Cleaning & Maintenance Management Online

Green Cleaning Your Way To A Safer Environment

February 1, 2011

You can clean as, if not more, effectively with green cleaning programs that rely on the use of environmentally friendly chemicals and high-performance cleaning equipment.

The chemicals in cleaning products are everywhere: On dishes, countertops, furniture, clothes, floors, windows, etc. — they are even floating through the air we breathe.

In our battle against dirt and germs, we may actually be making things worse.

Even as they help us pick up dirt and dust, many modern cleaners irritate our skin, eyes and lungs.

They can also leave toxic residues or pollutants in the water when rinsed down the drain.

Chlorine bleach, for example, is a common disinfectant frequently found in cleaning solutions.

It is highly irritating to the skin and eyes, not to mention it can be fatal if swallowed.

Many traditional cleaning products also have high percentages of volatile organic compounds (VOC) that may cause short- or long-term health problems.

For people with health problems, it is important that we turn to more sustainable cleaning alternatives to avoid contributing to additional air pollution.

Keeping the built environment clean and avoiding toxic cleaners doesn''t have to be mutually exclusive.

A number of years ago, many green cleaning products were not as effective and cost more than traditional products; however, over time, green cleaning products have become as effective as traditional products and now cost about the same.

Environmentally friendly cleaning products have many advantages over traditional products.

When compared to traditional cleaning products, green cleaning products can:

  • Reduce health effects to building occupants and janitorial staff

  • Reduce the amount of refuse

  • Reduce overall environmental impacts

  • Reduce costs to building management, tenants and janitorial services

  • Increase occupant and worker satisfaction and safety

Increase the likelihood of gaining Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification for your business or building.

The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) created a system to define and measure "green building," and indoor air quality (IAQ) is one of the environmental categories for achieving LEED certification.

Its primary focus is managing air contaminants.

Protecting indoor environments from contaminants is essential for maintaining a healthy space for building occupants and personnel.

Investing in a green cleaning program not only lowers the environmental risk, but also puts your building one step closer to achieving LEED certification or a comparable equivalent.

One of the most important parts of a green cleaning program is to first identify what types of soil you''re trying to clean.

Soil is any substance, solid or liquid, that is present in a place where it is not wanted.

There are three types of soil:

  • Tracked-in soil
  • Airborne soil
  • Spills.

Modern Green Products

Today, most green products undergo rigorous certification tests by organizations such as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Green Seal Inc. to assure they are effective and safe.

In addition, there have been significant advancements in cleaning equipment in order to produce products that better capture and remove soil than those made several years ago.

Advancements include special filters on vacuum cleaners and the development of microfiber cloths and mop heads.

A common myth is that disinfectants and sanitizers should be used liberally as everyday cleaners.

This is not the case; in fact, it is the complete opposite.

Cleaning is a necessary first step to sanitizing or disinfecting because contact and reaction with soils may reduce or even eliminate the effectiveness of disinfectants.

Therefore, even if a surface is washed and disinfected properly, the disinfected condition is effective only until the surface''s next use.

To be effective, most disinfectants require the surface first be cleaned and then kept wet for several minutes of contact time with a fresh solution of the disinfectant product.

Floors wet with disinfectant create slip hazards and, once disinfected, floors and surfaces rapidly become re-contaminated by airborne microorganisms or from those found on shoes or other objects.

Routine disinfection or sanitization of all floors and surfaces in buildings is not considered necessary.

However, the use of disinfectants and sanitizers in certain places like food service areas may be required or recommended by other laws, regulations or guidelines.

When you make a commitment to a green cleaning program, your staff feels like their job and organization is contributing to a greater purpose.

Not only will adapting a green cleaning program help the environment, but it will also lessen the adverse health effects cleaning products can have on your body.

If you plan on doing some cleaning soon, don''t just be concerned with the environment; keep your health and well-being in mind, too.


Emmanuel Edwards is co-founder and president of Sustainable Sanitation Services (S3). S3 is a lead distributor for safe and superior green cleaning products. The S3 mission is to supply a cost effective and non-caustic green cleaning alternative at an unbeatable price. In short, Sustainable Sanitation Services products honor the environment and the personal health and wellness of every human being. For more information, please visit www.sustainablesanitation.com or call (504) 552-2100.