Building cleaner switches to ecological wetco line and cleaning with foam


“If an environmentally friendly cleaning product cleans just as effectively as a conventional product, and is also safer for staff to use, there should be no reason for any cleaning company to use a conventional product.”

At the beginning of 2021, the Basel building cleaning company Reif Facility Services AG changed its maintenance cleaning. Cleaning is now done with only four cleaning agents from the certified environmentally friendly wetco line, using the environmentally friendly foam cleaning method. We had the opportunity to look over the shoulder of the Reif team as they cleaned the St. Clara Church in Basel and to ask Managing Director Bekim Malici a few questions about the change. He told us why a maximum reduction in the number of cleaning agents increases quality, what positive effects the foam has on the health of the employees and the environment, and his perfect recipe for a successful company.

Mr. Malici, for one and a half years, your staff has been doing the maintenance cleaning with ecological cleaning agents – aren’t environmentally friendly cleaners incredibly expensive?
No, that view is outdated. Nowadays, there are cleaning products that are both environmentally friendly and affordable. Everything else is half-truths. That’s why, for maintenance cleaning, we consistently rely on the wetco cleaning product line from Wetrok. The cleaners from the wetco line are confirmed biodegradable, certified with the Nordic Ecolabel, and do not cost a fortune. In fact, we chose the wetco line precisely because we were looking for new cleaning products that are ecological AND inexpensive – the wetco line combines these two requirements perfectly.

Which products do you use?
We exclusively use four cleaning agents for maintenance cleaning: a floor cleaner (wetco floor), a surface cleaner (wetco surf), a glass cleaner (wetco cristal) and a sanitary cleaner (wetco san). That’s it – that’s all it takes. Provided, of course, that cleaning takes place regularly and the staff use the products correctly. When it comes to the latter, the wetco line really makes our everyday work much easier. By reducing the number of products to four, we were able to massively reduce the number of application errors – and that means we were also able to reduce costs for repair work or material damage. At the same time, of course, quality and customer satisfaction have increased.

Often, ecological cleaning agents are attributed with poor cleaning performance. How does the wetco line perform?
We have a quality promise to fulfil and only use cleaning products that guarantee immaculate cleanliness. The wetco line products produce the same cleaning result as non-certified cleaners. In addition, the line features impressively high application safety. So, if an environmentally friendly cleaning product cleans just as effectively as a conventional product, and is also safer for staff to use, there should be no reason for any cleaning company to use a conventional product. I am also mindful of the long-term economic concerns. Our customers are well-informed and increasingly demand products that carry an environmental label. As a good businessman, it does me no good in the long run if I clean with ultra-cheap cleaning products, but in the future I don’t get any more contracts because these products are not environmentally friendly.

Two of the wetco cleaning agents are foamable. That’s why you have switched the cleaning of your surfaces and sanitary facilities completely to foam. How does it work?
It’s very simple! Fill the foam bottle with water up to the lower mark, then with cleaning product up to the upper mark, close the bottle – and you are ready to go. If you squeeze the bottle gently, it produces a flowing foam that can be easily applied to a microfibre cloth for cleaning. The foam should be applied in the shape of a cross, as this is the optimum way to wet the cloth. We now clean all surfaces and sanitary facilities with foam.

How did you clean before and why were you looking for a new cleaning method?
Before the foam, we cleaned with a bucket and water or spray. Neither was satisfactory – with spraying, aerosol inhalation was a dangerous side effect, and with the bucket and water method, dosage was a constant issue. Many cleaners still adhere to the misconception that more cleaning product loosens more dirt. However, this is completely wrong – overdosage is dangerous on the one hand because it impairs tread safety, and on the other hand, it is costly because it causes layers to build up on the floor covering that can only be removed again by laborious deep cleaning. All these dangers and costs are no longer an issue thanks to foam cleaning.

Does the foam cleaning method offer any other advantages?
Absolutely! In addition to the significantly lower water and chemical consumption, we are particularly excited about the added value for our employees. They no longer have to lug heavy buckets, strain their joints wringing out cloths, or deal with complicated dosing solutions. In addition, the foam increases our work efficiency. We work faster because the dosing is ultra-fast and there is no need to wait for surfaces to dry afterwards.

How did you communicate the new cleaning procedure to your staff?
We carried out initial cleaning training in cooperation with the Wetrok field service. We demonstrated the procedure for cleaning with foam from A to Z. New staff members are continually trained by the facility managers, and in addition, we also have refresher training sessions.

Why is refresher training necessary?
There is one step that some staff members have not performed correctly for a long time. And that is that the foam must be applied to the cloth and not directly to the surface. There are qualitative reasons for this. If the foam is only applied to one stain on the surface, this stain will be removed – but then, in practice, the rest of the surface is often forgotten or not adequately cleaned. Little things like this need to be addressed over and over and repeated. The next scheduled refresher training will be conducted by our Wetrok field representative. We have found that some things are integrated more sustainably when they are demonstrated by external persons. That’s why we rely on a good mix of internal and external training, so that the information is established in the most sustainable way.

How is the cleaning done at the St. Clara Church?
Complete maintenance cleaning takes place once a week. We clean the limestone floors with wetco floor – in the central aisle with a scrubber-dryer, between the pews with mops, we clean the ceramic tiles and installations in the sanitary rooms with wetco san, the mosaic glass surfaces with wetco cristal and the remaining surfaces (lacquered wooden pews, lid of the baptismal font, etc.) with wetco surf. Supplementary deep cleaning takes place once a year.

What are the challenges of cleaning a church?
The church contains some old and very delicate materials that are difficult to replace. The cleaning agents must be correspondingly gentle. If a stained glass window is broken in a church, that is different than if a glass table is damaged in an office during cleaning. Carelessness would cost us dearly (grins).

There are hundreds of commercial cleaning companies in Switzerland – what sets you apart from other commercial cleaners or what distinguishes Reif AG?
We put people at the centre of all business decisions. For example, we pay our cleaners higher wages and offer more secure jobs than most of our competitors. After all, whether we are successful as a company is determined by our employees. If they feel valued and happy, they do a good job – which in turn satisfies our customers, and therefore has a direct influence on the success of our company. By providing regular further training, we additionally motivate our staff and thus ensure that their excellence and expertise remains with us in the company in the long term. Our longest-serving employee has been with us for 40 years. Fair wages, healthy working conditions and a collegial working atmosphere – that’s how you become successful, and stay that way.

Which regions does Reif AG operate in?
Our head office is located in Basel. For over 70 years, we have been providing all types of cleaning services in the Basel area – from maintenance cleaning to specialist cleaning. During that time, we have expanded our geographical radius and also have branches in the Zurich area and in western Switzerland.

What kind of buildings do your teams clean?
Basically everything – from classrooms to clean rooms. We are particularly proud to hold the contract for cleaning local churches and museums in the city of Basel. Our customers also include various renowned healthcare institutions.

Why do you buy your cleaning products from Wetrok?
I have been familiar with Wetrok products for a long time because I have worked with them at previous employers. I have been a Wetrok fan from the very beginning. No matter what the product, if Wetrok is on the label, you can rely on quality and durability. At Reif AG, we have a Wetrok single-brush machine that has been in use for 20 years and is still running – that speaks for itself, doesn’t it?