There are so many products for sale to help us clean, sanitize and disinfect. Never before in human history have we had so many potions, lotions, and gadgets available to keep our environment sterile. In most public places, for example grocery stores, schools, or hospitals, “sanitation stations” fully equipped with hand sanitizers and wipes all in an effort to minimize the spread of germs and consequently diseases are clearly marked and well used. As modern medicine evolves, so has our understanding that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. But are you using the right cleaning products?
The floral industry too has evolved with time, and we have learned many things the hard way. We now have a much better understanding of how proper sanitation plays one of the most important roles in increasing vase life or how the lack thereof can greatly impact it. Increased vase life has many benefits, none of the least being to save money. Ensuring your customer has an amazing experience is priceless. Happy customers are repeat customers, and that is worth a little extra elbow grease!
Having a clean operation is not only vital to the well-being of your flowers but also to you and your customers. But are you cleaning your flower operation, floral shop or floral department correctly?
Cleanliness is usually underestimated in terms of its importance concerning postharvest vase life. If we are starting with a dirty and microbe infested bucket, cooler or anything else that might come in contact with the flowers, all other attempts at postharvest care will be less effective (fresh flower food, hydration etc.). For example, if a flower is properly treated and then put into a dirty bucket, the flower may prematurely die from the microbes, regardless of the treatment. So, make sure that everything that may come in contact with the flower is cleaned with a floral industry approved disinfectant cleaner, such as FloraLife® D.C.D.® or FloraLife® MicroBLOC®, including buckets, cutters, coolers, benches, etc.
Research has shown that buckets left dirty for four days can reduce the vase life of a rose by up to 20%.
Rose Vase Life in a Clean Bucket vs. a Dirty Bucket
|Dirty / Used 4 days old||7.5|
Why use FloraLife® D.C.D.® or FloraLife® MicroBLOC®? The products are specifically designed to kill microbes over a long period of time. If you clean your buckets today, tomorrow the buckets will still be protected. Many use a chlorine bleach to clean their buckets. Chlorine is an extremely effective biocide, but does not have any residual effect, leaving no protection past the actual application (see chart below).
Relative Effectiveness of Bleach vs. Horticultural Detergent Measured After 3 Weeks
|FloraLife® D.C.D.® or MicroBLOC®||1||1|
For every bacteria found in the bucket cleaned with FloraLife® D.C.D.® or FloraLife® MicroBLOC®, there were 389 bacteria found in the bucket cleaned with bleach.
Detergent cleaners can be effective, but they only remove microorganisms from surfaces and do not disinfect. Often times, they also require an additional rinsing step.
- Sweep cooler and work area floors daily to rid them of leaves, petals or stems that may carry disease spores.
- Clean and disinfect your flower buckets, tools, work station surfaces and delivery vehicles daily.
- Clean and disinfect door handles, front desks, lunchrooms, retail counter tops, elevators, floors, bathrooms, sinks and desks daily.
- Clean and disinfect AC vents, cooler walls and shelves weekly.
- Use only clean and cool water for flower hydration, holding solutions and vase solutions.
- Use ONLY commercial hydration and flower food solutions as these include the proper ingredients.
- Mix fresh solution: start with clean, freshly made hydration and holding solutions at grower, wholesale and bouquet operations and properly mixed commercial flower foods at retail stores.
- Be sure you and your team are sanitation fanatics! For best results there is no substitute for due diligence!
Your cleaning efforts should not be exclusive to flowers. It is important to remind everyone of the importance of cleaning and disinfecting all environments properly and often, whether at home or in the workplace!