Clean workshop within Prospect Heights School District 23

With the exception of the soap scum remover, which comes in a ready-to-use container, all of the district’s EnvirOx products are dispensed via wall-mounted solution centers.

“We strategically placed the dispensers based on water lines and mop sinks, as well as the routes the custodians take,” says Rominski. “There are two stations set up at our middle school and two to three at each of our elementary schools.”

Prior to implementing EnvirOx, the use of wall-mounted dispensers was “hit or miss,” says Rominski. A few cleaning products were dispensed via wall-mounted units, but the majority of them were mixed by hand — a process that was prone to error.

“Without a chemical dilution center, custodians were more likely to dispense the incorrect amount of product, which could lead to staining of grout or tile,” says Rominski. “Switching to EnvirOx took that guessing game out of the mix.”

In addition to improving accuracy, the dilution centers allowed custodians to be more efficient.

“By making sure cleaning products are centrally located, custodians can find all their products in one place, put them on their carts, and then start their shift,” notes Rominski. “They no longer have to gather products from different closets.”

Rominski admits that, initially, several custodians were resistant to the new products. But once they received training and learned how to use them, the staff soon became advocates.

“Many of the custodians have commented that EnvirOx products are more user-friendly,” says Rominski. “They’re non-toxic and non-caustic, so they’re safe for custodians. And they don’t emit the nasty fumes staff may have experienced with previous cleaning products.”

Reaping Rewards

According to Rominski, the quality of cleaning has improved since implementing the EnvirOx products.

“Inherently, hydrogen peroxide is able to clean and lighten surfaces,” he notes. “We’ve noticed that since we started using the products for washrooms, the grout has become cleaner and less caked with dirt and soil. And when used as a multipurpose cleaner on hard surfaces, it doesn’t leave behind any residue or biofilm.”

Custodians are also using a lesser amount of cleaning products than they have in the past.

“We’ve introduced better cleaning processes that cut down on the amount of chemicals needed,” notes Rominski. “With the introduction of dilution centers, custodians no longer mix chemicals by hand, so there’s a lot less product being used or wasted.”

As a result, the district is now able to order cleaning supplies on an as-needed basis, rather than six months in advance — a practice that often lead to surplus stock and misplaced items.

Reducing the number of cleaning products from a dozen down to four is a major win for the district. But the most significant benefit of using the new cleaning products is more difficult to quantify — that of a healthier school environment.

“Our biggest goal was to promote clean and healthy buildings, and try to reduce the amount of hazardous chemicals and products that are potential irritants for staff and students,” says Rominski.

In fact, the switch in cleaning products marked the starting point for the district’s green cleaning program.

“We looked at changing products first, and then we started getting into other green cleaning equipment and procedures,” Rominski explains.

Last year, the department introduced microfiber mops; this year Rominski is introducing microfiber towels and a color coding system for towels and mops. Floor stripping chemicals have been eliminated in favor of floor scrubbing equipment that uses water. Rominski also plans to introduce a dual-bucket mopping system district-wide in the fall.

To promote the district’s green cleaning initiatives, Rominski has created an internal brand: The Growing Green Project.

“It gives people something to glob onto,” he says. “When students and staff see our logo, they recognize that we’re trying to promote a healthy school environment. So any product we can use to demonstrate that fact is a positive.” 

KASSANDRA KANIA is a freelance writer based in Charlotte, North Carolina.

previous page of this article:
Changing Chemicals Propels Green Cleaning Program