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Do your homework before buying green strippers and finishes

September 19, 2010
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Many U.S. cities, states and universities, as well as certifying organizations such as the U.S. Green Building Council, continue to drive the use of environmentally responsible custodial cleaning products and building services contracts.

Floor strippers and finish formulations that minimize the use of Volitile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and nonbiodegradable compounds, and are free of known carcinogens and chemicals, are central to this movement.

Creating environmentally responsible floor finishes or strippers that perform effectively can be challenging. However, a growing number of effective, low-toxicity floor finishes and strippers are now available.

When choosing these floor-maintenance products, make sure to do your homework.

Think outside the label
Not only should you check the product label for ingredients and instructions, but you should also make sure your new environmentally responsible floor care products will work well together.

Strippers are formulated to work with specific types of floor finishes. This means that some green strippers may not be as effective at removing a traditional floor finish, such as those that contain metal.

For this reason, check with the manufacturers to make sure you are choosing compatible products.

Clean floors daily
Proper floor maintenance will increase the life of the floor finish and decrease the frequency of stripping and refinishing.

Train cleaning workers to damp-mop, dust and vacuum floors and matting daily to reduce the amount of floor care products used over the long term.

Also, schedule stripping and finishing according to wear patterns rather than simply following a calendar schedule.

Train for safe use of products
In some applications, even an environmentally preferable product may still pose some type of health hazard or risk to workers or building occupants.

Train workers to handle all types of products correctly, to avoid spraying or otherwise contaminating the air with products, and to dilute products correctly. Choose products that come in closed containers designed for easy dispensing and dilution.

Todd Morrison is associate product manager of Floor Care for JohnsonDiversey. For more information, visit

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