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Dorm Crew Tests High-Tech Cleaning Fluid

By Samuel E. Stone, Crimson Staff Writer

Harvard Dorm Crew has begun using a new cleaning fluid safe enough to drink yet powerful enough to clean in some undergraduate residencies.

The cleaning fluids, manufactured by EcoLogic Solutions, are 99.9 percent water. Instead of containing typical chemicals that can be harmful when ingested, the products are largely composed of saltwater that has undergone electrolysis to give it strong detergent and disinfectant properties.

Dorm Crew and Facilities Maintenance Office personnel alike have begun to utilize the chemicals in some locations in the Houses and in the Yard as part of a pilot program launched last December.

The Electrical Chemical Activation products that Harvard has begun using are as effective as or more effective than traditional cleaning products and have been previously used in industrial roles, according to EcoLogic spokesperson Jake Robertson.

“Efficacy is one of our top priorities because if the products aren’t effective they wouldn’t be competitive with the more traditional offerings,” he said. “[These products are] currently being used in Amtrak facilities to wipe diesel sludge off their cars.”

According to EcoLogic’s website, purchasers of their technology can simply install an EcoLogic machine on site, which allows them to continuously produce more cleaning product by combining a few basic ingredients and allowing the machine to perform the necessary electrolysis.

Harvard’s EcoLogic machine is located in the basement of Straus Hall, where the fluid is produced.

EcoLogic Solutions, founded by CEO Anselm Doering in his apartment in 2005, has grown into a company that now produces over 100 cleaning products, all of which are “green,” according to the company’s website.

Prior to the introduction of the new products, Dorm Crew captains were afforded the opportunity to meet with a representative from EcoLogic to discuss the benefits of the new products and instructions for best use.

Paul L. Belmonte ’10, a Dorm Crew supervisor, stressed the importance of sustainability in the cleaning efforts of Dorm Crew and the Facilities Maintenance Office.

“FMO has been Green Seal certified since 2011, a prestigious certification in the cleaning industry which means, in a nutshell, that we uphold sustainable cleaning practices that are friendly to the environment and human health,” Belmonte said.

Belmonte also explained that the national cleaning industry is moving towards more sustainable practices in general.

“The cleaning industry has been trending green for several years, which means we’ve had an increasingly wide variety of green cleaning products to look at,” he said.

The use of the EcoLogic chemicals across College residences will depend upon the results of the current trial period, Belmonte said.

Robertson, the EcoLogic spokesperson, expressed hope that partnership with Harvard could help accelerate the expansion of EcoLogic’s new sustainable products.

“If we’re able to show that this technology works for Harvard, it could be the tipping point for other universities using it,” he said. “We’re hoping to make it work and incite change, starting in Harvard Yard.”

—Staff writer Samuel E. Stone can be reached at samuelstone@college.harvard.edu.

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