Maintenance and Operations, Safety

ISSA and Howie Mandel Ask America to ‘Rethink What Clean Means’

ISSA, the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association, announced its partnership with popular comedian, actor, TV host, and known germaphobe Howie Mandel by launching the Rethink What Clean Means campaign. Together they’re working to educate America about the pivotal importance of cleaning and supporting businesses in elevating their standard of clean.

“If there’s one thing everyone knows about me, it’s that I’m a clean freak,” said Mandel. “However, what clean means to one person, might mean something totally different to another. Knowing we have experts, like ISSA, setting the standard for cleanliness gives me peace of mind when I’m at a hotel, out at restaurants, or performing in large venues.”

To help raise awareness about the importance of cleanliness, Mandel stars in a unique online video series, “Howie Clean It,” taking viewers on a journey to discover the hidden grime in seemingly clean spaces. With the help of an ISSA pro, Mandel will inspire viewers to learn more about what clean means, share what they learned on social, and look for the Rethink Clean insignia to find businesses that are committed to cleanliness.

New Survey Findings Uncover America’s Views on Cleanliness

A new YouGov survey, commissioned by ISSA, offers a sweeping look at America’s sentiment toward cleaning and how cleanliness itself impacts businesses across the nation:

  • Americans are Concerned about the Cleanliness of Businesses and Germs. Roughly three in five respondents (57%) are more concerned about the cleanliness of a business they frequent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and more than half (56%) have thought more about how clean a business/public space is in the past two years than ever before.
  • On the Brink of a Post-Pandemic World, We’re Still Paying Close Attention to Cleanliness. Nearly three in five (59%) are more aware of surface cleanliness when they’re out in public, and over half (51%) say they’d be more likely to frequent a business if it provided evidence their facility has been properly disinfected.
  • Americans Want to Know Business Are Clean (and Will Make It Known if They’re Not). The majority of respondents (82%) would do or say something if a business wasn’t cleaned to their standards.
    • More than half (54%) wouldn’t visit that business again.
    • One in three (33%) would complain to friends/family.
    • Nearly one in three Americans (29%) would speak to a manager.

Rethinking What Clean Means in 2022

While ISSA’s survey results show we value cleanliness, most Americans still need help understanding what’s clean and what isn’t. A business’ or public space’s cleanliness is determined by many factors, but smell is NOT one of them. However, three in four participants believe (42%) or are unsure (34%) that if a business looks/smells clean, then it is clean. Americans are also unaware of cleaning certifications and what they mean—over half (52%) have not heard of cleaning certifications.

This campaign issues a wakeup call to not only raise consumer expectations and inform them a higher standard is possible, but to help businesses benefit their bottom line with cleaning products/services.

“Now more than ever, we’re hyper focused on hygiene, germs, and keeping things clean. But when we’re out in public spaces, we often just have to hope these spaces are cleaned to the highest standard,” said John Barrett, Executive Director of ISSA. “As the worldwide cleaning industry association, we want everyone to know that no one should compromise on cleanliness. There are standards, courses, and even certifications to ensure cleaning crews, facility managers, and others are equipped with the best cleaning procedures and protocols to offer the public peace of mind. This new normal is a chance for people and businesses to embrace a cleaner world than we ever imagined.”

For more information on how to Rethink Clean or to view the “Howie Clean It” series, visit

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