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Understanding the GHS – Frequently Asked Questions

The Globally Harmonised System (GHS) is now in full swing in NSW, QLD, NT, SA and TAS after the states transitioned, 1st January 2017. The new system has meant big changes to the classification, labelling and communicating of hazardous products.

Agar has carefully examined the classification standard, and re-assessed all of its products. Accordingly, the majority of its commercial cleaning products are now classified as hazardous whereas previously only about 50 percent were. This has left businesses and cleaners alike confused about the risks associated with using cleaning chemicals and their responsibilities in becoming GHS compliant. To assist customers in understanding the new GHS system, Agar has put together some frequently asked questions to clarify uncertainty and outline what actions they need to take to be GHS compliant.

Good to know:

  • If the cleaning products available at the supermarkets were sold in bulk containers for commercial use, they too would be covered by the GHS and would be mostly classified as hazardous.
  • The GHS includes mild hazards not previously recorded under past systems, such as the irritation to skin which can occur after prolonged contact with a detergent.
  • The hazards labelled on bottles are for the concentrated product, the diluted solution is often much milder, and in some cases not hazardous at all.
  • The risks of using hazardous products can greatly be avoided through correct handling, following safety procedures and wearing personal protective equipment such as gloves and glasses, which the majority of cleaners already do.
  • Product risk assessments, available in the member’s area of the Agar website, are a great resource for understanding how to manage the risks of using cleaning chemicals.

What is the GHS?

The Globally Harmonised System (GHS) is an international system designed to unify the classification and communication of chemical hazards throughout the world. It uses new hazard assessment criteria to classify chemicals as either hazardous or non-hazardous. The GHS uses signal words, pictograms, hazard statements and precautionary statements to communicate the risks of hazardous products. The GHS system only applies to products sold for use in the workplace.

What states are using the GHS?

  • NSW, QLD, NT, SA and TAS
  • VIC is expected to convert 1/7/2017
  • WA permits the use of GHS and/or the old system at this time

When is the GHS effective?

  • 1st January 2017 – NSW, QLD, NT, SA and TAS
  • 1st July 2017 – VIC (proposed date – yet to be confirmed)
  • WA and ACT – no date has been announced

How does the GHS affect my business?

If you are operating in the states which have implemented the GHS (NSW, QLD, NT, SA and TAS) you will need to ensure that your business is GHS compliant. To be GHS compliant you must ensure:

  • All cleaning chemicals onsite have current GHS Safety Data Sheets (SDS’s). Agar’s can be found here
  • All new cleaning chemicals purchased, that are manufactured after 1/1/2017, have GHS labels.
  • All new decanting containers manufactured and labelled after 1/1/2017 must have GHS compliant labels. Screen printed bottles, purchased or manufactured before 1/1/2017, can continue to be sold and used after this date.
  • While not a requirement for GHS compliance, customers that keep product risk assessments on site for hazardous chemicals will need to obtain them for the newly classified hazardous products. These can be found in the member’s area of Agar’s website – note you must login to the Agar site to access this page.

How do I tell if a product is GHS compliant?

Only hazardous products are required to carry the new GHS labels and have GHS SDS’s. To identify if the product is hazardous and GHS compliant you will need to look out for the following things on the label and SDS:

  • Signal Word (either WARNING or DANGER)
  • Hazard Statements such as: ‘May be harmful if swallowed’ or ‘Causes skin irritation’.
  • Pictogram (not all hazardous products are required to have a pictogram depending on the severity of the hazard).

These items will be found on both product labels and SDS’s as shown below:

Once Off Label 2

The format of Agar’s SDS’s has changed with GHS. This is an easy way to tell if you have the updated SDS, however it is always best to look for the signal word, pictogram and hazard statements found under Section 2 on the first page.


SDS Changes 2

Are products more hazardous now that they are classified under GHS?

No, the product formulations have remained the same, it’s the hazardous classification that has changed. The products are no more dangerous or harmful than before the GHS. Under the GHS, risks that were not previously recognised are now being classified as a hazard. An example of this would be Agar’s hair and bodywash detergent, Ambergold. Under the previous system Ambergold was not classified as hazardous, however under the GHS it is. GHS recognises that getting the shampoo in your eyes or leaving the concentrated product on your skin for an extended period of time would cause irritation and as such it is labelled as a hazard.

How can I tell the severity of the risk?

There are a few ways to identify the severity of the hazard for a chemical.

  1. The signal word used: DANGER denotes a higher risk than WARNING.
  2. Hazard statements. These go up in severity from mild to severe: ‘Causes mild skin irritation’, ‘Causes skin irritation’, ‘Causes severe skin burns and eye damage’.
  3. Pictograms: The ‘Harmful’ pictogram communicates a milder hazard than ‘Corrosive’ or ‘Health Hazard’.


Hazard Pictograms

Understanding Pictograms

The pictograms present on the label communicate the most severe warning from the product. A corrosive symbol on a label does not necessarily mean that the product will burn the skin, rather it might be there to highlight the possible effects that the concentrated product could have if it was to come in direct contact with the eyes. It is also important to note that this doesn’t necessarily mean that the product will definitely cause reactions such as severe eye damage, rather that it is a possible risk.

Agar’s manual dishwashing liquid Lift is a good example of this. It carries the corrosive pictogram to communicate that the concentrated product may cause serious eye damage, however that does not mean that it will have the same effects on the skin. Unlike strong acids that can potentially burn the skin, Lift might cause irritation to the skin after prolonged contact with the undiluted product.

It is important to note that these hazards are often easily neutralised through using the chemicals correctly and wearing personal protective equipment (PPE).  The hazards listed on the product label are for the concentrated product, not the diluted version which will generally have a much milder risk or no recorded risk at all.

Is it safe to use hazardous products?

Yes, hazardous products are still safe to use however, like all cleaning products, they must be handled with care, especially the concentrated products directly from the bottles. Always follow the instructions and safety guidelines, use the correct PPE and read the SDS before use.

The GHS provides an opportunity to re-think our attitude to all chemicals. Whilst they’re an important ‘tool’ for our cleaning tasks, they need to be treated with respect and we need to be aware of any risks they pose, including minor risks such as skin irritation.

Can I still use the old products I have that don’t have GHS labels?

Yes, you can continue to store and use products manufactured and purchased prior to 1/1/2017 that do not have GHS labels. You will need to get an updated GHS SDS for them however

What if someone tries to sell me a product that does not have a GHS label?

Safe Work Australia released a statement in November 2016 outlining that suppliers could continue to sell products without GHS labels that were manufactured before 1/1/2017. This was to reduce the workload on manufacturers and suppliers so that they didn’t have to relabel products already labelled under the old system.

If the product has a manufacturing date after 1/1/2017, is classified as hazardous under GHS and your workplace is in the GHS compliant states of NSW, QLD, NT, SA and TAS and it is NOT carrying a GHS label then do NOT purchase it. It is your business’s responsibility to ensure that it is GHS compliant and as such, your business’s responsibility to ensure that it only purchases GHS compliant products.

A pH neutral product I thought was safe now has a corrosive pictogram on it. Is it still safe to use?

corrosiveIn the past the ‘Corrosive 8’ symbol was used exclusively with Dangerous Goods products and was generally reserved for chemicals such as strong acids that could cause severe burns to the skin. A similar symbol is now also used to communicate corrosive products under the GHS and appears on some pH neutral products that have been newly classified as hazardous, causing some alarm and confusion.

The GHS corrosive pictogram is used to communicate the effects a product may have on the skin, eyes and surfaces. In the case of pH neutral cleaning products, the effect on the skin may be mild and for surfaces it might be nil, but it could potentially damage the eyes if the concentrated product were to come into contact with them. It is important to remember that the GHS uses a very conservative approach to classifying risks. These neutral products will not cause severe burns to the skin on contact and are still safe to use. Care should be taken during dilution and safety glasses should be worn to ensure that the product doesn’t get into the eyes. As you can expect, most people already do this.

Does GHS mean changes for Dangerous Goods freight?

No, the Dangerous Goods Act remains the same and is still used for storage, handling and transport. The Dangerous Goods symbols used on some of Agar’s products can be seen below.

Dangerous Goods Diamonds

If a product is classified as hazardous under GHS, is it then considered to be Dangerous Goods?

No, Hazardous refers to a product’s effects on health and the environment while Dangerous Goods focuses on immediate danger that a substance presents during storage, handling and transport. Both systems are in operation together.

If a product has the signal word ‘DANGER’ on it, does that mean that it is classified as Dangerous Goods?

No, the signal word ‘DANGER’ corresponds with the GHS hazardous classification and labelling, NOT Dangerous Goods. A product that is classified as Dangerous Goods will have a Dangerous Goods diamond (pictured above) on the label.

Should I stop using a product which was previously non-hazardous but is now classified as hazardous under GHS?

No, the product and any inherent danger has not changed. The GHS now provides a framework for recognising minor risks which were previously not considered or ignored. You may wish to introduce additional PPE or modify procedures, based on the outcome of your risk assessment.

Please contact your Agar Distributor or Representative if you have any questions about the GHS labels.

GHS Implementation – Information for Customers

You may now be aware of the upcoming changes to the classification and labelling of cleaning products as the majority of States in Australia transition to the Globally Harmonized System for the Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS), which becomes mandatory in most states from 1st January 2017.

The GHS is an international system, designed to unify the classification and communication of chemical hazards throughout the world using new hazard assessment criteria, and consistent information and pictograms on product labels and safety data sheets (SDS). The system only applies to chemicals used in the workplace and does not include those sold to the domestic market.

As it stands all states in Australia, excluding Western Australia, ACT and Victoria, will be transitioning to the GHS at the beginning of next year. Victoria is likely to transition on 1st July 2017.

GHS Overview

  • New system for classifying chemicals and communicating hazards and precautions
  • NSW, QLD, NT, SA, TAS transitioning 1st January 2017
  • Victoria expected to transition 1st July 2017
  • Affects classification of cleaning products – many more will be classified as hazardous
  • SDSs and product labels will change with the addition of pictograms, Signal Words, Hazard Statements and Precautionary Statements

Agar Cleaning Systems has been working tirelessly to implement the GHS changes to ensure its clients are ready well before the January deadline. By partnering with Agar, customers have always been safe in the knowledge that they are compliant in chemical management. Agar will endeavour to assist all customers with their transition to the new system by providing relevant technical support and information. Below are the main changes to be aware of with the inception of GHS.

Hazardous Products Classification

Firstly, the system will reclassify which chemicals are deemed as hazardous under stricter criteria. This means that the majority of commercial cleaning products will now be classified as hazardous including the likes of hair shampoo and manual dishwashing liquid. Please note that the products are staying the same: it’s only the hazard criteria that is changing. Under the new rules for classification, minor hazards which were not recognised under previous regulations, will now be identified.

An example of this would be repeatedly using a detergent, currently classed non-hazardous, with a sponge whilst not wearing gloves. This is not healthy for the skin and can lead to dryness and further issues. This is not recognised under the existing rules because the detergent is not currently classified as hazardous. GHS recognises the risk to the skin in this situation, considers it a hazard, and will require a warning. The situation however is easily dealt with by wearing gloves, which the cleaning staff are likely to already be doing.

The implication of this is that virtually all chemicals will require a risk assessment to be completed before use and a record kept on site.

Hazard Communication

Under the GHS, hazards and precautions will be communicated on SDSs and labels using Signal Words, Hazard Statements and Precautionary Statements.


Pictograms will be used to visually communicate hazards on labels and SDSs. Examples of the pictograms that will be found on some of Agar’s labels are supplied below. Please note not all hazardous products require a pictogram. Those that are deemed mild enough can be labelled without them.

Signal Words

Found on product labels and SDSs, each hazardous product will now be classified under one of the two signal words: Warning and Danger. Warning will categorise the lower risk and Danger the higher.

Hazard Statements

The Hazard Statement details the nature of the chemical’s hazard and its degree of severity. Hazards include those that affect health, physical safety and the environment. Examples include: ‘causes mild skin irritation’ and ‘causes serious eye irritation’.

Precautionary Statements

Precautionary statements are found below Hazard Statements on the SDS and include four headings: Prevention, Response, Storage and Disposal. ‘Prevention’, which outlines measures to take to reduce the risk of the hazard and ‘Response’, which refers to first aid advice, will be found on every SDS. ‘Storage’ and ‘Disposal’ information will only be found on products where this information is required.


Examples of GHS Pictograms found on some of Agar labels



Product Labels

With the introduction of GHS, the majority of Agar’s product labels will change to include the hazard/precautionary information and pictograms. Agar is currently in the process of updating all its labels and is on track to have these released well in advance of 1st January 2017. Please note that Safe Work Australia released a statement in November allowing products manufactured prior to GHS inception to continue to be sold with labels applicable to their time of manufacturing.  All new products manufactured after 1st January 2017 must be sold with GHS labels.

Dispenser bottles will also be updated to reflect the changes. It is important to note that end user clients do not need to replace labels or throw out dispenser bottles carrying the old information.

Safety Data Sheets (SDS)

The GHS SDSs will include new pictograms, signal words, hazard statements and precautionary statements, and will see Agar’s SDSs expand from its standard two pages to five-six pages.

All of Agar’s GHS SDSs can be found here


Safety Data Sheet Layout Changing Under GHS



Agar would like to thank all its valued clients with for their patience during this process. For further information on Agar’s transition to GHS, please contact your local Agar office.

How to Maintain Carpets in Commercial Buildings

Carpet represents a major investment in a commercial property and as such should be well maintained in order to extend its appearance and lifespan. We all know that regular cleaning is important to help refresh carpets, but how can you ensure that you are doing your best to protect your client’s assets and uphold a standard of cleanliness?

Crank up the vacuum

While vacuuming might be the most obvious step to maintaining carpet, it is also the most important. Dirt transferred from shoes can quickly become embedded in the fibres where traffic is present. Regular vacuuming can lift out that soil and stop it from transferring to the rest of the carpet, causing discolouration. For large areas with different levels of traffic, draw up a schedule outlining how frequently the carpet should be vacuumed. Areas of heavy traffic should be cleaned more often to keep up the appearance of the carpet.

To speed up the process of vacuum cleaning large, heavy traffic areas regularly, consider investing in high powered machines that reduce the amount of back and forth strokes and get the job done quicker. When selecting vacuums; do your research, ask for referrals, do instore trials, get the numbers on wattage, capacity and warranty. Regularly changing filters is also important so make sure that you speak to your supplier about the frequency that this should be completed.

Traffic Location Vacuuming Frequency

Vacuuming Frequency V2

Make the most of mats

Entrance mats can help extend the life of carpets and improve their appearance by capturing dirt that is bought in from the outside world. According to the online cleaning resource CleanLink, between 70-80% of dirt inside a building is tracked in from people’s feet (Zudonyi, 2015). Matting systems extending five metres are now able to remove up to 85-95% of that soil with sophisticated designs that work to actually scrub the soles of shoes clean (Zudonyi, 2015). Utilising a three mat system will provide a good defence against outside soil and help to extend the life of the carpet. Start with a scraper mat first to remove large particles from shoes, followed by a scraper and wiper mat to continue the clean and finish with a straight wiper mat to capture any lasting moisture off shoes (Zudonyi, 2015).

Boost up your carpet’s defence

Protector 5LSpecial products can be sprayed onto new carpets (or those that have just been hot water extraction cleaned) to create a barrier around the fibres and protect them from soil. Agar has developed a product called Protector which, based on Fluoropolymer technology, invisibly seals carpet to stop dirt and stains from penetrating the fibres. Using Protector on carpet allows spillages to be blotted up before stains occur, keeping them fresh and clean.

Spot treat stains immediately

The longer spills are left on the carpet, the more likely they are to cause a permanent stain. The best solution for treating spots is to act quickly to remove it before it sets in. Before you get spotting, you need to work out what the spill is, then refer to the Agar Carpet Spot Removal Guide to find out which spotter is best to use. It’s important to know that while there are some excellent multi-purpose spotters out there (such as Spot Wiz) some stains are best treated with a specifically formulated product. Below is a list of common spills and the products to use to clean them, as well as a guide for how to clean spots. For complete and specific instructions for how to use a product to treat a spot, please view its product data sheets.

Which products to use

Agar has compiled a compact list of spotters, perfect for cleaning contractors, venues and property managers to have on hand in the event of a carpet spill.

Spotter Selection Chart

Carpet Spotter Chart V4For a full guide to Agar’s extended range of spotters, please view the Carpet Spot Removal Guide (you must be logged in to view this guide in the Member’s Area).

How to treat a spill or spot

1. Act quickly

Ninety percent of all spillages can be removed completely if immediate action is taken. If a spilled material reacts chemically with the dye of the carpet a permanent stain will result and the only way to overcome this problem is to use Coffee Stain Remover to bleach the affected area or replace this piece of carpet.

2. Absorb all liquids and vacuum all solids

Absorb spilt liquids with a layer of tissues one centimetre thick or with cloth, paper towels or a clean sponge. Scrape up or vacuum solid soilage before applying spotter.

3. Use lukewarm water

When water is needed, do not use hot water as this may set the stain, making it more difficult to remove.

4. Pre-test

Refer to the Agar Carpet Spotting Chart to help you choose the right product for removing all kinds of stains. Pre-test the spotting chemicals on an inconspicuous section of the carpet to ensure that they will not affect the different colour dyes in the carpet.

5. How to spot clean

Apply small amounts of the spotter and blot stained area. Do not over-wet the carpet as this may leave ring marks and do not rub or brush the pile as this may result in unsightly fuzzing or other distortion. Work from the outer edge towards the centre of the stain and allow the spotter plenty of time to react with the staining material. “Feather” around the area by dabbing the edges more lightly than the centre. After the spotter chemical has released the stain it must be removed from the carpet by absorbing it into a cloth or absorbent paper. Then the area should be rinsed with clean water.

6. Dry the carpet

After thorough blotting, apply a thick layer of dry absorbent material and place a weight on this layer. Allow several hours for the area to dry, or use a fan to dry the cleaned area.

7. Care when using carpet spotters

Some solvent spotters are flammable. Always stop anyone smoking, turn off heaters and pilot lights, turn off the television and open the windows when using solvents. Read the Material Safety Data Sheets. G-Solve can attack latex-backed carpet tiles. Use caution when spot-cleaning carpets with latex or tar backing as these materials may dissolve in the spotter and be carried onto carpet fibres. Use only small amounts of spotter and blot frequently to avoid over-wetting the carpet. Solvent spotters should not be allowed to soak into the backing of any carpet as they may un-glue the secondary backing. Use solvents sparingly.

Don’t Avoid Professional Cleans

Keeping carpet in tip top condition no doubt requires regular professional cleans, but how often and what type of cleaning should you choose?

Full Cleans

Hot Water Extraction (HWE)
Sometimes mistakenly referred to as steam cleaning, HWE is the most popular method of professional cleaning. Providing the deepest clean, HWE can be completed using two different methods. The first option involves filling the machine tank with hot water and carpet cleaning detergent which is sprayed onto the carpet through solution jets at the base of the wand. The solution is then extracted out through the wand with a concentrated vacuum.

The second option is to pre-spray the carpet with a solution of carpet cleaning detergent and water. Once pre-sprayed, plain hot water is sprayed onto the carpet through the HWE machine which effectively cleans and rinses the carpet at the same time. The Australian Standard for carpet cleaning (AS/NZS 3733) recommends the pre-spray method as it minimises detergent residue on the carpet however carpet cleaners need to be careful not to over wet the carpet if using this method.

HWE cleans can take up to 24 hours to completely dry and it is recommended that carpets aren’t walked on while wet. Air movement can help speed up drying time and dispel odours. Carpets must be thoroughly vacuumed before being cleaned.

Maintenance Cleans

The below professional carpet cleaning methods work mainly on the upper fibres of carpet. They tend to use minimal water, making the carpets quicker to dry but are less effective at removing deeper soil. Before you use these methods make sure you vacuum the carpets thoroughly and check with the manufacture’s warranty to ensure that they are permitted.

Bonnet Cleaning/Dry Cleaning

Fast drying, cost effective method best for maintenance cleans, Bonnet Cleaning uses a rotary machine that buffs the carpet with a pad soaked in cleaning product solution.  Doesn’t remove the same amount of soil as the HWE method.


Cap-It-Off 5LA similar method to bonnet cleaning, encapsulation uses a rotary cleaner to work a special carpet cleaning product, Agar’s Cap-It-Off, into the carpet to break down soils and encapsulate them into crystal particles. The dirt now trapped in the crystals can then be vacuumed up. The method uses relatively low amounts of water, dries quickly and is a good choice for maintenance cleans.




Professional Cleaning Frequency

Carpet Cleaning Frequency V2Make sure you create a schedule to keep track of when and where professional cleans are required.


Check the warranty details for your carpet before you begin any cleaning schedule or maintenance work. Some manufacturers may request the use of specific cleaning methods and frequency levels to maintain the warranty. They also might stipulate that other methods, such as bonnet cleaning, are not used or the warranty might be void.

Zudonyi, C, 2015, Mats That Are Necessary For Every Program, CleanLink. Available from: <–18820#sthash.j5l1xnOi.dpuf> [12 May 2016].

Upcoming changes to Agar’s Safety Data Sheets (SDS) & Product Labels

Over the coming year Agar Cleaning Systems will be altering its Hazardous Safety Data Sheets (SDS) and some of its hazardous product labels to comply with the new format called the Globally Harmonized System (GHS).

The GHS is an internationally agreed system designed to unify the range of diverse systems of classification and hazard communication currently used throughout the world. Manufacturers and importers of non-retail hazardous chemicals will need to re-classify and re-label them while all SDSs for hazardous products will need to be updated to meet the new requirements.

The GHS is intended to improve international health and safety outcomes through the use of consistent hazardous communication. Product hazards will be communicated through a set of symbols and signal words as well as hazard statements and precautionary statements.

The transition to the new system for hazardous products must be completed by 1 January 2017 in most states of Australia. Over the coming year, Agar will be reclassifying and relabelling some of its hazardous products as well as updating all of its hazardous Safety Data Sheets.

What changes will Agar be making? –GHS SDS

1. Agar will be changing its HAZARDOUS products’ SDS into GHS format and into a new design (pictured right). The non-hazardous products already have the GHS information and Agar will not be changing the design.

2. Hazardous product labels will not change to GHS unless they are on products that will not be sold to retail consumers. The GHS system applies to products that are sold into and used in the workplace only. Products that are sold via retail and distributors will keep the same design as the current labels. i.e., conform with the SUSMP (Standard for the Uniform Scheduling of Medicines and Poisons) which controls labelling of poisons in the retail area. So, for example, Agar will change the labels on Hook Clean and Concrete Clean 200L, but not DLX 5L.

Key Points of the GHS-

What is the GHS?
Set up by the United Nations (UN), the GHS is an internationally unified system for classifying and labelling hazardous products and communicating their associated risks.

What will it affect?
Product classification, product labels and Safety Data Sheets.

When will it take effect?
All hazardous products should be transitioned over to the new GHS by 1 January 2017.

Safe Work Australia, Globally Harmonised System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS). Available from: <> [19 November 2015]

Blog Article – Microfibre, Friend or Foe?

Microfibre has been gaining speed in the cleaning industry since its initial adoption at the end of the 20th century. Now a household and commercial favourite, this popular material is used to produce a host of different cleaning tools including cloths, mops and mitts (you can even get couches made out of microfibre). Touted as one of the biggest and best cleaning breakthroughs of our time, Agar asks, is it as good as it seems?

Microfibre’s main claim to fame is its ability to clean without the use of chemicals. The unique structure of the fibres allows it to capture soil, liquids and bacteria far better than natural fibres. Traditional cleaning cloths have fibres that are shaped like a cylinder and have a tendency to push dirt and moisture around, requiring a scooping technique to remove soil. Blended microfibre is shaped like an asterisk (*) and has the ability to pick up and lock in dirt, dust and moisture into the fibres, to clean and dry the surface.

The material is highly absorbent, made from a combination of polyamide (nylon) and polyester fibres, they are able to soak up both solids and liquids. Around 100 times finer than a human hair, microfibres can also reach into tiny cracks and crevices in a surface and scoop up bacteria. Furthermore, microfibre is positively charged which allows it to attract and capture dust, making the cleaning process quicker and faster.

Microfiber Diagram V2

The claim that microfibre has the ability to disinfect surfaces by removing bacteria and soil has resulted in some households and commercial enterprises shifting to chemical-free cleaning. While the benefits of microfibre are clear, there is research to suggest that its cleaning power is reduced over the life of the cloth, which may result in a higher turnover of cleaning equipment and decrease its status as an environmental saviour. Furthermore, disinfecting microfibre is problematic and can pose real problems when used as a sole tool for reducing microbes in sensitive environments such as hospitals.

The pitfalls of microfibre

1. Bacteria gets locked inside

As previously discussed, the cleaning power of microfibre is greatly attributed to its ability to capture and absorb a greater amount of soil and liquid than regular cleaning material. This feature, however, has its downsides as the bacteria can be very difficult to release from the microfibres once captured. The cloths can only absorb so much soil before they become ‘full’ and thus must undergo effective laundering in order to release the bacteria. If the cloths are not cleaned properly they lose their ability to pick up further soil and can potentially transmit bacteria previously held within the fibres. This problem is made worse by the delicate nature of the fibres and the limited options available for safe laundering.

koli-bacteria-123081_640Research has been conducted into the decontamination capacity of cleaning cloths including microfibre, cotton, sponges, and disposable paper towels which are commonly used in hospitals. One study examined each cloth’s ability to remove microbial loads from surfaces when new and after being laundered 10 and 20 times at 90°C for five minutes in a washing machine (Diab-Elschahawi et al. 2010). The results concluded that microfibre cloths achieved the best results when being used in new condition, however, after multiple reprocessing, cotton cloths showed the best overall efficacy (Diab-Elschahawi et al. 2010).

The warm and soiled environment of cleaning cloths provides a breeding ground for bacteria to feed and multiply. Studies into microfibre’s reluctance to release bacteria during laundering has resulted in both silver and triclosan being embedded into the cleaning cloths to kill bacteria.

Another 2013 study published in the American Journal of Infection Control titled “Microbial Contamination of Hospital Reusable Cleaning Towels” revealed that 93 percent of the reusable hospital cleaning cloths tested contained bacteria including E.coli, total coliforms and Klebsiella after laundering (Sifuentes et al. 2013). The cloths tested included cotton and microfibre and led the researchers to conclude that regular hospital laundering processes were insufficient in disinfecting cloths (Sifuentes et al. 2013).

In order to sustain microfibre’s effectiveness, the cloths would need to be regularly replaced or disposable microfibre cloths would need to be adopted, greatly impacting its sustainability claims.

2. Safe and effective laundering

Made from petrochemicals, microfibre fabric is essentially plastic and can easily melt or be damaged when heated. While natural cotton cloths are well suited to handle bleach and heat high enough to disinfect, effectively sanitising and preserving microfibre cloths poses a problem. There is a range of conflicting information available on how to safely launder microfibre, with the normal recommendations set out below. These practices may not be effective in completely removing soil or bacteria from the cloths.

  • Use liquid detergent and cold to warm water
  • Hang them up to air-dry
  • Never use hot water or hot tumble-drying
  • Never use fabric softener or BLEACH
  • Never wash with clothes or other fabrics: they will attract lint and it will be very hard to remove

With these restrictions on laundering microfibre cloths, how can we be certain that they are going to be completely sanitised before returning to use?

3. Soil particles could get locked in

Similar to the issue with bacteria, microfibre’s extreme absorbency means that it is very difficult to clean completely, resulting in the possibility of dirt particles remaining locked in the fibres. The cloths may begin to look dirty and stained, even after they’ve been washed, and can risk scratching surfaces if grit is left behind in the weaves.

4. Oil removal may not be complete

Detergents can suspend solid particles, emulsify oils and fats and prevent re-deposition of soil onto the surface. Microfibres cannot achieve all of these functions, rather they tend to smear oils and fats across a surface. Over time, this can lead to a build-up of fatty matter on the surfaces. This can provide a breeding ground for bacteria and it may require a stronger detergent to remove it and rectify this problem.

5. They release microfibres into the ocean

loggerhead-turtle-123402_640Microfibre cloths are made from petro-chemicals that are non-renewable and non-biodegradable. Scientific research has found that every time a synthetic-fibre piece of clothing is laundered, 1900 tiny pieces of microfibres are released, ultimately ending up in the ocean (O’Connor, 2014). Too small to capture, the same thing would occur when washing microfibre cloths. Numerous studies have shown that small organisms readily ingest microplastics (microfibre is made from the same ingredients as plastic), introducing toxic pollutants to the food chain (O’Connor, 2014).

What can you use instead?

Surfaces that need to be disinfected may find that using a disinfectant together with a natural fibre cloth is more effective in the long term. Reusable, biodegradable cloths and mops are a better solution for the sustainability of landfill and waterways. Cotton and cellulose materials are made from plant-based fibres and have the ability to break down naturally. They can be easily washed using biodegradable detergents and disinfected using heat during the laundering process.

Save microfibre for the jobs where nothing else will work and ensure that sufficient disinfection procedures are put in place to sustain their cleaning power and protect surfaces from reinfection.

Diab-Elschahawi, M, Assadian, O, Blacky, A, Stadler, M, Pernicka, E, Berger, J, Resch, H & Koller, W 2010, ‘Evaluation of the decontamination efficacy of new and reprocessed microfiber cleaning cloth compared with other commonly used cleaning cloths in the hospital’, American Journal of Infection Control, viewed 4 December 2015, <>.

O’Connor, M 2014, ‘Inside the lonely fight against the biggest environmental problem you’ve never heard of’, The Guardian, 28 October, viewed 4 December 2015, <>.

Sifuentes, L, Gerba, C, Weart, I, Engelbrecht, K & Koenig, D, 2013, ‘Microbial contamination of hospital reusable cleaning towels’, American Journal of Infection Control, viewed 4 December 2015, <>.

15 Tips to reduce cleaning supply expenses fast!

Part of running a profitable business is keeping track of expenses and reviewing practices to ensure that the most effective and economical systems are in place. Companies that rely heavily on cleaning supplies to conduct their business are no exception.

Cleaning products are sold at different prices, levels of quality and performance, and dilution rates – all of which can affect the overall value and return on investment. Similarly, paper products are available in many different systems, and machinery at many different capacities.

In order to decide on the right solutions for your business, these factors must be taken into consideration.  As cleaning is a labour intensive industry, all time saved in the cleaning process can result in a reduction of expenses. Below are 15 tips designed to help you review your cleaning supply expenses and ultimately save money.


1. Tighten toilet paper use

Venues that service a large amount of patrons can find that they are constantly replacing toilet rolls. To minimise the amount of toilet paper used, and the frequency in which the rolls must be replaced, install cut sheet or electronic dispensers. These are designed to minimise the amount of paper each patron takes or receives with some systems claiming to be able to save up to 40% on toilet paper consumption.


2. Use cleaning products with the best overall value

Think cheap cleaning products are just as effective as their more expensive alternatives? Think again. Cleaning products come in all different concentrations with varying active ingredients and levels of performance. Those few dollars you saved up front on a 5L bottle of spray and wipe will quickly disappear if it only dilutes down to half of a slightly more expensive product. Furthermore, it could have less active ingredients and require twice as much product to get the job done, wasting the cleaner’s time and your profits.


3. Get foaming

Double Bubble Cleaning Product
Use Agar’s foaming hand soap, Double Bubble to reduce hand soap usage and costs!

The total cost of hand soap can vary greatly between brands, dispensers and the types of soap. Foaming hand soaps uses a special dispenser to add air to the product. This can reduce the amount of soap required to make one dosage by up to 50% without minimising cleaning effectiveness or product quality. Dispensers with cartridges are generally more expensive to refill due to the increase in packaging costs. Opt for refillable wall dispensers to reduce costs while helping to minimise impact on landfill.


4. Clean more frequently

It has to be said, surfaces that are cleaned more frequently are easier to clean and require less cleaning product and man power to do the job. Give surfaces a quick clean before they get dirty to reduce the need to do a deep clean and save time and money in the long run.


5. Clean properly

If you are paying someone to clean, make sure that they are doing it effectively using the right chemicals, tools and methods, otherwise you might be wasting your money. Make sure staff aren’t just going through the motions of cleaning and are actually reaching the desired outcomes.


6. Decant your own solutions

Purchasing cleaning products prepacked in spray bottles? Swap over to reusable spray and squirt bottles and save! Commercial cleaning product manufacturers offer the cleaning products in 5L and 20L bottles that can easily be decanted into ready-to-use containers. Not only will you save on money but you will also be reducing landfill, associated transport costs and the energy required to make the disposable bottles!


7. Use manual and automatic dispensers

Make diluting products easy, reduce wastage and minimise spills with the Chemi-SAFE!

Don’t leave decanting chemicals up to cleaners without providing them with the tools to do the job. It’s messy, potentially dangerous and often results in money washed down the drain. For sites with a large turnover of chemicals, source automatic dispensers to do the task quickly and effectively. For smaller sites or cleaner’s cupboard, install chemical cages with manual pumps, such as the Agar Chemi-SAFE. It locks cleaning products into place, has instructions for how many pumps are required for each product and task, has a tray to catch any spills and makes diluting products safe and easy!


8. Stick to one product for each task

Harbouring three different products to complete one task? Don’t waste money by purchasing chemicals that aren’t going to be used. Keep your range simple, focusing on one product for each task and multiuse products that can be used for more than one application. This will minimise the amount of products cleaners must decant and carry, and reduce wastage.


9. Use re-usable

Magic Cleaning Product and Spray Bottle
Reusable spray and squirt bottles save on packaging costs and landfill!

The surge of micro-fibre cleaning products on the market has opened up all kinds of possibilities for reusable cloths, mops and more. The cloths are excellent for use in conjunction with Agar’s spray and wipe products and can be easily washed and sanitised instead of thrown away. Using colour coded cloths and mops also minimises cross-contamination and helps cleaners to identify which item to use for each task. Note: Microfibre must be laundered correctly to maintain quality and remove bacteria.


10. Take advantage of horse power

Saving money in the long term can often mean spending more upfront and this is especially true when purchasing cleaning machines. Vacuums, auto-scrubbers, sweepers and carpet cleaners are all available at differing levels of capacity, back-up service and price. Saving on an item in the short term, but sacrificing on a warranty can end up costing you more if, or when, the product breaks down.

Machinery that is undersized or too low in capacity can take much longer to complete a task, slowing down your team and costing you more overall. On the other end of the scale, machinery with excess capacity can be wasted on small sites that don’t take long to clean. Do your research before investing in cleaning machinery. Don’t over-invest or under-invest, look for the most productive option for the size of the site that you have.


11. Stock up – don’t pay delivery

Most suppliers offer free delivery on orders above a certain price. Take advantage of this and order your products in advance, keeping stock of your most frequently used items in storage to make sure you don’t run out in between orders.


12. Have a plan of attack

Cleaning is a labour intensive industry. Any gains made through improving productivity and efficiency can result in big savings over the long term. All cleaning operations should be set out on a schedule, mapping out tasks in order of priority and the amount of time that is required to complete them. Simple strategies such as cleaning from the top to the bottom and doing the floors last, stops cleaners from ‘double handling’.

Regardless of the room, surface or area that must be cleaned, a procedure should be drawn up with a time line for completing each task and the order for which they should be done. Some tasks don’t need to be completed daily. Having a schedule allows for periodical items to be tracked to ensure they are completed when required. Review this schedule regularly and trial alternative systems to see if they improve productivity while maintaining the quality of the clean.


13. Pull the plug on paper

Switch from paper hand towels to hand dryers to save on costs over the long term!

One simple and easy way to save money is to replace paper hand towel dispensers with electronic hand dryers. While the initial cost is more expensive, large savings can be seen over the long term, especially when economic machines are installed that focus on reducing energy consumption. According to Dyson, its AirBlade dB hand dryer costs just $40 per year to run, compared to $157 for older, push button machines and a whopping $1460 for paper hand towel dispensers (Dyson). Furthermore, paper towels also incur the costs associated with the emptying and removal of the bins they are disposed in, not to mention the environmental impact that comes with producing them.


14. Use the correct product for the job

While we previously discussed minimising the range of cleaning products kept on site, it is also important to note that using the correct product for the job can help speed up cleaning and improve productivity. A simple example of this would be using an all-purpose cleaner on heavily soiled tiles that have not been cleaned in a long time. While the all-purpose cleaner may be effective in removing some of the build-up, a specialised tile cleaner such as Agar’s Once Off will do the job much faster and give a better result.


15. Purchase from one supplier or brand

Do you purchase your cleaning chemicals from a range of different suppliers or brands? Consider consolidating them all and purchasing from one single source. This will provide you with stronger buying power and the opportunity to purchase in bulk, potentially saving you money. It also eliminates the need to have multiple wall charts, dispensers and sales representatives to call for advice.



Dyson, Airblade dB hand dryer. Available from: <> [10 October 2015]

Australia’s highest green accreditation achieved for commercial cleaning products

After months of hard work and dedication, Agar Cleaning Systems has proudly licenced seven cleaning products from its Green Cleaning Range to the latest, and much more stringent commercial cleaning product standard (CPv2.2i-2012) from Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA).ACS-2015

GECA is the “gold class” of Australian ecolabelling programs. Its label provides confidence for buyers, confused by the host of green washing marketing material, to make trusted, environmentally sustainable choices.

Property managers looking for the highest standard of environmentally preferable solutions will demand the use of cleaning products certified by GECA. Using GECA products sends a clear message to your clients that you are committed to environmental sustainability and the use of concentrated, high performance products.

What is the difference between GECA and other green labels in Australia?

GECA is an independent, not for profit organisation which runs a multi-sector green certification program. In simple terms this means that GECA has no ties to the cleaning industry or any association within it, it provides certification to a range of commercial products and suppliers and all its profits go back into the organisation to fund further programs.

Internationally recognised, GECA’s ecolabelling program is Australia’s only member of the Global Ecolabelling Network, home to other world renowned members such as Green Seal (USA), The Nordic Swan (Nordic 5 countries) and EU Ecolabel (Europe).

GECA’s standards are more rigorous than any other Australian ecolabelling program for commercial cleaning products and are extremely difficult to achieve. The program not only takes into account product factors, such as the ingredients used, level of biodegradability, minimal and recyclable packaging, and increased concentration and product performance but also includes the health impacts that the products can have on the user as well as the conditions that the products are manufactured under.

GECA’s programs are fully transparent and its standards are developed through consultation with a wide range of stakeholders including industries, experts and the general public.

New to the latlogoest standard and unique to GECA is the requirement that 20% of all palm oil and palm kernel oil used in certified products must be obtained from sustainable sources. In order to comply with this requirement for all its cleaning products, not just those certified by GECA, Agar has   purchased Green Palm Sustainability certificates.

These certificates enable Agar a verified option for supporting sustainable palm oil and provides its clients with the confidence that its supplier is environmentally responsible.

What benefits can you gain from using Agar’s GECA certified products?

Commitment to the environment and staff – Using GECA certified products sends a strong message to property managers and other clients about the commitment your company has to the environment. With the most stringent standards for accreditation, you can be sure that using Agar’s GECA certified cleaning products will position your company at the leading edge of environmental sustainability.

Unique proposition – Promoting the use of Agar’s GECA certified products sets cleaning service businesses apart from competitors and gives it an advantage.

More performance –The Agar GECA certified range has been specially formulated to work just as hard as traditional cleaning products to ensure cleaners get the same, great performance and results they have come to expect from Agar.

Value for money –Agar boasts high concentrations across all its products and the GECA range is no exception. Formulated so that users get the most out of each bottle, the range minimises transport and packaging costs to save businesses money and reduce carbon emissions.

Achieving the new standard

To be awarded the new standard, many of the products in Agar’s GECA range needed to be further refined or significantly reformulated to be approved. This occasion marks a very important achievement for Agar, as it demonstrates its ability to formulate products that perform at a high level while minimising environmental impact.

The demanding accreditation procedure ensures that Agar’s products are not only safer for the environment but safer for its users too.

Summary of changes for the new standard

  • New palm oil and palm kernel oil criteria ensure that if these raw materials are used, a minimum of 20% must be purchased from sustainable, responsible sources. Agar is now a paid-up signatory to the Green Palm Organisation which enables us to buy certificates that support farmers who produce responsibly-grown palm and palm kernel oil from RSPO manufacturers. (RSPO stands for Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil). This stops the destruction of palm-tree forest habitat for endangered species and protects peatlands which are reservoirs for large amounts of CO2. Agar will offset ALL palm and palm kernel oil it uses in ALL products, not just the GECA products, to ensure that these raw materials come from sustainable, responsible suppliers.
  • ALL organic ingredients and surfactants must be aerobically biodegradable. This is now a more stringent requirement and ensures a higher level of biodegradability. This requirement has lead Agar to further refine several of its GECA products as it has dramatically reduced the range of organic materials that can be used in the products. Many stock-standard detergent surfactants used in industry will not pass this test.
  • ALL surfactants must be anaerobically biodegradable. This means that they will break down even in sludge where there is little oxygen. Again, this greatly restricts the types of surfactant Agar can use.
  • Volatile Organic Compounds are limited to 3% by weight in the diluted solution of cleaning product. The old limit was 5%, so this is a further tightening of the volatile organics, such as solvents and perfumes. It will lead to even better indoor air quality where these products are used.
  • No phosphates are now permitted. The old Standard allowed a small amount of phosphates to be used. Phosphates are not desirable in inland waterways because they promote the growth of algal blooms and eutrophication in lakes and rivers if the product were to find its way into these waterways.
  • The manufacturer’s factory waste water emissions must now be monitored and analysed for volume, chemical oxygen demand and contaminants. This is to ensure that the production facility is not causing pollution of the downstream treatment facilities.
  • The products must not be classed as Dangerous Goods or Hazardous goods (with the only exception being toilet cleaners which can be Xi Irritant, not C Corrosive).
  • The products must be completely free from all carcinogens, teratogens and endocrine disruptors. This is to protect the health and safety of people using the products.
  • A comprehensive list of seriously toxic and environment-pollution chemicals have been banned from these cleaning products.
  • All bioaccumulative substances have been banned. No chemicals that could potentially accumulate in human tissue are present in GECA-accredited products.
  • Ingredients that are classed as toxic or harmful to the environment have been capped at 1% maximum by the Standard.
  • New rules stipulate that the ratio of the volume of shipped goods transported to the volume of in-use product that can be made from the goods is below a limit of 2:3. This is to minimise the amount of energy wasted by transporting excess water in the products.
  • Waste management is now audited in the factory to ensure that raw material losses in the manufacturing process are absolutely minimal.
  • Energy conservation policies must be in place in the factory.
  • The best effective storage procedures must be utilised to prevent spills, leaks or emissions of chemical raw materials to water, land or air. This is to prevent accidental pollution from occurring.
  • All GECA-accredited products must now pass the above requirements in addition to all of the original GECA requirements which are still in place. For more detailed information, you can access GECA Standard No: CPv2.2-2012 at

Keeping Food Safe #2 – Sanitising kitchen surfaces with cleaning products

Ensuring the safety of patrons is one of the most important aspects of running a food service business. Nobody wants to go out for a meal only to take home a bad case of food poisoning. In order to serve fresh and safe food, key hygiene practices must be followed. In our last blog we focused on sanitising fresh produce. This issue we will look into sanitising commerical kitchen surfaces with cleaning products, to ensure that food isn’t contaminated.

What does it mean to sanitise?

While the terms may sometimes be used interchangeably; cleaning, sanitising and sterilising are actually three different things. For the most part, cleaners and kitchen staff focus on cleaning and sanitising, that is, removing visible dirt, food scraps, grease, oil, etc, and minimising bacteria levels on surfaces, equipment and food. Sterilising is the practise of completely removing all bacteria from a surface and is often used in places like hospital operating theatres where it is important that absolutely no germs are present.

How to clean surfaces and equipment?

In order for surfaces and equipment to be sanitised, they must first be cleaned. Dirt, grease and food particles can counteract the sanitising cleaning products and stop them from working. Depending on the soil that needs to be removed, different methods for cleaning are used. There are a range of methods available for cleaning items and surfaces in commercial kitchens, please read the instructions below to find the best method for each item.
Food Preparation Surfaces

1. Scrub or wipe down surfaces using a clean cloth or scourer, a solution of dishwashing detergent and warm water in a bucket. Remove all visible signs of dirt/food/oil. Be sure to change the solution regularly or when it becomes dirty.
2. Rinse the surface with fresh water to remove any remaining detergent.
3. Once clean allow to dry.

Agar’s rinse free sanitiser RF-12

1. Spray dry surfaces with rinse free sanitiser RF-12 or apply using a cloth or sponge.
2. Keep the surface wet with sanitiser for a few minutes.
3. Rinsing is not required, but treated surfaces should be adequately drained and dry before they come in contact with food again.

Crockery and Cutlery

Clean all items in dishwasher if possible.

Agar’s automatic dishwashing liquid Autodish

1. Before placing items in the dishwasher, scrape off all food scraps into a bin. Any chunks of food left on will land in the filter and compromise the quality of the clean.
2. Knives, forks and spoons should be allowed to soak in a bucket of water before being put through the dishwasher.
3. Stack in a manner that allows the water to reach the entire item.
4. Turn on machine and allow to run full wash and rinse cycle. Commerical dishwashers have dishwashing liquid, such as Agar’s Autodish, automatically dispensed into the machine.
5. Once finished, take out plates and bowls and stack ready for use.
6. Put cutlery in buckets of hot water ready for polishing and storing.

Items cleaned in a dishwasher will be sanitised during the rinse phase using heat, providing that the dishwasher is working correctly, has no scale build up and items are stacked properly.

Chopping Boards

Agar’s manual dishwashing detergent Lift

Manual Washing
1. Scrape off all visible food scraps into the bin.
2. Fill sink with warm water and add Lift dishwashing detergent.
3. Scrub boards until clean and all visible soil is removed.
4. Allow to air dry.

Cleaning in dishwasher
1. Scrape off all visible food scraps in the bin.
2. Stack boards in dishwasher so that water can reach the entire item.
3. Turn on machine and allow to run full wash and rinse cycle. Chopping boards cleaned in a dishwasher will be sanitised during the rinse phase using heat, providing that the dishwasher is working correctly, has no scale build up and items are stacked properly.

Manual Washing
1. Once dry, spray boards with rinse free sanitiser RF-12.
2. Keep the surface wet with sanitiser for a few minutes.
3. Allow boards to drain so that the sanitiser can run off.
4. Chopping boards should be thoroughly dry before coming in contact with food again.

Food Processers and Mixing Equipment

1. Wipe down machines using a clean cloth with a solution of dishwashing detergent and warm water in a bucket. Remove all visible signs of dirt/food/oil. Be sure to change the solution regularly or when it becomes dirty.
2. Use fresh water and a cloth to remove any remaining detergent.
3. Wash all loose parts in clean dishwashing water or place in the dishwasher if applicable.

1. Spray equipment and loose parts with rinse free sanitiser RF-12 once dry. Be careful not to spray electrical points, dials and buttons.
2. Keep the surface wet with sanitiser for a few minutes.
3. Allow items to drain so that the sanitiser can run off.
4. Items should be thoroughly dry before coming in contact with food again.
5. Loose items washed in the dishwasher do not need sanitising.


Clean all items in a dishwasher if possible.

Glass Wash
Agar’s machine glass washing detergent Glass Wash

1. Clean all cups and glasses using glass scrubber. To do this, place the glass over the brusher in a warm solution of dishwashing detergent and water and twist it once, twice or until all lipstick, grease and visible dirt is removed.
2. Place cups and glasses on a dishwashing tray.
3. Turn on machine and allow to run full wash and rinse cycle.
4. Once finished, take out glasses and stack ready for use.

Cups and glasses cleaned in a dishwasher will be sanitised during the rinse phase using heat, providing that the dishwasher is working correctly, has no scale build up and items are stacked properly.


Probe thermometers should be cleaned and sanitised after each use.
1. Clean the thermometer with a cloth and warm soapy water to remove all visible soil and allow to dry.

1. Once dry, sanitise the probe by leaving in a container of boiling water for one minute or dipping in a clean solution of rinse free sanitiser.
2. Allow thermometer to thoroughly dry before coming in contact with food again.

Pots and Pans

1. Scrape off food scraps into the bin.
2. Pots and pans that are very dirty can be soaked in hot water in the sink with dishwashing detergent.
3. Once water has cooled, scrub pots and pans with a scourer.
4. Rinse the detergent and any soil off the pots then put them in the dishwasher.

Pots and pans cleaned in the dishwasher will be sanitised during the rinse phase using heat, providing that the dishwasher is working correctly, has no scale build up and items are stacked properly.

Sanitising: Heat + Chemicals

Surfaces, kitchen utensils, crockery and equipment can be sanitised using either heat or chemicals.
Dishwashers use hot water and steam to sanitise kitchen items during the rinse cycle while sanitisers are more commonly used for larger surfaces such as benches or equipment that can’t be put through a cycle.

For both heat and sanitisers to be effective, they must be used in the correct manner. Dishwasher rinse cycles must reach temperatures of 80°C or above and run for over a minute. If you’re using boiling water to sanitise a surface, the surface itself must reach 77°C.

The procedure for sanitising surfaces with chemicals depends largely on the type of chemicals used. There are a number of food-grade sanitisers that are commonly found in commercial kitchens including chlorine, quaternary ammonium compounds (QUAT) and alcohol. The below chart outlines Agar’s chemical sanitisers for use in commercial kitchens.  Further information on each cleaning product and its application can be found on the Product Data Sheets (PDS). To access these on the product pages, you need to log into the Member’s Area.

Agar Cleaning Products for Sanitising Kitchens

Sanitiser Cleaning Products Chart V4


How frequently should you clean and sanitise?

Surfaces and Equipment14198761488_e1e17e3b74_k

    • Before using a food preparation surface.
    • When changing ingredients or preparing a different type of food.
    • After you’ve finished with a surface or piece of equipment.
    • At the end of the shift.


    • Clean out dishwasher filters at the end of a shift.
    • Run a cleaning cycle at the end of the day.
    • Inspect dishwashers weekly to ensure all parts are working correctly and no build-up of scale or soil is occurring in hard to reach places.


    • Reusable cloths should be washed in hot water, detergent and sanitiser at the end of every shift.
    • Cloths that become dirty during a shift should be put into a washing basket to be cleaned later.
    • Use a combination of washing powder and sanitiser, such as Agar’s Flair and Safety Bleach to clean and sanitise in the wash.

Things to Remember

  • Have a ‘keep clean’ policy in place.
  • Create a schedule to keep track of when items must be cleaned and tick them off when completed.
  • Remember to prevent cross-contamination by never placing ready-to-eat food on any surface that held raw meat, poultry, seafood or eggs.
  • Wash your hands! Don’t contaminate food with poor personal hygiene. Wash hands frequently, before handling food, when changing ingredients, after a break, eating, going to the toilet, smoking, touching your skin or hair and don’t work while you are sick.
  • Wear gloves and glasses when handling or diluting concentrated chemicals, using chlorine or caustic based products. More info on Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) can be found on the product SDS.
  • Make sure you are trained in chemical safety training and have read the cleaning product’s SDS prior to handling it.

Disclaimer: All data and information provided on this site is offered as a guide only. Agar Cleaning Systems makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

Working with Dangerous and Hazardous Cleaning Products

Many industries rely on chemicals to maintain safe and hygienic environments. Cleaning products are vital in the removal of fats, oils, proteins and dirt, acting quickly to break down soils, improve productivity and sanitise. Commercial cleaning products are often highly concentrated and require careful handling and storage to ensure the safety of cleaners, workplaces and the environment, especially if they are Dangerous or Hazardous.

Cleaning products are categorised into different classes depending on ingredients and the safety precautions required. These classes are Hazardous, Non-Hazardous, Dangerous and Non-Dangerous and with products labelled as Hazardous and Dangerous needing special care to ensure safety. It is also important to note that some products can be classified as Scheduled Poisons. Like Hazardous and Dangerous products these products need to be handled carefully with personal protective gear worn when in use. They must be stored in a secure and locked store room, away from children and unauthorised personnel.


Hazardous, Dangerous and Posionous Products


Agar Cleaning Systems aims to formulate the safest products wherever possible, developing a wide range of Non-Hazardous and Non-Dangerous products to suit the majority of applications. There are some tasks however which demand the use of Hazardous and Dangerous products and for that reason, Agar recommends some basic safety precautions to keep people, property and the environment protected.

Identifying Hazardous and Dangerous Products

To find out if a product is classed as Hazardous or Dangerous check the SDS, the product label or a Risk Assessment Folder. On the SDS, look for the headings ‘2 Hazardous Identification’ to see if the product is Hazardous and ‘14 Transport Information’ to identify if it is Dangerous.

Before using a product for the first time, staff should always refer to the SDS as it outlines important information including any classifications, first aid, personal protective equipment that should be worn when handling, spill instructions and exposure controls. The information on the SDS will help keep staff safe when handling all cleaning products, especially Dangerous and Hazardous products.

Bottles and SDS

What are Hazardous Products?

Hazardous substances are those that can have an adverse effect on health. Unsafe use and handling of these substances can cause immediate, short term or long-term health problems including poisoning, irritation, chemical burns, sensitisation, cancer and birth defects. Hazardous substances enter the system via inhalation, swallowing or contact with the skin or eyes. To minimise the risks of using hazardous products, precautions must be taken and personal protective equipment must be worn (© Commonwealth of Australia 2014).

What are Dangerous Goods?

Dangerous goods are solids, liquids, or gases that are corrosive, flammable, explosive, spontaneously combustible, toxic, oxidising or water-reactive (Worksafe Victoria). These substances present a hazard to people, property and the environment and must be stored and handled safely to reduce risks. Mishandling dangerous goods can result in fires, explosions, property and environmental damage, as well as serious or fatal injuries, poisoning and chemical burns (© Commonwealth of Australia 2014).

Dangerous goods are categorised into different classes and groups which helps identify the risks involved with the products. The different categories that Agar’s Dangerous products are classified under are detailed below.

Class 3 Dangerous Goods (Pack. II and Pack. III)
Class 3 Dangerous Goods are flammable, which means they can catch fire and burn. Often, they can give off vapours that can also burn and may even be explosive.

Class 5 Dangerous Goods
Class 5 Dangerous Goods are oxidising agents. Because they may readily give off oxygen, they may start a fire when in contact with other substances and may increase the violence of a fire. They react dangerously with many other materials.

Class 8 Dangerous Goods
Class 8 Dangerous Goods are corrosive, which means they can damage the skin, eyes, many metals and many other substances by chemical attack.

There are a number of key measures that must be taken when handling and storing all chemicals but especially Dangerous and Hazardous Goods. The following outlines four steps to help improve chemical safety. For further information on chemical safety, or others requiring attention, please contact Agar.

1. Chemical Safety Training

Training staff on the correct way to handle cleaning products is paramount to their safety, the safety of those around them and that of the facility. Employers must provide product and safety training to all staff using cleaning products classed as Dangerous. General training should be provided for staff using Hazardous and all other products to ensure their safety. Agar offers both onsite and online chemical awareness training to clients and their cleaners.

Dangerous Goods Training

All employees handling or using Dangerous Goods must be trained and given information on:

  • The names, properties and possible hazards of the dangerous goods present
  • The correct use and proper fit of personal protective equipment, e.g. gloves, goggles, etc. that need to be used
  • Correct procedures for work involving the storage or use of the dangerous goods
  • Emergency actions to take if a spill, leak, fire or explosion occurs.

Basic Chemical Safety Training

  • Hazardous and Dangerous products identification
  • Chemical storage
  • Reading Safety Data Sheets (SDS)
  • Personal Protective Equipment
  • Safely diluting products (PPE)
  • Personal hygiene
  • Correct way to handle chemicals
  • Exposure standards
  • Cleaning up spills
  • Basic first aid
  • Health hazards
  • Other dangers

2. Chemical Storage

Cleaning products must be stored correctly to help minimise the risks of injury. There are strict regulations surrounding the storage of Dangerous Goods, different for each class and group. An overview is provided below, please contact Agar for full information on storing the different classes of Dangerous Goods.

    • Ensure all products and decanted solutions are correctly labelled and labels are facing the front and easily readable
    • Ensure that any spillage of Dangerous Goods stays within the premises
    • Use shelves that are constructed of materials compatible with the Dangerous Goods and able to carry the load successfully
    • Prevent unauthorised persons from entering the store. Keep the door and windows locked when no one is in attendance
    • Keep Personal Protective Equipment near the Store-room
    • Keep the Store-Room clean and free of rubbish
    • Train all employees who use Dangerous Goods on the hazards, correct storage procedures, correct use of personal protective equipment and emergency response actions that may be required
    • Keep all packages closed when not in use
    • Prevent leaks and spills from occurring. Clean up any spills immediately using correct equipment and instructions outlined in the product SDS
    • Access routes must be kept clear, inside and outside (for vehicles) dangerous goods storage areas
    • Access must be available for fire engines
    • Access for staff must be provided to personal protective equipment, spill containment gear, fire extinguisher
    • Prescribed appropriate fire fighting equipment must be kept on site
    • Make sure SDS, PDS and Risk Assessments documents are stored in the cleaner’s room together with products

3. Personal Protective Gear

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is worn when handling chemicals to reduce the risk of contact with the product. The PPE that is needed to be worn is shown on the Material Safety Data Sheet, under the heading, “Precautions for Use – Personal Protection”. Employers must provide personal protective equipment to suit each type of Dangerous Goods kept on site and make sure it is maintained in good order and replaced when damaged.

PPE includes:

  • Gloves:
    Because some chemicals may attack rubber, it may be necessary to wear chemical resistant gloves, such as nitrile, neoprene, or PVC gloves.
  • Eye Protection:
    Many chemicals can irritate or burn the eyes so it is essential to wear safety glasses, goggles or a full face mask when specified.
  • Clothing:
    Special overalls or boots may be required.

4. Handling Cleaning Products

  • Before you start handling products or cleaning
    Read the MSDS, making special note of the Risk Phrases and Safety information.
  • Read the label on the drum or bottle. Note the Dangerous Goods Class Label, Warnings, etc.
  • Read the wall charts.
  • If you have to train other people, go through this information with them and explain what it means.
  • Keep the MSDS near the work area in case you need the First Aid Instructions in an emergency.

Diluting Cleaning Products

  • Follow the instructions outlined on the Product Data Sheet.
  • Use automatic dispensers where possible, make sure you have received training on how to use them.
  • Always use the correct colour coded spray or squirt bottle to match the product.
  • Work out how much chemical product you need to water and add that to the bucket, spray bottle or squirt bottle first. Be careful not to spill any and clean up any that you might have spilt straight away (spill instructions can be found on SDS).

When Using Products

  • Follow the application instructions on the Product Data Sheet
  • Never mix chemicals – you do not know what may happen
  • Do not bring chemicals from home into the workplace
  • Use the chemicals only for the purposes for which they are intended
  • Make sure all spray and squirt bottles of chemicals are labelled
  • All incidents or accidents should be reported to the supervisor
  • If you inhale, spill product on your skin, get it in your eyes or swallow it, call for help and refer to the SDS. Depending on the severity, medical assistance may be required.

Handling Dangerous Products

  • Personal Protective Gear must be worn at all times when handling Dangerous Goods. Information on PPE for each specific product can be found on the corresponding SDS.
  • Generally speaking, Dangerous Goods must be transported in closed containers (unless they are non-dusting solids).
  • Packages must not be left open other than while actually pouring products out.
  • Packages of Dangerous Goods must not be opened except in the area where they are to be used.
  • Packages of Dangerous Goods must be inspected when being delivered onto site and at regular intervals thereafter to ensure any damage or leakage is found promptly.
  • Any leaking or broken packages must be repacked or made safe immediately.
  • Any spill or leak of Dangerous Goods must be cleaned up and disposed of immediately.
  • Leaking packages must not be taken into a storage area.


Practising the above procedures and precautions will help maintain the safety of staff when handling and storing cleaning products. For further information on chemical safety or any other topics mentioned in this guide, please contact Agar.


Commonwealth of Australia 2014, Hazardous Substances and Dangerous Goods. Available from: <>. [1 July 2015].

Worksafe Victoria, Dangerous Goods. Available from: <> [1 July 2015].

Disclaimer: For full safety guidelines on handling Dangerous Substances, Hazardous Substances and Scheduled Posions, please contact Safe Work Australia. All data and information provided on this site is offered as a guide only. Agar Cleaning Systems makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, currentness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis.

Keeping food safe: Sanitising fruit and vegetables

Chinese, Italian, street food or Australiana, regardless of the cuisine, serving delicious, comforting and exciting meals is something that all chefs strive for. Serving up memorable dining experiences as customers embark on new taste sensations or share old favourites with family and friends produces great pride and satisfaction in their work. One experience that they don’t want customers to take away with them is a case of food poisoning.

Food poisoning is alarmingly common in Australia with an estimated 5.4 million cases a year. Caused by food contaminated with bacteria, viruses or toxins, the symptoms can be very unpleasant, ranging from mild stomach upset to long term health problems and even death in rare cases.

With the multitude of food going in and out of commercial kitchens, proper preparation and handling is vital. This series of articles will address safe practises for food handling with a special emphasis on using cleaning products to keep your customers safe. Today’s article will focus on cleaning and sanitising fresh fruit and vegetables to remove bacteria and prevent cross contamination.

When most people think of food poisoning, things like meat, eggs and seafood come straight to mind. Little do they know that there can be some other big offenders that would seemingly slide under the radar. Fresh fruit and vegetables to be served raw in salads, coleslaws, desserts and garnishes can pose a problem as they can be exposed to harmful bacteria from soil. Below are some tips and processes to minimise the microorganisms present on fruit and vegetables to greatly reduce risk of exposure.

Tips for handling fruit and vegetable

  • Check the quality of fresh produce from the supplier to ensure that it is clean, undamaged and fresh. Damaged produce can allow pathogens to enter the tissues and chlorine may not reach the pathogens
  • Sanitise fruit and vegetables in a mild solution of chlorine (instructions below) to minimise bacteria
  • Keep raw, unsanitised produce away from ready to serve food to prevent cross contamination
  • Store sanitised produce in the fridge to prevent bacterial growth. Store ready-to-serve, sanitised produce above raw items in the fridge
  • Wash ready-to-eat fruit and vegetables on the day you intend to use them
  • Use cleaned and sanitised chopping boards and work surfaces to prevent cross contamination
  • Always wash your hands before handling and preparing food
  • (NSW Food Authority 2006)

How to sanitise fruit and vegetables

Washing raw produce with a chlorine solution has been shown to reduce the number of microorganisms present on raw fruit and vegetables.

This process is especially important for produce that will be prepared for raw consumption such as salads, coleslaw, fruit salad etc. To sanitise fruit and vegetables, clean them in water to remove all visible dirt and then sanitise them by soaking in 100 ppm (free) chlorine for 5 minutes.

Sodium hypochlorite (commonly known as bleach) is a chlorine based chemical that is a permitted washing agent for food manufacture. When making up the sanitiser solution it is essential that quantities be measured out accurately. In addition, appropriate chemical training for operators preparing the sanitising wash is also important and must also be demonstrated (NSW Food Authority 2006).

Before you start –

Undamaged clean, fresh produce: It is important to purchase clean, undamaged, fresh produce. Damaged produce can allow pathogens to enter the tissues and chlorine may not reach the pathogens. Chlorine rapidly loses its effectiveness on contact with dirt, organic matter and when exposed to air, light or metals. Therefore, make sure all soil is removed before soaking in the chlorine sanitising solution and periodically check the level of sanitiser if you are washing a lot of vegetables.

Wash water temperature: The temperature of the wash water and the chlorine sanitising solution is also important. The wash and sanitising water temperature should be slightly warmer (about 5 – 10 degrees) than the produce to prevent water being sucked inside the fruit or vegetable. If the wash water is cooler than the vegetables, water can be absorbed into the tissues along with any bacteria present.

Contact time: For the chlorine to work effectively, it needs to be in contact with the food surface for five minutes to be able to kill bacteria. This is known as contact time and it is very important to allow the produce to soak in the Bleach solution (NSW Food Authority 2006).


  1. Make sure your produce is free of dirt, undamaged and pre-cooled in a refrigerator.
  2. Pre-wash in water (at least 10°C warmer than the temperature of the produce) to remove excess soil and dirt.
  3. Making the chlorine solution.
    • Make sure you follow your occupational health and safety requirements for handling and preparing chlorine solutions,
    • Use ONLY food grade chlorine (sodium hypochlorite, NaOCl), it must be labelled as food grade.
    • Use a single, designated sink for washing fruits and vegetables, mark a fill line in the sink for the correct water level. Fill with water up to the correct level and then add the Bleach. You should make only enough for one batch and use immediately. Ideally you should purchase test strips to check the level of chlorine and record the date, time and chlorine concentration in a special book every time you make up a Bleach sanitiser solution. Monitor this level regularly if washing a large quantity of produce.
    • Measure out the Bleach, use the table below to achieve the volumes below for 100 ppm concentration of Bleach solution.
  4. Add washed produce and agitate to ensure that all surfaces are wet and there are no bubbles.
  5. Soak for 5 minutes or as directed by the manufacturer.
  6. Do not rinse (if the final level of chlorine residue in the final product complies with the FSC 1.3.3).
  7. Dilute and dispose of the Bleach solution in accordance with your sewerage authority requirements.
  8. Prepare and use the next batch of Bleach solution only when needed, do not store.
  9. If you are using a commercial product make sure you carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions for quantities, contact time and water temperature.
  10. (NSW Food Authority 2006)

Dilution Rate Table –

Agar Bleach with 5% available (free) chlorine can be diluted using the table below to achieve a 100 ppm concentration of available chlorine.

Sanitiser Fruit and Vegetables

(NSW Food Authority 2006)


NSW Food Authority 2006, Industry Guide to Developing a Food Safety Program (Hospitals and Aged Care). Available from: <> [10 June 2015]

How to choose the right Heavy Duty Detergent for the job

Agar’s Heavy Duty Detergents are formulated to quickly and completely remove a range of stubborn soils. A step up from the All Purpose and Floor Cleaners, the HD cleaning products work harder and faster to cut through grease, grime, oil, fat and dirt to easily wash it away.

Each product is formulated to serve a specific purpose or requirement, yet can be applied to a range of different tasks. With 14 HD cleaning products on offer, all with varying ingredients and specialities, a little help is sometimes necessary to select the correct one for the job.

The attached charts outline the differences between each commercial cleaning product. The first chart explains the primary use of each product, the features of its formulation and any requirements which might be necessary such as non-dangerous. The second chart highlights an extensive range of applications and surfaces that the products can be used for. While this list isn’t completely exhaustive, it does help those looking for a versatile product.

To download the Heavy Duty Detergent – Product Selection Guide please click here. 

If you would like further assistance in selecting a product, please contact Agar’s technical support on 1800 301 302.


HD Deterent Product Selection Guide Page 1



HD Deterent Product Selection Guide Page 2

How to improve your cleaning business’s green credentials

The focus on environmentally friendly solutions continues to grow with more people making a conscious effort to ‘go green’ in their product and service choices. With the lingering fear of global warming and other threats to our natural environment continually being publicised, it’s not surprising that we are seeing a growing interest in the green movement. So how do you get your cleaning business’s eco image up to scratch without breaking the bank? Check out these five tips below to help you.

1. Use certified green cleaning products

The obvious first choice is to begin using Green Cleaning Products instead of traditional chemical cleaners. These products tend to be kinder on the environment, can be purchased for relatively the same cost as standard cleaning supplies and give your business that instant boost.

Make sure you are getting the real deal by purchasing cleaning products which are certified by an independent company such as Good Environmental Choice Australia (GECA). Agar has a range of Green Cleaning products which are certified by GECA, are biodegradable, phosphate-free, non-toxic and safe to use. Each product within the range is formulated to be high performance so that you don’t have to sacrifice cleaning power for green.

Green Cleaning Products

Agar’s in the Green Cleaning Product Range includes:
  • All Purpose & Floor Cleaners – pH-7 & Spruce
  • Spray & Wipe Cleaners – Citra-Mist
  • Heavy Duty Detergent – Enyclean
  • Toilet & Bathroom Cleaners – Fresco & Sequal
  • Glass Cleaner – Bellevue
  • Carpet Spot Cleaner – Citrus Extra, Spot Wiz

2. Go green in the office

If your business is office based, bump up your green credentials with these easy steps.

a. Printing

Only print what you absolutely must! Store your files electronically and send emails instead of mail to reduce your paper trail. Don’t print emails you receive and opt to have all your bills sent to you via email.

b. Recycle, Re-use and Donate

You recycle at home so why not recycle at work? Recycling paper in the office is now easier than ever with many Councils and commercial recyclers offering paper recycling services for local businesses. Recycled paper uses up to 50% less energy and 90% less water than making it from raw materials! Specialised companies are also offering solutions for recycling plastic and composting organic waste, greatly reducing your office’s impact on the environment!

Australians purchase up to 2.4 million computers a year, greatly contributing to the growing problem of e-waste. Computers, monitors, phones and TV’s can all be recycled for their valuable parts through specialised companies such as TechCollect.

Finally make a conscience effort to choose re-usable items and re-purpose furniture and equipment where possible. Remember; it all adds up!

c. Heating and cooling

Keep the use of heating and cooling equipment to the minimum. Set air conditioners to a minimum of 25 degrees during summer and 18-21 degrees in winter. Each degree you don’t use can make a big difference to the overall emissions created. Stick to the highest rated energy units to further the benefits.

d. Turn off electrical items

Make sure you turn off all appliances and electrical equipment at night or when you leave your office for an extended period of time. Install sleep settings to all computers and devices to ensure that they aren’t using unnecessary power.

e. Switch to solar

Where possible invest in solar power panels to offset or completely cover your office’s electricity usage. You can also invest in a solar powered hot water system to further reduce usage and emissions. Not only will you save money on your bills but you will also be producing a cleaner, more sustainable energy source.

3. Plan your travel wisely

a. Schedule your routes in local areas

For most cleaning businesses, travel is an essential part of servicing customers. To minimise kilometres travelled, schedule cleaning jobs in local areas on certain days. Speak to current clients about potentially swapping days or time slots and explain that you are trying to streamline your travel between clients.

When it comes to business meetings why not make use of technology and schedule select appointments via Skype, video conference or teleconference. While it may not be suitable to always meet this way, it can cut down on considerable travel emissions when used as a regular alternative.

b. Newer, more economical vehicles

Newer cars tend to use less fuel and are more efficient, reducing greenhouse emissions. Where possible, only purchase vehicles with better fuel consumption figures. Avoid ‘theoretical’ figures released from car manufacturers and instead look at real-world fuel consumption reported in road tests as they are a better guide.

c. Place bigger orders, less often

When ordering items like cleaning supplies, place larger orders less often. Cutting down your order from twice per month to once per month will halve the emissions produced during your delivery

4. Make a point of purchasing quality

Regardless of what you are purchasing, items of quality tend to last longer, provide better performance and save you money in the long run. When selecting office equipment, business tools, cleaning products and cleaning supplies, such as vacuum cleaners, always go for items which advertise quality and high performance.

Getting more out of your purchases means less items being thrown into landfill, less delivery, less money spent on items overall and in some cases, less power required to run the items.

5. Return cleaning product bottles

A quick and simple option for further reducing the environmental impact of cleaning supplies is to return the cleaning product bottles to Agar for refilling. When you receive your delivery from an Agar truck, simply leave out the used cleaning product bottles and Agar will collect them. Alternatively you can return them to Agar.

This service is currently only available in the metro Melbourne area. Agar’s cleaning products come in 100% recyclable plastic bottles which can be disposed of in standard recycling bins or through a commercial recycling company.

Taking these steps will help your business reduce its emissions and environmental foot print while helping to improve its ‘green’ image.