Facility Dude

Top 3 Green Cleaning Myths

By Kate Donnelly
Nov 25, 2015

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Sustainable cleaning practices aren't only for residential homes. More than just a trend, improving facility efficiency through sustainable building maintenance and the use of energy-tracking systems is widely recognized as a wise business decision. The idea of green cleaning goes hand-in-hand with these cost and environmental conscience moves. Green cleaning has become an integral part of maintenance management and is prerequisite of LEED for Existing Buildings. It has also been shown to greatly increase safety of employees by reducing the indoor level of pollutants. Despite the growing push, green cleaning programs are sometimes met with strong resistance when presented to janitors, on-site building managers, and even facility managers. Here are the top 3 myths about green cleaning, and why it deserves a little more though.

Myth: Going green only involves buying eco-friendly cleaning products.

Fact: Green cleaning is any method, product, tool, chemical or equipment that has a reduced impact on the environment and the health of those exposed.

At its best, green cleaning is an integrative process that includes cleaning supplies, fixtures, disposal and recycling of chemicals, training and continuous review and improvement of procedures. One of the main points of improvement in most cleaning programs is carpet and floor sanitation. Switching to a high-filtration vacuum, a carpet extractor or floor machine that uses less chemical and water, and minimizing floor refinishing cycles are considered environmentally positive ways to maintain building space.

Myth: Green cleaning isn't strong enough for commercial facilities.

Fact: The evolution of green cleaning products has made them just as effective as conventional products for all settings, including schools, hospitals and businesses.

Since government legislation was passed in 1993 favoring the use of environmentally preferable cleaning products in U.S. owned facilities around the world, virtually every chemical company has developed effective commercial cleaning products with lower pollutants and less packaging. The EPA created the Safer Choice Standard to ensure both the effectiveness and positive environmental attributes of cleaning supplies for air conditioner coils to wood floors, and everything in between.  Instead of relying on product packaging marked "natural" or "eco-friendly", which can be misleading, direct building managers to find products using the Safer Choice list.

Myth: Moving to green cleaning will blow the sanitation budget.

Fact: Switching to an institutional-grade green cleaning program can be cost-neutral when comparing total expense.

Although the upfront cost of a cleaning agent or supply may be slightly more than its conventional counterpart, the overall cost has been shown to equal or produce savings in the end. A 2003 report by the University of Massachusetts Lowell showed that just by switching from ring spun mops to microfiber mops, they saved $9,855 per year in combined product, chemical, labor, and utility costs. Extensive case studies repeat these findings and can be applied to just about any business setting.  In addition to bottom line expense savings, lower rates of exposure to hazardous chemicals has been shown to reduce janitorial staff missed time by an average of 6 percent. Implanting more efficient cleaning procedures can also reduce the risk of injury and the number of workman's compensation claims, which can effectively lower insurance rates by 5 percent.

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