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Proving Cleaning Efficacy through Science & Measurement

Integrated Cleaning & Measurement™ (ICM) programme introduced by the International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA) is an open-source system in which “best practices” are defined by scientific measurement of cleaning outcomes. More about the system.

What is ICM?

Integrated Cleaning and Measurement (ICM) is an open-source system in which “best practices” are defined by scientific measurement of cleaning outcomes.

What is meant by “open-source”?

Simply stated: ICM is open to product substitution. That means the best-practice tools and processes are acceptable within the ICM system regardless of the source, provided they can provide measurement data showing their effectiveness when compared to other methods.

Why is measurement a main component of ICM?

The professionalism of the cleaning industry, with resulting positive impacts on pay scales, can best be achieved via measurement of specific results and outcomes. While a clean facility appearance is the starting point, measurement enables tracking the removal of a growing list of unseen contaminants that can impact health and thus affect broader business, public welfare and safety issues.

What types of measurement are now possible?

Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) detection devices, fungal enzyme, RODAC plate, petri dish and agar media, particle counter, airborne dust mass, infrared/moisture detection, and other device and measurement platforms are becoming increasingly available, portable, and affordable.

What types of measurement are still in the future?

The practical ability to monitor the air, water and surfaces for a specific type of particle, microbe, VOC or chemical contaminant and understanding the full implications of such testing is, for the most part, yet in the future. For example, we cannot yet economically test for dust particles containing pesticides and understand the specific associated health impacts, although we can test to determine total airborne dust.

Why is ICM important?

ICM is a leadership system that embraces best practices as determined by scientific measurement of outcomes, and thus levels the playing field of cleaning product and process selection using science as the main criterion for inclusion.

What cleaning systems will be replaced by ICM?

ICM by definition is an enhancement system, not a replacement system. All viable systems whether Green Cleaning, Day Cleaning, Team Cleaning, Zone Cleaning, and so on can be enhanced by ICM, that is, they can be ICM-compatible provided they utilize measurement as the basis for incorporating products and processes.

Who will do the measurement?

Depending on the type of measurement required, persons measuring outcomes may range from custodians to facilities managers to public health scientists. For example: Handheld ATP devices are simple to use and with limited training can be employed by an average cleaning worker to determine the presence of organic (germ-promoting) soil on surfaces. Particle counters can be used by lay persons to assess whether or not a vacuum cleaner is leaking dust in the inhalable particle-size range, etc.

Who will police or monitor the system?

Like other open-source systems (think of Linux in the computer field) the development and “policing” of ICM will be driven by both the industry community and experts who will be looking at the data and outcomes, keeping the process (and players) honest and transparent. The International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA), a Columbus-OH based non-profit founded in 1930, will administer the ICM Programme and promote its ongoing development.

What types of integration are part of ICM?

The foundational tenet of ICM is integration in all its forms. The initial point of integration will be between appearance cleaning and health-oriented cleaning that is, facilities must not only look clean and healthy, but ideally, they must actually be clean and healthy as evidenced by the proven and measured removal of unwanted both seen and unseen matter.

However, it doesn’t stop there. Effective systems integrate in a variety of ways and across a number of fronts when they are comprehensive and synergistic; thus ICM, over time, will by definition include integration of:


  • Green Cleaning with Day Cleaning
  • Green Cleaning with Team Cleaning
  • Team Cleaning with Day Cleaning
  • Facility Management and Maintenance with Housekeeping Departments
  • Hospital Infection Control Departments with Housekeeping Departments
  • And many other sectors and combinations where “silos” or “disintegration” exists

In short, ICM strives to create unification of elements rather than separation or ‘silo thinking’ and to use measurement as the way to define and interpret success. It is, however, a journey not a destination, and integration/ unification/measurement can be developed and improved indefinitely.

Will ICM work with CIMS?

ICM is designed to work with ISSA’s Cleaning Industry Management Standard (CIMS.) In fact, it is recommended that before embarking on any ICM programme, that facilities management participate in CIMS training. CIMS can provide the management framework and business platform to ensure the success of an ICM programme.

How will ICM affect the way the public views the cleaning industry, and how they buy cleaning services?

The ultimate goal is that we as an industry will be able to successfully connect measurable contaminant levels with measurable health outcomes and measurable fiscal impacts (examples: lowering surface bioburden in healthcare leading to reduced nosocomial infections and healthcare costs by a specific percentage; reducing airborne particles in schools leading to fewer allergies and asthma attacks and increased attendance), so that cleaning will be evaluated and purchased based as much on health outcomes and real business impact, as it is now mostly based on whether or not the facility looks and smells clean for the lowest price possible.

What related fields provide a pattern to follow?

Most cleaning results measurement is now occurring in the fields of foodservice safety (e.g., using ATP to measure cleanliness of kitchens), mold and water damage restoration (using fungal and moisture detection methods), and other fields where verification is considered important.

What related fields provide tools to help develop ICM?

Infection control in healthcare, industrial hygiene, and remediation disciplines are among the key sources of ICM system and measurement development.

How will ICM affect the cleaning industry as a whole?

As we scrutinise and improve what we are actually doing, the resulting positive health and operational impacts – and publicising of these successes – will raise the level of respect the public has for commercial cleaning. At least, that is a long-term goal; one that we believe is achievable.

Who will be opposed to this approach?

Probably, nobody will oppose a sensible, science-based approach. However, initially products and processes that will not withstand scrutiny will be most sensitive and vulnerable. Proponents of these less-effective methods have much to lose if they do nothing, or much to gain by paying attention and acting appropriately.

How will ICM work with CIRI?

The further development of the Cleaning Industry Research Institute (CIRI) International will increasingly highlight the importance of integrating cleaning with measurement for the betterment of public health and, in fact, the entire cleaning industry. ICM will be fueled and driven by the efforts of CIRI and similar organisations

Laura M. DiGiulio,
International Executive Housekeepers Association

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