Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Green Cleaning In Restrooms

September 19, 2010

Editor''s note:

Cleaning and maintaining restrooms is a major task for building service contractors and in-house custodial staff.

The difficulty increases when janitors are asked to continue cleaning at high standards with fewer, less harmful chemicals.

The fact is that there are few green chemicals that can clean a restroom and deliver the sanitization and disinfection results of traditional chemicals.

That is not to say that just because there are limited green restroom cleaners that there are not other ways to green a restroom.

Remember, green goes beyond replacing cleaning chemicals with less caustic options; it encompasses everything from chemicals, water usage, paper products to cleaning procedures, and everything in between.

With recent advances in restroom technology that put added emphasis on environmental stewardship, the amount of green options will continue to increase.

Two recent posts on the Bulletin Board discuss the issue of green cleaning and maintenance in restrooms.

Posted by:
Adam Hauser

I am with Guilford County Schools in Greensboro, NC.

We are starting to embrace the green concept throughout the district.

We have built several green buildings over the last few years.

I have been charged with greening our restrooms throughout the county as my part of the puzzle.

My question is, what procedures did everyone use to move toward green in the restroom, from a custodial standpoint?

Doug Berg
The best advice I can give is that you must know the difference between LEED-certified, Green Seal-certified, and bio-renewables.

We had several vendors bring us samples. I then had my staff use and give feedback — good or bad — to find green products that worked well and were cost effective.

I''m sure, like everyone else, that money and budgets get in the way, so pick your green battles carefully.

There are several ways to meet government green mandates.

This includes equipment, microfiber, paper products and chemicals. Hope this helps.

Tim Dunn
Most major companies and government agencies have environmental initiatives. I think we will find legislation encouraging or even mandating some attention to biodegradability in the near future.

Plastic is mostly made of oil by-products, so we''d just have to throw the by-product away if it wasn''t made into plastic — creating still more pollution. If we make it into recyclable, biodegradable plastic and it is not recycled — as the great majority is not — it becomes soil and the environment wins.

Posted by:
Don Vincent
Has anybody had experience cleaning facilities with bacteria cubes in the urinals?

I have cared for two large facilities in Melbourne, Australia, where they are being used.

They are very good at saving water, but, in my opinion, are not very good at combating urine odors — although they have improved as of late.

Because the urinal is not getting flushed until the evening, urine is filling the plumbing for many hours. Consequently, by mid-afternoon, the odor in the men''s restroom is quite noticeable.

Does anyone know if breathing these vapors is a health risk?

Also, I am concerned for my staff when they come in after it has been brewing for a few hours. One of my restroom staff has resorted to wearing a mask.

My ATP testing shows that the bacterial count inside the urinal is within acceptable limits. So, they are hygienic — which is the main concern.

I am pretty sure that women''s restrooms would use more water on a per-person basis. Why isn''t this technology used there?

Australians living in the dry back blocks have a saying: "If it''s yellow, let it mellow, if it''s brown, flush it down."

Joseph Russell
I don''t know about all that. My personal preference would be for all of civilization to flush after every use, but that''s just me.

It might be a lingering effect of potty training.

Erick Albertson
We have many waterless urinals that work pretty good.

About the only problem we have to deal with is people putting gum, tobacco, cigarettes, etc., in the trap.

Overall, though, they work well and each saves about 45,000 gallons of water per year.

You have to change the trap on a per-usage rotation, refresh the chemical product every so often, and make sure the cartridge is seated properly, but they are pretty nice.

Besides, not very many people flush the urinals.