly clean surfaces. Those results are particularly disturbing when you consider that you or your child might come in contact with some of those traditionally cleaned surfaces every day. The surface might look clean, but chances are it’s not – unless it has been cleaned with healthy results in mind.

Remember the lesson Dr. Joseph Lister taught us: what you can’t see can hurt you.  Temco’s SBCR method of Cleaning for Healthy Results drastically reduces what you can’t see – harmful bacteria that can cause illness.

The Measurable Temco Difference



A Different Perspective
Significant, ongoing research is evaluating the effects of the indoor environment on students, office workers and factory employees. One of the most interesting studies was conducted by Dr. Michael Berry at an elementary school over a two-year period. By replacing traditional cleaning methods with a Cleaning for Healthy Results™ approach, Dr. Berry found performance and attendance improving on an accelerating curve over time.

We are not offering this example as “scientific evidence” (although there is significant evidence to this effect), but merely to demonstrate the importance of considering alternatives to traditional cleaning methods, equipment and processes.


Traditional Cleaning



The Science behind the Technology
Recent technological advances have made it possible, financially and practically, to measure surface bacteria counts using ATP instrumentation. ATP is an acronym for Adenosine Triphosphate, first discovered in 1929, but not used in testing until the 1990s. An article by Robert W. Powitz, Ph. D, MPH, explains the process:

 “ATP is the primary energy transfer molecule present in all living biological cells on earth. ATP cannot be produced or maintained by anything but a living organism, and as such, its measurement is a direct indication of biological activity. Because the level is strictly controlled in a living cell, ATP determination is used as an indicator of viable cell numbers. For hygiene testing, the total ATP content of the sample is determined (this includes both eukaryotic and microbial ATP). The purpose of ATP testing is to document effective cleaning by following the principle that if biomass is not extant on critical surfaces after cleanup, there is not enough medium for microbiological proliferation.”

In other words, if a test finds little or no ATP on a surface, bacteria are not growing there.

Using affordable, hand-held ATP detection instruments to measure surfaces before and after cleaning can demonstrate the effectiveness of a particular cleaning process. Temco works with clients to establish “acceptable” and “unacceptable” levels of bacteria for each building or each area within a building. ATP instrumentation is affordable and can be used successfully by all levels of supervisory support.

Indoor Air Quality is a complex issue with many, many components. We are not proposing to measure for specific contaminants, toxins, humidity, etc. Our goal is contribute to the improvement of IAQ by measurably reducing dust particles in the air. We achieve that reduction with the equipment, chemicals and processes we use to clean the campus. Our goal is to demonstrate, through instruments such as the P-Trak™ Ultrafine Particle Counter from TSI, that our methods are indeed making a difference. Sensitivity to airborne dust particulate varies from person to person; reducing the dust particulate count within a given building will provide a healthier atmosphere for all.

The Possibilities
Joseph Lister, a physician and scientist, in the mid 1860s developed the methodology upon which our Cleaning for Healthy Results program is based. He was the first physician to move from “Cleaning for Appearance” (visually based evaluation of cleanliness) to “Cleaning for Healthy Results” (quantification of cleanliness). The analogy of what Lister faced to the entire concept of cleaning today is too obvious to be missed.

Lister felt the popular theory, “If it looks clean, it must be clean,” was flawed and overlooked some of the scientific principles developed by Pasteur regarding “disinfectants.” At that time, surgeons thoroughly washed their hands with soap and water prior to every surgery. They would look at their clean hands and think, “They look clean, so they must be clean,” and then go into the operating theater – where 50% of their patients would die from massive infections following surgery. A survival rate of 50% was all that could be expected at that time.

Lister not only washed his hands prior to surgery; he was the first to use carbolic acid to “disinfect” his hands as well. Once be began to use this process, his death rate from infection following surgery dropped to zero. After nine months of other surgeons continuing to lose half their patients and Lister losing none, that their hands “appeared to be clean” was no longer an acceptable measure of cleanliness for surgeons.

Percentage of Patients Surviving Major Surgery in 1865


We are almost 150 years later and the lesson of Joseph Lister has not been lost on us. Temco is introducing Cleaning for Healthy Results as a process for cleaning more effectively and measuring cleaning results quantitatively.



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Temco is in the business of providing clean, safe, healthy environments that foster student learning and employee productivity.  We go well beyond the use of “green” chemicals, recycled paper goods and special equipment to actually condition the indoor environment. We reduce levels of bacteria and dust – and we scientifically measure results.

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