With the arrival of spring, I can’t help but think about the freshness, clean and rejuvenation this season seems to bring. This time of year, the cleansing rains always serve as a reminder for me to begin my spring cleaning and start crossing items off my to-do list. Like me, many households and businesses may soon participate in the annual tidying up tradition of spring cleaning. As we begin National Cleaning Week, I thought it fitting to reflect on the past, present, and future of cleaning.

Evolution of Cleaning: From Mummies to Modern Day

It’s hard to imagine living at a time without running water; a time when streets were strewn with garbage, human feces, rodents roamed freely, and people lived in constant fear of catching one of many deadly diseases like smallpox, cholera and yellow fever. That life would be no picnic. Throughout history, the civilizations that thrived have something in common: progress in the realm of cleaning and sanitation. The inhabitants of ancient Egypt made and used crude soap for cleaning. The Romans built bathhouses and had systems to bring in fresh water and remove waste. During the industrial revolution, handwashing was found to lead to better health outcomes as well as the use of antiseptics.1 These and many other advancements have allowed sanitation and cleaning to evolve into what we know today. For us, safe and clean water is available thanks to chlorination and water treatment. We have also gained greater knowledge of infection prevention and the science behind sanitization and disinfection. Through continued innovation cleaning products have even become much safer and effective. While there are still challenges, we are fortunate for those who came before us and paved the way for cleaning so that we can enjoy healthier spaces in our modern day.

Cleaning for Health: The Focus of Today

As germs, including those new and emerging, circulate within our communities, cleaning and disinfection remain a critical line of defense to stop the spread. To protect our health, a high standard of cleanliness must be maintained in the environments where we learn, work and play.

A result of the pandemic is the cleaning industry moving to a “cleaning for health” mentality. Cleaning for health is more than just a catch phrase or simply wiping a surface, instead it describes using both cleaning and disinfecting products and best practices to help reduce the spread of germs and other unwanted matter. The ultimate goal in this is to make shared spaces safer for all people. Smart Disinfection encourages cleaning for health and describes how to do this in a more effective, efficient and safe way.

The Face of Clean: Our Future Heroes

Cleaning is something that is done by many people; however, it takes more than just a spray bottle and cloth to be called a cleaner. Professional cleaners, in my opinion, are often unsung heroes in public health work. These trained professionals labor tirelessly and often over evenings, weekends and holidays to ensure the spaces we occupy meet high cleanliness and safety standards. The pandemic reemphasized the importance of cleaning and it’s no surprise that an already massive commercial cleaning industry will continue to grow into the future. In the United States, there were over 1 million janitorial services businesses in 20212 and nearly 2 million cleaning professionals as of May 2020, excluding residential maids and housekeepers.3

The future of cleaning, I hope, will see a greater investment in the training and career growth of these cleaning professionals. The cleaning industry, like the rest of the nation, has not been immune to the current staffing crisis. As businesses experience high levels of turnover, there is a need for quality training to be provided to staff. HealthyClean is a course designed with commercial cleaning professionals in mind and provides the education and training they deserve to help ensure shared spaces are clean and safe.

As we celebrate National Cleaning Week, let’s honor those who dedicate themselves to keeping our spaces clean and seek opportunities to get to know them and offer a heartfelt thank you for all they do.


1. Wilson C. History of cleanliness in health care facilities [Internet]. BootieButler. 2016 [cited 2022 Mar 15]. Available from: http://bootiebutler.com/history-cleanliness-health-care-facilities/
2. Janitorial Services in the US – number of businesses [Internet]. Ibisworld.com. [cited 2022 Mar 15]. Available from: https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-statistics/number-of-businesses/janitorial-services-united-states/
3. Number of employees in cleaning occupations in the U.S. by type 2020 [Internet]. Statista. [cited 2022 Mar 15]. Available from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/324419/employees-in-cleaning-occupations-by-job-type-us/