David Kiser – Cleaning for Health

Air Date: 9-20-2019|Episode 558

This week on IAQradio+ we welcome David Kiser. David has cared for indoor environments throughout his career in the mechanical and cleaning industries. He has worked in the management and sales of mechanical contractors and large equipment manufacturers. Working in the mechanical industry, David was an active member of ASHRAE.

David, and his wife, Carrie also started and operated a family cleaning business for over 30 years in Northern Virginia. The company, Champagne Services, held the CIMS-GB Certification. They served hundreds of the same clients for decades. David and Carrie are Founders of the Association of Residential Cleaning Services (ARCSI). He served as the first President of ARCSI. Champagne Services was also the first residential cleaning service to join the Cleaning Industry Research Institute. David spearheaded and served as the initial Chair of the IICRC House Cleaning Technician (HCT) Course. David serves on the IICRC HCT Committee and is an IICRC Instructor.

Champagne was sold in January 2015 with bookings generating over 75 regular recurring cleaning events daily for years. David is active in the cleaning industry as a thought leader, consultant and IICRC Instructor. David is a co-author of the benchmark book for the residential cleaning industry, The Professional Housecleaning Technician’s Manual.

Z- Man’s Blog:

Cleaning for Health,with David Kiser

David Kiser has cared for indoor environments throughout his career in the mechanical and cleaning industries. He was the founder of the Association of Residential Cleaning Services (ARCSI). He is coauthor of The Professional Housecleaning Technician’s Manual, the benchmark book for the residential cleaning industry.

Nuggets mined from today’s episode:

IAQ: Why, how and when did you enter the cleaning industry?

DK: My wife Carrie started cleaning homes here in Northern Virginia (Fairfax and Loudoun County) in 1981. I got hurt as a welder and was recuperating. I would go and help her dust or vacuum some and noticed she was making good money. She wasn’t commuting anymore and paying a babysitter as much. I thought, there is something to this housecleaning thing.I had been passing out flyers in the evenings Carrie made up from rub on stencils. In 1982 my Uncle had a small 20 client commercial cleaning business that had a couple of routes. He also had a truck mount carpet machine. I bought his business when he retired. By 1984 we were doing amillion a year. 75% was residential cleaning. We belonged to the Building Contractors Association International (BSCAI) and I knew many of the Founding Members such as Jim Purcell. They were mentors.We sold the commercial side of the business in 1986 when our son Chase was born. He was born with Downs and some other issues and we needed to change gears. Carrie and her mother ran the business until 1999 when I took it back over at their request. I had left the business in 86’ and had been working in the heavy mechanical industry in management and sales. That experience selling large boilers and being engaged in large retrofit and construction projects helped me understand the importance of a clean, safe indoor environment.

IAQ: Take us from 1999 to ARCSI. What is ARCSI and how did it get started?

DK: ARCSI is an acronym that stands for the Association of Residential Cleaning Services International. It was founded by Perry Philips in 2003, 2004 and there about 9 other Founding Members. Perry started a little housecleaning business in Atlanta. He discovered there was not much out there for residential cleaning technically or managerially. Housecleaning or residential cleaning as a profession is a relatively new industry compared to many mature industries.  The first franchises started in 1999. We started our business in 1981. There was a real need for information. There is even more of a need for accurate information today. Surfaces have changed in homes. The “green” movement has come to the fore and it is hard to distinguish between true green and green wash.

ARCSI has helped the residential cleaning industry in many ways:

  • Learning how to work with JanSan distributors
  • ARCSI has been the catalyst for networking and the creation of mastermind and peer groups
  • ARCSI was the incubator for the IICRC HCT Program.
  • ARCSI has increased awareness about the need for Standards related to housecleaning.

There are no universally accepted Standards for residential cleaning. That includes all residential settings. Places like multi-housing, Assisted Living, Rehab Hospitals, etc.

IAQ: Speaking of Nursing Homes, Gene Cole presented a real sobering scenario at the CIRI Symposium at Miami University of what happens when people move out of and into a Nursing Home or Assisted Living facility.

DK: Gene Cole described a common scenario in which occupants in nursing homes or assisted facilities get an infection, over the course of several days become sicker and weaker and then sent to a hospital where they succumb to the illness. Due to waiting lists for rooms and the lack of standardized industry protocols the former room in nursing home or assisted living facility is not properly cleaned prior to occupancy be the next patient.

In the Q&A forum that followed his part we discussed the need for education. We also discussed throughout the entire Symposium event the way cleaning people are perceived in the United States especially.

DK: It is sad and scary how people view those in the cleaning profession. Really, these folks are the first line of defense in healthcare. They should be appreciated and respected as such. Much like a First Responder. It is very tough to measure the illness you don’t get and the associated cause behind not getting it.

There must be an effort by those who know and understand these things to change the paradigm of the public. Public Health Advocates, Research Scientists, Universities and Contractors can all play a role in telling the story better. It is not the role of the medical profession. When you go to them you are already sick. It is their job to fix you after the fact. Some may know something about cleaning and infection control. Most do not, but they are the first people go to many times. They do not have the credentials better suited people have to educate and inform people about cleaning.

I believe it will take a Many pronged approach:

  • Education is the key. Certificate (for techs) and college (Env. Sc.) level courses (for managers/owners) with focus on residential settings.
  • Placement support for those choosing this type of profession
  • Cleaning science and Management science
  • Education/PR program for the masses about CAI, hygienic cleaning, cleaning science, vacuum cleaners, dry steam vapor, microfiber performance, cleaning chemicals, recipes and debunking myths about cleaning.
  • People who clean are recognized by those who really know and understand that they are the First Line of Defense in Healthcare. That message needs to be telegraphed in a way that the general population appreciates professional cleaning folks.

IAQ: What constitutes a professional in the housecleaning industry?

DK: Some would say a professional is a person that gets paid for providing a service. With housecleaning, I believe it involves more. The reason is housecleaning is about protecting people from harm and protecting surfaces and furnishings in a home. So, cleaning efficacy is crucial and knowing products, soil types, cleaning solutions and equipment is key to delivering value to consumers.

IAQ: Your company, Champagne Services carried the CIMS-GB certification. Why would anyone care about that?

DK: A lot of HC businesses market their service as providing natural or “green” cleaning. CIMS-GB is a third-party program that has an assessor review your business on site, speak with clients, vendors and employees to establish that your company meets recognized standards for residential cleaning and not just making claims without merit. The real benefit to businesses is that the program makes your really scrutinize your business operations from training to chemical selection to ongoing professional development. Communicating the features of CIMS-Gb to people with significant discretionary income and upscale homes commanded higher price points for our service. It also helped with other issues like employee and client retention because we had to prove our processes.

IAQ: Speaking of green cleaning, what products work and what have they replaced?

DK: First of all, it is important to note disinfectants, by definition cannot be “green”. Disinfectants are designed to kill and are regulated. Green cleaning solutions are not. This is where confusion sets in. Historically, people have known that vinegar kills germs. And it does. A study was published in 2015 out of Great Britain on using highly diluted vinegar to treat burn patients and break up harmful biofilm. When people read the media headlines about this type of study, they believe vinegar is good for disinfection. It is apples and oranges. It may help in some cases for cleaning inanimate surfaces due to its acidity. It is not an effective disinfectant though. It kills a lot of bacteria but not enough to remove the danger. That study in Great Britain was about highly diluted vinegar being used as a bacteriostat on burned skin to prevent the formation and growth of pathogenic biofilm. It was not bactericidal as disinfectants are required to be.

Cleaning solutions are designed to suspend or lift soil. We have found deionized water has had good outcomes. Especially when used with a hospital grade microfiber. ATP meters are showing results of 8 to 30 after cleaning a surface one time that was in the hundreds beforehand.

An example of benefits associated with good cleaning practice:

“Sally Louisa Tompkins (November 9, 1833 – July 25, 1916) was a humanitarian, nurse, philanthropist and the first woman to have been formally inducted into an army in American history. Many believe that she was also the only woman officially commissioned in the Confederate Army. She is best-remembered for privately sponsoring a hospital in Richmond, Virginia to treat soldiers wounded in the American Civil War. Under her supervision she had the lowest death rate of any hospital Union or Confederate, during the Civil War. She has been remembered as the “Angel of the Confederacy”. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.


  • Not the staph infection of the past, MRSA is a super germ.
  • Like welding and other trades, cleaning is a craft.
  • Excess dust in the home may contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. Small particles of dust are known to get past the blood brain barrier.
  • Doesn’t recommend vacuums without bags and filters.
  • Carpet is more comfortable than hard surface flooring.
  • In combination with suction, the beater bar on vacuum cleaners lifts and grooms longer length residential carpet fibers while simultaneously vibrating loose particulate. Choose a vacuum that can clean under beds. Appliance stores sell tools that will clean under and behind refrigerators and other appliances. Choose a vacuum that has extension tools to vacuum cobwebs in upper corners of rooms.
  • According to Michael Berry, PhD vacuum cleaners create more pollution than cars.
  • Concentrate cleaning efforts on where the soil is.
  • Upholstery fabrics are different than carpet fibers and need to be maintained and cleaned differently.
  • Attention to detail. Quality control from another set of eyes. Elbow grease. (Scott Armour’s secrets to cleaning)
  • It takes humility to make a checklist.
  • Improper cleaning poses risks to human health; cleaning is the first line of health defense.

 Z-Man signing off

Trivia question

Who coined the term “green washing”?

Answer: Jay Westervelt

The term greenwashing was coined by New York environmentalist Jay Westervelt in a 1986 essay regarding the hotel industry’s practice of placing placards in each room promoting reuse of towels ostensibly to “save the environment.”

Answered by: Charles Cassani, Restoration Management Company,