The committee has begun work on a life cycle assessment (LCA) to compare reusable and disposable microfiber cleaning cloths and the flat mops. Environmental Clarity researchers Drs. Michael Overcash and Evan Griffing will conduct the research.

The group will provide data and important feedback on these common environmental services products for the researchers, as well as help to fund the study. If you’re interested in participating, contact Nancy Jenkins to join at

After the LCA is complete, an economic impact study is planned for both microfiber cleaning cloths and mops.

To date, the committee includes:

  • American Dawn — Duane Houvener
  • Calderone — Azher Kahn
  • Cintas — Aaron Jett, John Scherberger
  • Ecotex — Bryan Bartsch
  • IAHTM — Christi Carper
  • Leading Edge — David Goldberg
  • London Hospital Linen Services — Brendan O’Neill
  • Medline — Dan Sanchez
  • MIP — Gabriel Boardman, Chair
  • PerfectClean — George Clarke
  • Prudential Overall Supply — Jerry Martin
  • Virginia Hospital Laundry — Meredith Bowery

About the LCA

This study will offer a complete life cycle analysis — from natural resources (oil, natural gas, etc.) through complete supply chains, manufacturing plants, use/reuse phases and end-of-life disposition of the microfiber products. The studies of both the reusable and the disposable cleaning products include the following components:

  • The wipe or mop and their different materials and construction
  • Laundry process for reusable products with different materials and construction
  • Chemicals for disinfection and for laundry process
  • Primary, secondary, and tertiary packaging
  • Cradle-to-product supply chains for the materials used
  • End-of-life scenarios

Four Stages of the LCA Will be Covered

Four stages must be represented to create the life cycles and environmental performance comparison of reusable and disposable microfiber wipes and mops. They are:

1. The supply chain of the basic structural materials used to construct all components of these reusable and disposable systems.

2. Manufacturing, i.e., the factory assembly of materials into the microfiber cleaning products (cut, sew, trim, and adhesion). In addition, packaging to deliver to healthcare sites will be included based on inputs from manufacturers and service providers.

3.  The use phase includes cleaning and disinfection chemicals for disposables and reusables. For the reusables this will also include laundering, inspection/repair, and packaging. A single laundry technology will be used as representative of the reusable market. Laundry estimates of the weight of soil in typical cleaning of healthcare surfaces will be needed from laundry firms. For disposables, the use phase generates packaging disposal as well as cleaning soil removed.

4. The end-of-life for environmental cleaning products occurs after one use for the disposables and after a fixed number of cycles for reusable cleaning devices.

These four stages of the LCA provide the full life-cycle comparison of reusable versus disposable microfiber cleaning cloths and mops. Results will be expressed in metric units and the project will provide a recognized database for use by firms sponsoring this study.

The results for the single-use and reusable microfiber cleaning products will then be converted into life cycle impact assessment (LCIA) categories (such as carbon footprint) determined to be of value to ARTA members and the industry. This conversion from LCI to LCIA results will use the U.S. TRACI system for these transformations.

This project will be set up with a clear study hypothesis and clear conclusions will be stated. It will be linked to the life cycle literature to assure a quality peer-reviewed paper can be produced and published. The intended audience is nurses, physicians, healthcare purchasing personnel, and healthcare administrators.