My experience has taught me that most if not all Business owners are visionaries. They create a vision for the future and lay out a rough plan that they can commit to, whatever the sacrifice might be. There is a need to dream big and build the perseverance to see that vision to actualization. My experience has also taught me that the best visionaries also often miss out on some of the smaller details that lay the groundwork to make those dreams a reality. Today I want to focus on a crucial smaller detail that will makes the world for your clients and employees: Presentation and Cleanliness.
The Presentation of your Office is how you Present your Business
While it may seem superficial, it is absolutely true. How your customers see your office gives them an impression of what to expect with your services. A dirty office gives the impression of carelessness and apathy. On the contrary you can use your space to create mood, whether that be through your use of colors, space, or rhythm. Consider your business front as a form of marketing, how would you like to sell yourself? Do you want to be seen as cozy and intimate, create a environment that feels more comfortable, lived in, and inviting. Do you want to be seen as more modern? Then your business front should look more sleek and fresh.
This also extends to smells. If you are using toxic chemicals for your cleaning, you are creating an uncomfortable environment that will bring irritation to your customers and employees. Instead use green cleaning products like Mrs Meyers clean Day, Method, Aunt Fannies, etc. to facilitate an environment that is free of toxic chemicals and full of of natural scents. I would also suggest avoiding conventional candles. If you are insistent of having candles consider using candles that are made using soy or beeswax with essential oils for the scent. This is to ensure that your are using scents that are less likely to have a negative effect on your staff or customers. You want to avoid giving your customers a headache or making them nauseated when they are at your storefront. In that vein, know what your employees sensitivities are; a nauseous employee isn’t going to be as productive or positive.
Air and Light are crucial to creating a Healthy Atmosphere
Consider how you are utilizing air and light. Natural lighting will help to make your business look bright and keep your energy bill down. Having dusty windows obscures natural light and makes the atmosphere more dingy. Make sure you are cautious when you clean your windows, use a squeegee or something you know won’t harm the glass. In interior design, light acts as one of the central components to creating an inviting atmosphere. By utilizing light in an effective way, you are creating an invitation for the customer.
Likewise the air in your office is pivotal to creating a productive work environment. Bad air flow can create a stuffy workplace that invites pests. Make sure your vents are changed regularly and that the workplace is actively dusted. Not only will having fresh air keep the environment smelling clean, but it will also reduce the static electricity in the air which can be dangerous for electronic equipment.
Maintaining Order and Cleanliness is Important to Safety
Besides being an effective marketing tool, maintaining a clean and neat workplace will ensure that your workplace is safe for your employees. It will communicate to customers that they are in a safe place which influence their spending habits. This is particularly important for a storefront or restaurant that serves food, but is also valuable for any business. It should be noted that by maintaining a clean workplace, you are sending the customers a message that you care about their safety and health.
Consider your use of Whitespace
Even if you maintain a high level of cleanliness, a cluttered workplace will create the sense of dirtiness. It is always good to have a measure of openness to your storefront/office to give a sense of freedom of movement. Both customers and employees alike will always appreciate more room to move around and having open counter-space may ease unwanted frustration. However too much empty space can have a negative effect as well. If the places has too much white-space, it gives the customer a sense that place is empty and barren. Again consider the mood you want for your customers and employees to have and emulate it with space management.
Train Your Employees On Proper Cleaning Practices
To keep things manageable, it is important to maintain a good cleaning schedule that is shared amongst the team. If an employee isn’t actively doing a small part in maintaining a clean work place, they are likely just adding to workload for the team. what are your companies cleaning habits and protocol? Team members should know what their daily cleaning expectations are, where to find and put away cleaning products, and what habits/products to avoid to keep a clean workplace. Cleaning habits should be an active part of the employee’s on-boarding process and should be taken seriously on all levels of management.
Consider How you Manage Waste
This includes disposing waste on a regular basis and in the correct manner. You want to make sure you’re cognitive in how you manage your waste. Also consider where waste is disposed. Be deliberate in where you put your waste baskets so that they aren’t in a location that would negatively affect customers or staff. Waiting areas for instance may benefit from a waste basket that is either smaller or away from the customer seating. If it is a larger trash bin, ensure it has a cover that is less likely to be stained by grime and that is cleaned regularly. Consider how you manage outside waste. If you have an outdoor waste disposal, keep the premises around it clean and out of the way of parking.
Generally speaking there shouldn’t be litter around your store. The outside of your business is the first impression customer get of your business and it sets the mood for what the day is going to be like for you and your employees. Down-time is a great time to get some air and clean up around the office.
Make Cleaning easy and fun
You can also invite cleaning by encouraging cleaning at the office by having the proper supplies in a relatively easy to access location. I fr there is a way to incorporate your employees passion as a way to provide a green environment, take the opportunity. For instance, if you have the time supply your employee(s) with the tools to create candles with essential oils. It is a relatively quick way to encourage creativity, give your employee(s) a small break and stock the store with a healthy smelling option that your employee(s) can be proud of. There are tons of ways you transforming cleaning from an additional job to a clean break from the mundane workday.
The Importance of Green Cleaning
We discussed in briefly before, but it is important that when you clean, that you don’t default to conventional cleaning practices. You want to create safer, healthier, inviting climate for your customers and employees. By using green cleaning practices, you are using methods that are non-toxic, better for the environment, easier, and cheaper, while being just as effective. Green cleaning sends your customers the message that you care about their health as well as the world around you. In today’s Eco-friendly driven economy, it is important to let your customers know that you are being intentional on every level of development and planning.
Get Help from the Pros
That all said, not every business has the time and resources to keep the workplace in tiptop shape. By hiring a professional cleaning company, you can be rest assured your business maintains a professional level of cleaning that besuits your business. By getting help from a professional cleaning service, you can take advantage of their expertise and focus on what building your vision
I recall a time when my friend asked me “Do you know what sodium laurel sulfate [SLS] is?” while we grocery shopped in Chicago. Naturally I answered “No, I don’t”. “Well, it’s a chemical in shampoo that builds up in your body as formaldehyde; ya know, the stuff they embalm people with” she responded. “That is so gross!” I was stunned.
It was 2008 and I had already begun my “clean eating” journey. Having my friend explain this to me was not a surprise, but startling none the same. I didn’t even question if she was right. I was just determined to AVOID SLS at every turn. Since then, I have been adamant to choose skin and body care that does not have toxic ingredients in them. Though usually a costly and inconvenient endeavor, I believe the health benefits will be worth it for life.
As I’ve grown up, I’ve learned to not take someone’s word as truth and authority. I suppose it’s part of maturing and realizing we can all get it wrong, even on a subject we are deemed an “expert” on. As someone who values truth and integrity above all else, I try to devote more time to making sure what I have adopted as truth is actually TRUE. It’s a journey!
So, does SLS become formaldehyde in our bodies… I don’t think so. BUT I discovered there is no way of knowing how the SLS is preserved before it is added to products. They are not required to put that on the label. And it does appear that most SLS is preserved with formaldehyde. So maybe my friend was right after all?
So, what is Sodium Laurel Sulfate (SLS)?
It is a surfactant that helps oil and water mix. It is used in products to make them sudsy and to clean better. Think liquid dish soap, liquid hand soap, shampoo, and toothpaste. It’s also put in food items like marshmallows.
SLS is known for drying out skin by breaking down the epidermis layer. Regulations state it must be under 1% of a product and should not stay ON the skin for any length of time. For example, washing your hands with a SLS product is less irritating than using a lotion with SLS.
SLS is used in a lot of lab tests because of its surfactant nature. Therefore, we do have a lot of scientific data on it.
SLS does not sound that harmful to our bodies when it is diluted properly and only briefly in contact with the skin. That said, it does dry out our skin, which is our biggest organ and part of our immune system.
The problem with SLS seems to arise by what it is preserved with.
There is no evidence that SLS is carcinogenic or that it causes hair loss. Sometimes “lack of evidence” just means they haven’t researched it enough. Due to the abundant lab tests utilizing SLS it does appear that SLS on its own is not carcinogenic. The jury is still out on hair loss. Again, it’s not just about the SLS, it’s about the unknown, carcinogenic preservatives it’s mixed with. Formaldehyde, for instance, is carcinogenic.
The moral of the story is that it’s our responsibility to be informed consumers. Corporations and manufacturers do not have our best interests in mind. They want to make money. Often, shortcuts are made, and cheap toxic chemicals are used to increase profit.
I recommend reading labels and researching the words you do not understand. You will be very enlightened. Many body care products use naturally derived forms of SLS. They are supposed to be healthier options. I’m not sure if that means they are preserved with something less toxic.
Please dive into the research below to learn more.
“Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), or one of its cousins like Ammonium lauryl sulfate (ALS) or Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), is the main cleaning agent and second-largest ingredient after water in most regular brands of shampoo, shower creams, liquid soap, toothpaste, shaving gel, bubble baths, etc.”
The fact that SLS, or its more common name in science, the reason SDS (sodium dodecyl sulfate) is found in so many studies is the same reason why you find it in a lot of cosmetics, household and industrial cleaners – it is cheap! SLS is a cheap surfactant, commonly used in scientific labs to dissolve other molecules, for analytical studies, for toxicological studies and for any other application that does not require more natural conditions such as preserving the 3D-structure and activity of proteins. That is the downside of this very cheap surfactant, it damages protein structures or, correctly expressed, denatures the proteins, and thereby they lose both shape and function. In fact, one of the most used laboratory analytical methods for proteins is based on the ability of SLS to denature proteins (SDS-PAGE).”
Does SLS Cause Blackheads? Yes, SLS is most likely comedogenic. It has scored positive in the classical rabbit’s ear assay . In spite of that, it is regrettably often found in acne cosmetics.
Can SLS Cause Hair Loss? SLS has been found accumulated in hair follicles [4, 5, 18] but so far there is no study that supports that SLS could cause increased hair loss.
Does SLS Cause Dry Hair and Split Ends? Yes, SLS damages the outer surface of the hair strands, the cuticle, resulting in loss of shine, a rougher surface and split ends [19-21]. Even though all anionic surfactants to some extent damage the hair surface compared to only using water, SLS is harsher than all other surfactants used in skin care products.
“SLS is an anionic surfactant commonly used in consumer household cleaning products. For decades, this chemical has been developing a negative reputation with consumers because of inaccurate interpretations of the scientific literature and confusion between SLS and chemicals with similar names. Here, we review the human and environmental toxicity profiles of SLS and demonstrate that it is safe for use in consumer household cleaning products.
“Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), also known as sodium laurilsulfate or sodium dodecyl sulfate, is an anionic surfactant commonly used as an emulsifying cleaning agent in household cleaning products (laundry detergents, spray cleaners, and dishwasher detergents). The concentration of SLS found in consumer products varies by product and manufacturer but typically ranges from 0.01% to 50% in cosmetic products1,2 and 1% to 30% in cleaning products.3,4 SLS can be synthetic or naturally derived. This chemical is synthesized by reacting lauryl alcohol from a petroleum or plant source with sulfur trioxide to produce hydrogen lauryl sulfate, which is then neutralized with sodium carbonate to produce SLS.5”
“Down-the-drain cleaning products release SLS into the environment via household wastewater systems. In the environment, >99% of SLS readily biodegrades into nontoxic components per the OECD 301 standard.7”
“Dermal toxicity studies demonstrate that 24-hour exposure to a 1–2% (w/w) solution of SLS can increase the transepidermal water loss of the stratum corneum – the outer most layer of the skin – and cause mild yet reversible skin inflammation.”
“There is no scientific evidence supporting that SLS is a carcinogen.33,34 SLS is not listed as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC); U.S. National Toxicology Program; California Proposition 65 list of carcinogens; U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and the European Union. In 1998, the American Cancer Society (ACS) published an article attempting to correct the public’s misconception of SLS.”
“If you are concerned about the possible effects of SLS accumulation, look for shampoos, toothpastes and other personal care products marked “SLS free.” According to Mother Nature Network, a related product known as sodium coco sulfate, which is also a coconut derivative, may be less irritating than SLS or SLES. Look for shampoos made with essential oils, or wash your hair with baking soda.”
“Some products containing SLS include a brief warning somewhere stating that there’s a chance the product could cause skin irritation, dryness or redness on sensitive skin. If you have sensitive skin, always read ingredient labels carefully, and opt for natural skin care products as much as possible, including those that are homemade or store-bought but labeled hypoallergenic and organic. If you are going to use products containing SLS, try to avoid heating them and mixing them with very warm water, since this can open up the skin’s pores and lead to worsened reactions. One study found that warmer water caused SLS to lead to more skin irritation. When it comes to avoiding it in foods, your best bet is to limit consumption of processed foods (such as bottled juices, frozen meals and liquid eggs) and read ingredient labels.”
Disclaimer: We do not claim to be experts on these subjects. We communicate what we understand to be well sourced facts. We acknowledge that information on these topics evolves over time and that we may not have uncovered the full story on these subjects. Please do your own research and follow your peace. We make suggestions out of good will and state that you follow them at your own risk. Our heart is to spark curiosity and empower you to make incremental changes that deeply improve your wellbeing. Thank you for going on this health journey with us.